For the Term of His Natural Lifeby Marcus Andrew Hislop Clarke
Pub. Date: 02/08/2014
Publisher: CreateSpace Publishing
Three persons were the actors in it. One was an old man, whose white hair and wrinkled
On the evening of May 3, 1827, the garden of a large red-brick bow-windowed mansion called North End House, which, enclosed in spacious grounds, stands on the eastern height of Hampstead Heath, between Finchley Road and the Chestnut Avenue, was the scene of a domestic tragedy.
Three persons were the actors in it. One was an old man, whose white hair and wrinkled face gave token that he was at least sixty years of age. He stood erect with his back to the wall, which separates the garden from the Heath, in the attitude of one surprised into sudden passion, and held uplifted the heavy ebony cane upon which he was ordinarily accustomed to lean. He was confronted by a man of two-and-twenty, unusually tall and athletic of figure, dresses in rough seafaring clothes, and who held in his arms, protecting her, a lady of middle age. The face of the young man wore an expression of horror-stricken astonishment, and the slight frame of the grey-haired woman was convulsed with sobs.
These three people were Sir Richard Devine, his wife, and his only son Richard, who had returned from abroad that morning.
"So, madam," said Sir Richard, in the high-strung accents which in crises of great mental agony are common to the most self-restrained of us, "you have been for twenty years a living lie! For twenty years you have cheated and mocked me. For twenty years-in company with a scoundrel whose name is a byword for all that is profligate and base-you have laughed at me for a credulous and hood-winked fool; and now, because I dared to raise my hand to that reckless boy, you confess your shame, and glory in the confession!"
"Mother, dear mother!" cried the young man, in a paroxysm of grief, "say that you did not mean those words; you said them but in anger! See, I am calm now, and he may strike me if he will."
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