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time：2023-12-01 11:25:36 Source: Originally writtenedit：internet
Mr. Ventnor had presence of mind enough not to shake his fist. Muttering: "Very well, Mr. Heythorp! Ah! Very well!" he moved with dignity to the door. The careful shepherding of the servant renewed the fire of his anger. Hound! He had been called a hound
After seeing Mr. Ventnor off the premises the man Meller returned to his master, whose face looked very odd--"all patchy-like," as he put it in the servants' hall, as though the blood driven to his head had mottled for good the snowy whiteness of the forehead. He received the unexpected order:
"Get me a hot bath ready, and put some pine stuff in it."
When the old man was seated there, the valet asked:
"How long shall I give you, sir?"
Lying in that steaming brown fragrant liquid, old Heythorp heaved a stertorous sigh. By losing his temper with that ill-conditioned cur he had cooked his goose. It was done to a turn; and he was a ruined man. If only--oh! if only he could have seized the fellow by the neck and pitched him out of the room! To have lived to be so spoken to; to have been unable to lift hand or foot, hardly even his voice-- he would sooner have been dead! Yes--sooner have been dead! A dumb and measureless commotion was still at work in the recesses of that thick old body, silver-brown in the dark water, whose steam he drew deep into his wheezing lungs, as though for spiritual relief. To be beaten by a cur like that! To have that common cad of a pettifogging lawyer drag him down and kick him about; tumble a name which had stood high, in the dust! The fellow had the power to make him a byword and a beggar! It was incredible! But it was a fact. And to- morrow he would begin to do it--perhaps had begun already. His tree had come down with a crash! Eighty years-eighty good years! He regretted none of them-regretted nothing; least of all this breach of trust which had provided for his grandchildren--one of the best things he had ever done. The fellow was a cowardly hound, too! The way he had snatched the bell-pull out of his reach-despicable cur! And a chap like that was to put "paid" to the account of Sylvanus Heythorp, to "scratch" him out of life--so near the end of everything, the very end! His hand raised above the surface fell back on his stomach through the dark water, and a bubble or two rose. Not so fast--not so fast! He had but to slip down a foot, let the water close over his head, and "Good-bye" to Master Ventnor's triumph Dead men could not be kicked off the Boards of Companies. Dead men could not be beggared, deprived of their independence. He smiled and stirred a little in the bath till the water reached the white hairs on his lower lip. It smelt nice! And he took a long sniff: He had had a good life, a good life! And with the thought that he had it in his power at any moment to put Master Ventnor's nose out of joint--to beat the beggar after all, a sense of assuagement and well-being crept over him. His blood ran more evenly again. He closed his eyes. They talked about an after-life--people like that holy woman. Gammon! You went to sleep--a long sleep; no dreams. A nap after dinner! Dinner! His tongue sought his palate! Yes! he could eat a good dinner! That dog hadn't put him off his stroke! The best dinner he had ever eaten was the one he gave to Jack Herring, Chichester, Thornworthy, Nick Treffry and Jolyon Forsyte at Pole's. Good Lord! In 'sixty--yes--'sixty-five? Just before he fell in love with Alice Larne--ten years before he came to Liverpool. That was a dinner! Cost twenty-four pounds for the six of them--and Forsyte an absurdly moderate fellow. Only Nick Treff'ry and himself had been three-bottle men! Dead! Every jack man of them. And suddenly he thought: 'My name's a good one--I was never down before--never beaten!'
"The twenty minutes is up, sir."
"All right; I'll get out. Evening clothes."
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