By Hall Caine
APPLETON AND COMPANY - 1894
PART I. BOYS TOGETHER.
Old Deemster Christian of Ballawhaine was a hard man--hard on the
outside, at all events. They called him Iron Christian, and people said,
"Don't turn that iron hand against you." Yet his character
with nobleness as well as strength. He was not a man of icy nature, but
he loved to gather icicles about him. There was fire enough underneath,
at which he warmed his old heart when alone, but he liked the air to
be congealed about his face. He was a man of a closed soul. One had to
wrench open the dark chamber
where he kept his feelings; but the man who
had done that had uncovered his nakedness, and he cut him off for ever.
That was how it happened with his son, the father of Philip.
He had two sons; the elder was an impetuous
creature, a fiery spirit,
one of the masterful souls who want the restraint
of the curb if they
are not to hurry headlong
into the abyss. Old Deemster Christian had
called this boy Thomas Wilson, after the serene
saint who had once
been Bishop of Man. He was intended, however, for the law, not for
the Church. The office of Deemster never has been and never can be
hereditary; yet the Christians of Ballawhaine had been Deemsters through
six generations, and old Iron Christian expected that Thomas Wilson
Christian would succeed him. But there was enough uncertainty
succession to make merit of more value than precedent
in the selection,
and so the old man had brought up his son to the English bar, and
afterwards called him to practise
in the Manx one. The young fellow had
rewarded his father's endeavours. During his residence
in England, he had acquired certain modern doctrines which were highly
obnoxious to the old Deemster. New views on property, new ideas
about woman and marriage, new theories concerning
re-christened superstition), the usual barnacles of young vessels fresh
from unknown waters; but the old man was no shipwright in harbour who
the art of removing them without injury
to the hull. The
Deemster knew these notions when he met with them in the English
newspapers. There was something awesome in their effect on his
stay-at-home imagination, as of vices confusing and difficult to true
men that walk steadily; but, above all, very far off, over the mountains
and across the sea, like distant cities of Sodom, only waiting
Sodom's doom. And yet, lo! here they were in a twinkling, shunted and
shot into his own house and his own stackyard.
"I suppose now," he said, with a knowing
look, "you think Jack as good
as his master?"
"No, sir," said his son gravely; "generally much better."
Iron Christian altered his will. To his elder son he left only a
life-interest in Ballawhaine. "That boy will be doing something," he
said, and thus he guarded against consequences. He could not help it; he
was ashamed, but he could not conquer
his shame--the fiery old man began
to nurse a grievance
against his son.
The two sons of the Deemster were like the inside and outside of a bowl,
and that bowl was the Deemster himself. If Thomas Wilson the elder
had his father's inside fire and softness, Peter, the younger, had his
father's outside ice and iron. Peter was little and almost misshapen,
with a pair of shoulders that seemed to be trying
to meet over a hollow
chest and limbs that splayed away into vacancy. And if Nature had been
grudging with him, his father was not more kind. He had been brought up
to no profession, and his expectations were limited
to a yearly
out of his brother's property. His talk was bitter, his voice cold,
he laughed little, and had never been known to cry. He had many things
Besides these sons, Deemster Christian had a girl in his household, but
to his own consciousness
the fact was only a kind of peradventure. She
was his niece, the child of his only brother, who had died in early
manhood. Her name was Ann Charlotte de la Tremouille, called after
the lady of Rushen, for the family of Christian had their share of the
heroic that is in all men. She had fine eyes, a weak mouth, and great
timidity. Gentle airs floated always about her, and a sort of nervous
brightness twinkled over her, as of a glen with the sun flickering
through. Her mother died when she was a child of twelve, and in the
house of her uncle and her cousins she had been brought up among men and
One day Peter drew the Deemster aside and told him (with expressions
of shame, interlarded with praises of his own acuteness) a story of his
brother. It was about a girl. Her name was Mona Crellin; she lived on
the hill at Ballure House, half a mile south of Ramsey, and was
daughter of a man called Billy Ballure, a retired
hail-fellow-well-met with all the jovial spirits of the town.
There was much noise and outcry, and old Iron sent for his son.
"What's this I hear?" he cried, looking him down. "A woman? So that's
what your fine learning
comes to, eh? Take care, sir! take care! No son
of mine shall disgrace
himself. The day he does that he will be put to
Thomas held himself in with a great effort.
"Disgrace?" he said. "What disgrace, sir, if you please?"
"What disgrace, sir?" repeated
the Deemster, mocking his son in a
mincing treble. Then he roared, "Behaving dishonourably to a poor
girl--that what's disgrace, sir! Isn't it enough? eh? eh?"
"More than enough," said the young man. "But who is doing it? I'm not."
"Then you're doing worse. _Did_ I say worse? Of course I said worse.
Worse, sir, worse! Do you hear me? Worse! You are trapsing around
Ballure, and letting that poor girl take notions. I'll have no more
of it. Is this what I sent you to England for? Aren't you ashamed
yourself? Keep your place, sir; keep your place. A poor girl's a poor
girl, and a Deemster's a Deemster."
"Yes, sir," said Thomas, suddenly firing up, "and a man's a man. As for
the shame, I need be ashamed
of nothing that is not shameful; and the
best proof I can give you that I mean no dishonour by the girl is that I
intend to marry her."
"What? You intend to--what? Did I hear----"
The old Deemster turned his good ear towards his son's face, and the
young man repeated
his threat. Never fear! No poor girl should be misled
by him. He was above all foolish conventions.
Old Iron Christian was dumbfounded. He gasped, he stared, he stammered,
and then fell on his son with hot reproaches.
"What? Your wife? Wife? That trollop!--that minx! that--and daughter of
that sot, too, that old rip, that rowdy blatherskite--that----And my
own son is to lift his hand to cut his throat! Yes, sir, cut his
throat----And I am to stand by! No, no! I say no, sir, no!"
The young man made some further protest, but it was lost in his father's
"You will, though? You will? Then your hat is your house, sir. Take to
it--take to it!"
"No need to tell me twice, father."
"Away then--away to your woman--your jade! God, keep my hands off him!"
The old man lifted his clenched fist, but his son had flung out of the
room. It was not the Deemster only who feared he might lay hands on his
own flesh and blood.
"Stop! come back, you dog! Listen! I've not done yet. Stop! you
hotheaded rascal, stop! Can't you hear a man out then? Come back! Thomas
Wilson, come back, sir! Thomas! Thomas! Tom! Where is he? Where's the
Old Iron Christian had made after his son bareheaded down to the road,
shouting his name in a broken roar, but the young man was gone. Then
he went back slowly, his grey hair playing in the wind. He was all iron
outside, but all father within.
That day the Deemster altered his will a second time, and his elder son
Peter succeeded in due course to the estate
of Ballawhaine, but he was
not a lawyer, and the line of the Deemsters Christian was broken.
Meantime Thomas Wilson Christian had been married to Mona Crellin
without delay. He loved her, but he had been afraid of her ignorance,
afraid also (notwithstanding his principles) of the difference in their
social rank, and had half intended to give her up when his father's
reproaches had come to fire his anger and to spur his courage. As
soon as she became his wife he realised the price he had paid for her.
Happiness could not come of such a beginning. He had broken every tie
in making the one which brought him down. The rich disowned him, and the
poor lost respect for him.
indecent," said one. "It's potatoes marrying herrings,"
said another. It was little better than hunger
In the general downfall
of his fame his profession
failed him. He lost
heart and ambition. His philosophy
did not stand him in good stead, for
it had no value in the market to which he brought it. Thus, day by day,
he sank deeper into the ooze of a wrecked and wasted life.
The wife did not turn out well. She was a fretful
person, with a good
face, a bad shape, a vacant
mind, and a great deal of vanity. She
had liked her husband a little as a lover, but when she saw that her
marriage brought her nobody's envy, she fell into a long fit of the
vapours. Eventually she made herself believe that she was an ill-used
person. She never ceased to complain
of her fate. Everybody treated her
as if she had laid plans for her husband's ruin.
The husband continued to love her, but little by little he grew to
despise her also. When he made his first plunge, he had prided himself
on indulging an heroic
impulse. He was not going to deliver a good woman
to dishonour because she seemed to be an obstacle
to his success. But
she had never realised his sacrifice. She did not appear to understand
that he might have been a great man in the island, but that love and
honour had held him back. Her ignorance
was pitiful, and he was ashamed
of it. In earning the contempt
of others he had not saved himself from
The old sailor died suddenly in a fit of drunkenness at a fair, and
husband and wife came into possession of his house and property at
Ballure. This did not improve the relations between them. The woman
perceived that their positions were reversed. She was the bread-bringer
now. One day, at a slight that her husband's people had put upon her
in the street, she reminded him, in order to re-establish her wounded
vanity, that but for her and hers he would not have so much as a roof to
Yet the man continued to love her in spite of all. And she was not
at first a degraded being. At times she was bright and cheerful, and,
except in the worst spells of her vapours, she was a brisk and busy
woman. The house was sweet and homely. There was only one thing to drive
him away from it, but that was the greatest thing of all. Nevertheless
they had their cheerful
A child was born, a boy, and they called him Philip. He was the
beginning of the end between them; the iron stay that held them together
and yet apart. The father remembered his misfortunes in the presence
of his son, and the mother was stung afresh by the recollection
disappointed hopes. The boy was the true heir of Ballawhaine, but the
inheritance was lost to him by his father's fault and he had nothing.
Philip grew to be a winsome lad. There was something sweet and amiable
and big-hearted, and even almost great, in him. One day the father
sat in the garden by the mighty
fuchsia-tree that grows on the lawn,
watching his little fair-haired son play at marbles on the path with two
big lads whom he had enticed out of the road, and another more familiar
playmate--the little barefooted
boy Peter, from the cottage
water-trough. At first Philip lost, and with grunts of satisfaction
the big ones promptly
pocketed their gains. Then Philip won, and little
curly Peter was stripped naked, and his lip began to fall. At that
Philip paused, held his head aside, and considered, and then said quite
briskly, "Peter hadn't a fair chance that time--here, let's give him
The father's throat
swelled, and he went indoors
to the mother and said,
"I think--perhaps I'm to blame--but somehow I think our boy isn't
like other boys. What do you say? Foolish? May be so, may be so! No
difference? Well, no--no!"
But deep down in the secret place of his heart, Thomas Wilson Christian,
broken man, uprooted tree, wrecked craft in the mud and slime, began to
cherish a fond idea. The son would regain
all that his father had lost!
He had gifts, and he should be brought up to the law; a large nature,
and he should be helped to develop it; a fine face which all must
love, a sense of justice, and a great wealth
of the power of radiating
happiness. Deemster? Why not? Ballawhaine? Who could tell? The biggest,
noblest, greatest of all Manxmen! God knows!
Only--only he must be taught to fly from his father's dangers. Love?
Then let him love where he can also respect--but never outside his own
sphere. The island was too little for that. To love and to despise
to suffer the torments of the damned.
Nourishing these dreams, the poor man began to be tortured by every
caress the mother gave her son, and irritated by every word she spoke to
him. Her grammar was good enough for himself, and the exuberant caresses
of her maudlin moods were even sometimes pleasant, but the boy must be
degraded by neither.
The woman did not reach to these high thoughts, but she was not slow to
interpret the casual
byplay in which they found expression. Her husband
was taiching her son to dis-respeck her. She wouldn't have thought it
of him--she wouldn't really. But it was always the way when a
plain practical woman married on the quality. Imperence and
dis-respeck--that's the capers! Imperence and disrespeck from the
ones that's doing nothing and behoulden to you for everything. It was
shocking! It was disthressing!
In such outbursts would her jealousy
taunt him with his poverty, revile
him for his idleness, and square accounts with him for the manifest
preference of the boy. He could bear them with patience
when they were
alone, but in Philip's presence they were as gall and wormwood, and
whips and scorpions.
"Go, my lad, go," he would sometimes whimper, and hustle
the boy out of
"No," the woman would cry, "stop and see the man your father is."
And the father would mutter, "He might see the woman his mother is as
But when she had pinned them together, and the boy had to hear her out,
the man would drop his forehead
on the table and break into groans and
tears. Then the woman would change quite suddenly, and put her arms
about him and kiss him and weep over him. He could defend himself from
neither her insults nor her embraces. In spite of everything he loved
her. That was where the bitterness
of the evil lay. But for the love he
bore her, he might have got her off his back and been his own man once
more. He would make peace with her and kiss her again, and they would
both kiss the boy, and be tender, and even cheerful.
Philip was still a child, but he saw the relations of his parents, and
in his own way he understood everything. He loved his father best, but
he did not hate his mother. She was nearly always affectionate, though
of the father's greater love and care for him, and
from that cause alone. But the frequent