It was a wild and stormy night on the West Coast of Scotland. This, however, is irrelevant to the present story, as the scene is not laid in the West of Scotland. The scene is laid in the South of England and takes place in and around Knotacentinum Towers (pronounced as Nosham Taws), the seat of Lord Knotacent (pronounced as Nosh). However, it is not necessary to pronounce either of these names in order to read them.
Nosham Taws was a typical English home. The main part of the house was an Elizabethan structure of red brick, while the elder portion, of which Lord Nosh was inordinately proud, still showed the outlines of a Serbian fortress. From the house in all directions stretched magnificent woodland and park with oaks and elms of immense antiquity, while nearer the house were raspberry bushes and geranium plants that had been planted by the Crusaders.
From the house downwards through the park stretched a beautiful broad avenue laid out by Henry VII, whose reign was characterized by a financial rapacity that stretched the bounds of legality. Lord Nosh stood upon the hearthrug of the library. Trained diplomat and statesman as he was, his stern aristocratic face was upside down with fury.
“Boy,” he said, “you shall marry this girl or I will disinherit you. You are no son of mine.”
Young Lord Ronald, erect before him, flung back a glance as defiant as his own.
“I defy you,” he said. “Henceforth you are no father of mine. I will get another. They are a dime a dozen. These are hard times. They will line up in long lines for miles on end to be my father. I will marry none but a woman I can love. This girl that we have never seen—- what is your reason?”
“Not everything has a reason,” said the Earl. “Although I have one. Although I cannot tell you now. Perhaps……Listen, Ronald, I give you one month. You can remain here at Taws now. If at the end of the month, you still refuse me, I will cut you off with 24 cents.”
Lord Ronald said nothing; he flung himself from the room, flung himself upon his horse and rode madly off in all directions.
To be continued. . .
With thanks to Stephen Leacock, whose brain was the vehicle through which this piece passed.