Castle Corner

Castle Corner

Castle Corner

Castle Corner


'AND NOW TO GOD the Father . . .' Old Mr. John Corner's voice rose as usual upon the phrase and paused there. For old John, at eightythree, brought up in the eighteen twenties, God the Father was the ruling conception of life. God was Father of creation, the King was father of his people, and he, John, was father of his tenants, both English and Irish, especially the Irish here at Castle Corner. He found them helpless and foolish children.

Because of this habitual pause, lengthened by the old man's shortness of breath, no one at first noticed that he had stopped praying. He had turned his ear, thin and white as porcelain, towards the open window beside him, listening.

There had been in the last months a little difficulty with certain tenants, and old John had ordered their eviction for that morning. He was therefore attentive for any sounds from outside.

Inside the room nothing could be heard except the hiss of the urn on the breakfast table and the lap of small waves outside the eastward windows. A morning shower had just passed over towards the east, leaving the air as bright as water. The room was full of sunlight, warmth, glitter of silver and the white reflection of the starched linen, mixed on the ceiling with the silvery reflections of the lake outside the windows. If one looked to the east, the house seemed to float on the lough, sparkling yellow in the April sunshine; like the yacht of some legendary prince in a sea of Rhine wine. But if one looked out of the west windows into the dark green shadows of the trees and the mountain behind, one seemed to be in a forgotten castle where some sleeping beauty in her country stays might eat hot buttered scones for a thousand years and never hear a sigh, except from the chimney.

Prayers at Castle Corner were exhilarating or sleepy for visitors according to the weather and their views. Cleeve Corner, only grandson of the house, aged eleven, faced the water and he was effervescent with happiness. He was on his first visit to Ireland for nine years. He was at home for the first time in his life.

Cleeve's father, Felix, the eldest son, could not agree with old John on any subject, religious or political, and rather than quarrel with him, he had stayed away from home. Therefore Cleeve's life had been spent in cheap hotels and boarding houses, wandering through Europe, often . . .

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