The Wooden Horse by Hugh Walpole Page 1 of 277


Robin Trojan was waiting for his father.

Through the open window of the drawing-room came, faintly, the cries of the town-the sound of some distant bell, the shout of fishermen on the quay, the muffled beat of the mining-stamps from Porth-Vennic, a village that lay two miles inland.

There yet lingered in the air the faint afterglow of the sunset, and a few stars, twinkling faintly in the deep blue of the night sky, seemed reflections of the orange lights of the herring-boats, flashing far out to sea.

The great drawing-room, lighted by a cluster of electric lamps hanging from the ceiling, seemed to flaunt the dim twinkle of the stars contemptuously; the dark blue of the walls and thick Persian carpets sounded a quieter note, but the general effect was of something distantly, coldly superior, something indeed that was scarcely comfortable, but that was, nevertheless, fulfilling the exact purpose for which it had been intended.

And that purpose was, most certainly, not comfort. Robin himself would have smiled contemptuously if you had pleaded for something homely, something suggestive of roaring fires and cosy armchairs, instead of the stiff-backed, beautifully carved Louis XIV. furniture that stood, each chair and table rigidly in its appointed place, as though bidding defiance to any one bold enough to attempt alterations.

The golden light in the sky shone faintly in at the open window, as though longing to enter, but the dazzling brilliance of the room seemed to fling it back into the blue dome of sea and sky outside.

Robin was standing by a large looking-glass in the corner of the room trying to improve the shape of his tie; and it was characteristic of him that, although he had not seen his father for eighteen years, he was thinking a great deal more about his tie than about the approaching meeting.

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