Thomas Hardy (1840—1928)
Thomas Hardy was born In Dorsetshire in 1840. At an early age he went to Dorchester to study architecture, and later to London. His first novel (published 1871) was read and appreciated by George Meredith, who saw it in MS. After fts publication Hardy returned to Dorchester, where he lived for over fifty years. Among his many volumes of fiction there are four collections of short stories. Hardy`s chief qualities—his grasp of character and his ability to create atmosphere—are observable in his short tales quite as clearly as in his greater and more extensive novels.The present story is reprinted, by permission of the publisher, from A Group of Noble Dames, Macmillan and Co.
Squire Petrick`s Lady
From A Group of Noble DamesFolk who are at all acquainted with the traditions of Stapleford Park will not need to be told that in the middle of the last century it was owned by that trump of mortgagees, Timothy Petrick, whose skill in gaining possession of fair estates by granting sums of money on their title-deeds has seldom if ever been equaled in our part of England.Timothy was a lawyer by profession, and agent to several noblemen, by which means his special line of business became opened to him by a sort of revelation. It is said that a relative of his, a very deep thinker, who afterwards had the misfortune to be transported for life for mistaken notions on the signing of a will, taught him considerable legal lore, which he creditably resolved never to throw away for the benefit of other people, but to reserve it entirely for his own.However, I have nothing in particular to say about his early and active days, but rather of the time when, an old man, he had become the owner of vast estates by the means I have signified—among them the great manor of Stapleford, on which he lived, in the splendid old mansion now pulled down; likewise estates at Marlott, estates near Sherton Abbas, nearly all the borough of Millpool, and many properties near Ivell.Indeed, I can`t call to mind half his landed possessions, and I don`t know that it matters much at this time of day, seeing that he`s been dead and gone many years. It is said that when he bought an estate he would not decide to pay the price till he had walked over every single acre with his own two feet, and prodded the soil at every point with his own spud, to test its quality, which, if we regard the extent 6f his properties, must have been a stiff business for him.
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