A mystifying story dealing with a wealthy M.P.'s experiment with a poor young man. The tale pulsates with life and is truly startling in some of its revelations. (Also published with the title The Falling Star).
isn't a thread of gold down there in the valley."
The boy obeyed almost mechanically. His heart was beating fast. His back was pressed against the cold rock. The fingers of both hands were nervously buried in the soft turf. Once more his eyes were riveted upon this land of shifting shadows. The whole panorama of life seemed suddenly unveiled before his eyes. More real, more brilliant now were the things upon which he looked. The thread of gold was indeed there!
A LETTER PROVES USEFUL
Bertrand Saton leaned against the stone coping of the bridge, and looked downwards, as though watching the seagulls circling round and round, waiting for their usual feast of scraps. The gulls, however, were only his excuse. He stood there, looking hard at the gray, muddy water beneath, trying to make up his mind to this final and inevitable act of despair. He had walked the last hundred yards almost eagerly. He had told himself that he was absolute
As the blurb above says, this is the story of a wealthy MP’s experiment with a young man. The MP (who’s also a knight and a wealthy landowner) is walking his estate when he happens across the boy, and after a conversation, takes it into his head to give the boy money and see what he’ll make of himself. Unfortunately, he also tells the boy that if he fails, he’d be better off killing himself, and that is the fatal flaw in the scheme. Years later, the boy, now a young man, turns up again, educated, well-dressed and wealthy. However, there’s an air of suspicion about those missing years, and his benefactor takes an immediate dislike to him.
The book has a strong background of occultism, a major craze of the time, which is quite interesting. Apart from that, I didn’t really like it much. I found it very slow going, and it just didn’t click with me. There weren’t many ‘startling revelations’ either. None of the characters were particularly sympathetic, and none of the love affairs (apart from Lois’s) rang true.