The Angry TideBy: Winston Graham
It was windy. The pale afternoon sky was shredded with clouds, the road) grown dustier and more uneven in the last hour, was scattered with blown and rustling leaves.
There were five people in the coach; a thin clerkly man with a pinched face and a shiny suit, his thinner wife, their half-grown daughter, and two other passengers: one tall gaunt distinguished-looking man in his late thirties) the other a stoutly built clergyman a few years younger. The tall man wore a brown velvet jacket with brass buttons, mostly undone to show the clean shirt and the shabby yellow waistcoat beneath) tight buff trousers and riding boots. The clergyman, except for his collar, might have passed for a dandy, with his green silk patterned suit all to match, his silk cloak, his scarlet stockings and black buckle shoes.
The clerkly man and his wife, a little overawed by the company they were in, made only whispered asides to each other as the coach lurched and clattered over the potholes. Although silence obtained now, there had been conversation, and they were aware of the nature of the company they kept. The tall man was Captain Poldark, a man recently come to eminence in the county and a member of Parliament for the borough of Truro. The clergyman was the Reverend Osborne Whitworth, vicar of St Margaret's, Truro, and absentee Vicar of St Sawle-with-Grambler on the north coast.
There had been conversation but it had lapsed into a none too friendly silence; indeed, the interchange from the beginning had had an edge on it. Captain Poldark had joined the coach at St Blazey and Mr Whitworth shortly afterwards at St Austell and at once had said: cHo, Poldark, so you're back; well, well, I expect you'll be glad to be home again. How was Westminster? Pitt and Fox, and all that. My uncle tells me it's a regular gossip shop.'
'It's what you make it,' said Captain Poldark. 'Like so many other things,'
'Ha! Yes. So my cousin-in-law George said when he was up there. Bitter blow you struck him then, you know, depriving him of his seat.
Whetted his appetite, it had, those twelve months as a member. Very down in the mouth for a while, was George.'
Captain Poldark did not speak. The coach smcllcd of dust and stale breath.
Mr Whitworth eased his tight trousers inelegantly. 'Mind you, Mr Warleggan is no laggard in furthering his own affairs. I have no doubt you'll be hearing more of him before the year is much older.'
'I shall wait with interest,' said Poldark, looking down his strong nose.
'We need all the able men we can muster,' said Whitworth. 'Now more than ever, sir. Domestic discontent, Jacobin clubs, naval mutiny with red flags hoisted, bankruptcies everywhere, and now this Irish rebellion. Have you any news that it has been put down?'
'The disgraceful atrocities of the Catholics must be duly punished. The stories one hears match the worst excesses of the French revolt.'
'All atrocities are duly punished - or at least avenged. One never knows who begins them - only that they set off a train of consequences that never end.'
Mr Whitworth stared out of the window at the lurching greenery of the countryside. 'I know of course that your Mr Pitt favours Catholic emancipation. Happily there is little chance of its going through Parliament.'
'I think you're right. But whether it's something to be happy about I rather question. Do we not all worship the same God?’
Mr Whitworth's nose was a different shape from Captain Poldark's, but he had no difficulty in looking down it - at the presumption of a man prepared to question his judgment on his home ground - and there for a time the conversation lapsed. However, the young cleric was not one to be discouraged by small rebuffs, and after the coach had been stopped for five minutes while the coachman and some of the outside passengers moved a fallen bough, Whitworth said: 'I have been spending two nights with the Carlyons. Do you know them?' 'By name,'
'Tregrehan is a very comfortable and spacious residence. My father and mother knew the Carlyons and I have kept up the acquaintance. They have a very fine cook, a treasure indeed.'
Captain Poldark looked at Mr Whitworth's swelling stomach but made no comment.
'Their spring lamb - exceptional tender . .. with., of course, asparagus and roasted calf's heart. It is the conjunction of dishes which makes the table. Upon my word, though. I don't know whether that was better than the boiled fillet of veal with some sweet sauce of their own devising, and a sage and rosemary stuffing. Constantly I tell my wife, it is not the ingredients., it is the way those ingredients are put together.'