Marshall, Paula - The Quiet Man

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    Marshall, Paula - The Quiet Manthe quiet man [070-4.5]

    By: paula marshall

    Synopsis:

    Dear Reader When my publishers asked me to consider setting my nextromance in 1899 to celebrate Millennium Year I immediately thought.

    What a splendid idea! I had intended to write a further instalment of TheSchuyler Chronicles about the adventures of a poor relation of the family,and what could be better than making him the hero of my new novel? So AlienMarriott, who concealed his charismatic power behind his reputation as TheQuiet Man, was born. I was able to show him in the company of Gerard andTony Schuyler in their late thirties, now part of the set around the Princeof Wales, as well as at the other end of society where he is the friend of MrNance, a clock maker and shopkeeper off Piccadilly. The 1890s were a time ofgreat change and of great hopes for the future. My heroine, Trish Courtney,like many women then, was interested in the possibility of femaleemancipation.

    It was exciting for me to discover how many of the issues which moved the

    nation then were similar to our concerns today. I feel sure that you willfind as much enjoyment in reading about Alien and his dear Trish as I didwhen creating them.

    Paula Marshall, married with three children, has had a varied life.

    She began her career in a large library and ended it as a senior academic incharge of history in a polytechnic. She has travelled widely, has been aswimming coach, and has appeared on University Challenge and Mastermind. Shehas always wanted to write, and likes her novels to be full of adventure andhumour. Recent titles by the same author:

    MISS JESMOND'S HEIR

    THE WOLFE'S MATE

    THE DEVIL AND DRUSILLA

    ACKNOWLEDGMENT

    The author would like to thank the following for their assistance inproviding her with information to make the background to this novel asauthentic as possible. Any mistakes are her responsibility and not theirs.Mr Christopher Tarratt of George Tarratt Ltd; Lord Midleton, President of theBritish Horological Institute; Major A. G. McDonald, Librarian to theBritish Horological Institute's Library at Upton, near Southwell; Dr JonathanBetts, Curator of Horology of the National Maritime Museum; and the staff ofthe Reference Library, Leicester City Libraries.

    Prologue New York, 1890 1 his way, Mr Marriott. Mr Gerard will see you now." Alien Marriott, who had been kicking his heels in Mr Gerard Schuyler'souter office for the last half-hour, rose, frowning, from his uncomfortableseat. He was a tall, slim young man, about twenty years old, withfashionably cut darkish hair, hazel eyes, and a pale, slightly worried face.He was dressed in impeccable taste. He looked, apart from the worried face,exactly like the sort of gentleman who could call cousin that intrepidinternational financier Mr Gerard Schuyler, being the son of Mr Gerard'sfather's sister, Alicia. The office he was shown into was tastefully, butnot over-expensively furnished. The most magnificent thing in it--apart fromMr Gerard Schuyler--was the oak desk at which he sat. He was busy writingwhen Alien was announced, and continued to do so for some minutes. He did

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    Marshall, Paula - The Quiet Mannot offer Alien a seat, either when his flunky showed him in or when he hadfinished writing. Instead he looked up at his cousin, and said curtly,

    "You know why I have sent for you?"

    Overwhelmed by meeting for the first time the man of whose exploits he hadoften heard. Alien simply nodded an answer. Gerard flung his pen down andleaned back in his splendid chair. "Come, come, Mr Marriott, that will notdo. We must start as we mean to go on. Yes or no, please."

    "Yes." Alien knew that he was being sullen, but he could not stop himself.The errand on which he was engaged was so supremely distasteful to him--butso necessary--that he could barely speak. "In that case, I would ask you todetail the circumstances to me." "Why?"

    Alien blurted the question at Gerard before he could stop himself.

    "You know perfectly well why I am here."

    "Is it your habit to answer a question with another? If it is, it's a badone. Yes, I know why you are here. Do you? Tell me--or you may considerthis interview closed.

    The door is over there. " Alien gritted his teeth, and said, as civilly ashe could,

    "I am here because when my father, Cornelius Marriott, died my mother and Idiscovered that he was bankrupt, and that we should have to leave our homeimmediately. Which we did. We are now lodged in a poor hotel in Queens,which we can only afford because my mother, illegally, smuggled two pieces ofher jewellery out of the house when we left it." He did not need to tellGerard that they had been living on Fifth Avenue in one of New York's mostpalatial mansions--now up for sale. "Fortunately I had just finished myeducation at Yale, having gone there two years early, but I have no immediatemeans of earning a living sufficient to keep my mother and me in evenmoderate comfort. Consequently she wrote to your and my grandfather,Ghysbrecht Schuyler, the Captain, for financial assistance to tide us over."

    He stopped and looked out of the window before resuming. "The Captain has areputation for being a hard man, and he lived up to it. He wrote to mymother saying that she had made her own bed and must lie on it. Her dowrywhen she married my father had been a magnificent one, and on top of that herhusband had inherited three million dollars when his own father died. Thathe had chosen to squander his fortune on failed financial dealings, drink,gambling and other women was no fault of his father-in-law's, andconsequently he saw no reason to assist us." He stopped again. Gerard said,his voice pleasant,

    "Go on--and remember that I am a hard man, too."

    "My mother then wrote to you to ask for help, reminding you of old familyties, and you wrote back saying that if we needed any assistance I was topresent myself at your office today and you would see what you could do forus." "Admirably lucid. Couldn't have put it better myself. What wouldyou do in my position?" Alien stared at him.

    He felt sick and ill. A fortnight ago his whole world had crumbled abouthim. He had come down from Yale where, despite his youth, he had had adistinguished academic career as a scientist and mathematician determined toinvestigate the meaning and workings of time. The Cornelius Marriott who hadsettled in America in the early eighteenth century had been a bankrupt clock-maker who had set up in business in Boston, made himself a small fortune andenhanced it by marrying into the then rich De Lancey family. Everysubsequent Marriott--until his wastrel father, Cornelius--had enhanced it

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    Marshall, Paula - The Quiet Manfurther; clock making had been left long behind. Alien had found the firstCornelius's notebooks, and had become an amateur clock maker and repairer inhis spare time. Once his university career was over he had promised himselfthat he would set up his own laboratory and carry out the experiments he hadbeen dreaming of ever since he was a boy. That dream was dead and he wasreduced to begging for help from the hard man before him. He was aware thatGerard was waiting for an answer to his question. He decided to behonest--and damn the consequences. "I don't know. I can't imagine myself inyour position." Well, that should have dished any chances of help fromGerard, and no mistake. Gerard sat up and made a note on a piece of paper."I like that. An honest answer. Let me tell you what I propose to do--andthen you must decide for yourself whether you will agree to it. It's this.I am prepared to settle an annuity on your mother which will keep her incomfort. Unlike my grandfather I am not prepared to see a Schuyler starve.There is a condition: that you will take up the position of junior clerk inmy office here in New York.

    That will enable you not to starve. Your mother's annuity is conditional onthat and on your continued employment. " " But. " began Alien. " I havebeen expensively educated at Yale. " He stopped at the expression onGerard's face. " For what practical end? " said his cousin dryly. Howcould he answer that? He remained mute for a moment.

    Gerard added,

    "Do I take that to be a refusal?"

    "N ... no," said Alien, almost stuttering at the prospect of starvationrising before his face again. After all, what had his education fitted himfor in the real world in which most people lived? "No, I accept. Ofcourse I accept.

    I would be a fool not to. "

    "Agreed. There is, however, another condition. I know that your name isAlien Schuyler Marriott. You will drop the Schuyler and you will not revealthat you are related to me--or any of the Schuyler family.

    That is all. " " Yes, I understand. I shall be only too happy to obey you." If there was a double meaning in his answer Gerard chose to ignore it. Hehanded a piece of paper to Alien, who took it nervelessly. At least hismother's troubles were over--his were just beginning. " You will arrive forduty tomorrow morning at seven of the clock and give your name to thereceptionist at the desk in the front hall of this building. She will tellyou to whom to report, and you will hand him this paper. I know that he hasa vacancy in the counting house downstairs. You have done some maths atYale, I understand, which should mean that the post should not present youwith any difficulties. Do your duties well and diligently and you will havethe prospect of advancement. "I bid you good day." It was the signal forhim to leave. He began to utter a belated thank-you, but Gerard said, whiteteeth flashing,

    "Thank me if you survive. I am taking a chance in thinking that youwill--for, after all, your pedigree is suspect. I don't believe in visitingthe sins of the fathers on the sons, but a wise man is always cautious. Iwas harsh with you at the beginning of this interview in order to discoverwhether you could survive in a world where you will be an unconsideredsubordinate who will have to do as he is told--and quickly."

    "Oh, yes, sir," said Alien submissively.

    "I quite understand."

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    Marshall, Paula - The Quiet Man"Good--you know the way out, I believe." Outside, in the corridor. Alienleaned his head against the wall, trying to collect himself enough to face afuture far different from the one he had always dreamed of. Somehow hewould succeed--and some day he would repay Gerard Schuyler for today'shumiliating interview, come what may.

    Chapter One London, Spring, 1899 1 he London train had been making peculiarnoises, but then trains often did. Alien Marriott, who had been holidayingin Stratford-upon-Avon, but had decided to return to London a few days early,was far too busy worrying about his future to worry about a train's funnynoises. Five years ago he had been rewarded for his dedication and hisdiligence by being transferred to Schuyler Incorporated's London office as ajunior clerk. Once settled in London he had succeeded again, to the degreethat he had been made the chief clerk's second-in-command. After one pieceof work which had necessitated him cooperating with the prestigiousRothschild's firm, Rothschild's had offered him a post at a greatly increasedsalary which would enable him to support his mother. Inasmuch as he couldever be happy--for he had become a lonely soul--he had been happy in hisLondon work, and the temptation to rid himself of his last Schuyler ties wasgreat. In the beginning he had dreamed of revenge, of making Gerard Schuylerpay for having sentenced him to a life of servitude, but that dream nowseemed childish, the delusions of a spoilt boy. Once such a splendid offer

    to leave Schuyler's would have had him out of the front door in no time, butthat desire was nearly as long gone as the fortune which his father hadsquandered. To his surprise he felt a strange compunction about leaving. Hehad kept his promise to Gerard and no one knew that he and the head of thecompany were cousins. He had asked Rothschild's for time to consider theiroffer, but that time was now running out. He needed to make a decision soon.The train was halfway between Banbury and Oxford, and he was almost asleepafter the effort of trying to make up his mind what to do, when the wholeworld turned upside down in a great burst of grinding sound. Dazed withshock, assailed by ever-increasing noise, scarcely believing what washappening to him. Alien was hurled from side to side of the smallcompartment. Finally, the noise and movement subsided, and he landed on thefloor across his own valise with a thump which nearly drove the breath fromhis body, so that for a moment he lay there winded, unable to move. His headhad ended up among the dust under the opposite seat. Dust, indeed, had

    settled everywhere. At first he was too dazed to understand what must havehappened, until, in the silence which seemed to be even more menacing thanthe hideous noise which had preceded it, common sense told him that the trainmust have crashed. His right hand was grasping someone's foot--presumablythat of the elderly gentleman who had been sitting opposite to him.

    Nauseated, and a victim of shock, Alien at last summoned up sufficientresolution to sit up, to look around him and try to find out how serious theaccident was. He soon discovered that it must be very serious indeed, forthe coach was lying on its side. On his right the compartment's door andwindows were consequently at an odd angle, giving him only a view of blue skyand clouds. On his left there was no view at all. The old gentleman waslying with his back to the door. He was unconscious, but was stillbreathing. Alien crawled towards him, took his pulse and discovered it to bestrong. He decided that he could be safely left where he was for the timebeing. Because of the coach's untoward position, standing up proveddifficult, but he managed to struggle to the window and look out of it. Theview was limited, but he could see enough to confirm that the train had metits accident on a high embankment above open country.

    There was nothing for it but to open the door and risk jumping down. It tookyet another struggle to force the door open, and a great deal of blind faiththat he would not permanently injure himself before he jumped out and down onto the track. He landed heavily, but fortunately suffered no injury beyond afew more knocks and bruising--unlike the train, which he discovered had beencompletely wrecked. He was standing alone on the embankment down which the

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    Marshall, Paula - The Quiet Manlocomotive had plunged, taking its coaches with it, to lie like a woundedsnake, leaving only the last one, in which he had been travelling, with someconnection to the railway lines. Smoke and steam were rising from thelocomotive, but the eeriest thing about the whole dreadful business was thedead silence...

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