Hetty Wesley is a story of the eighteenth century in England, introducing John and Charles, brothers of the heroine.
Sir Arthur Thomas Quiller-Couch was a Cornish writer, who published under the pen name of Q. He published his Dead Man's Rock (a romance in the vein of Stevenson's Treasure Island) in 1887, and he followed this up with Troy Town (1888) and The Splendid Spur (1889). After some journalistic experience in London, mainly as a contributor to the Speaker, in 1891 he settled at Fowey in Cornwall. He published in 1896 a series of critical articles, Adventures in Criticism, and in 1898 he completed Robert Louis Stevenson's unfinished novel, St Ives. With the exception of the parodies entitled Green Bays: Verses and Parodies (1893), his poetical work is contained in Poems and Ballads (1896). In 1895 he published an anthology from the sixteenth and seventeenth-century English lyrists, The Golden Pomp, followed in 1900 by an equally successful Oxford Book of English Verse, 1250-1900 (1900). He was made a Bard of Gorseth Kernow in 1928, taking the Bardic name Marghak Cough ('Red Knight').
Quiller-Couch was a noted literary critic, publishing editions of some of Shakespeare's plays (in the New Shakespeare, published by Cambridge University Press, with Dover Wilson) and several critical works, including Studies in Literature (1918) and On the Art of Reading (1920). He edited a successor to his verse anthology: Oxford Book of English Prose, which was published in 1923. He left his autobiography, Memories and Opinions, unfinished; it was nevertheless published in 1945.
"MILL-mill! A mill!"
At the entrance of Dean's Yard, Westminster, a small King's Scholar, waving his gown and yelling, collided with an old gentleman hobbling round the corner, and sat down suddenly in the gutter with a squeal, as a bagpipe collapses. The old gentleman rotated on one leg like a dervish, made an ineffectual stoop to clutch his gouty toe and wound up by bringing his rattan cane smartly down on the boy's shoulders.
"Owgh! Owgh! Stand up, you young villain! My temper's hasty, and here's a shilling-piece to cry quits. Stand up and tell me now-is it Fire, Robbery, or Murder?"
The youngster pounced at the shilling, shook off the hand on his collar, and darted down Little College Street to Hutton's Boarding House, under the windows of which he pulled up and executed a derisive war-dance.
Put up your buttons,
Hutton's are rottenly Whigs-"
"Mill-mill! Come out and carry home your Butcher Randall!
You'll be wanted when Wesley has done with him."
He was speeding back by this time, and flung this last taunt from a safe distance. The old gentleman collared him again by the entry.
"Stop, my friend-here, hold hard for a moment! A fight, you said: and Wesley-was it Wesley?"
The boy nodded.
"Well, it wouldn't be Samuel-at his age: now would it?" The boy grinned. The Reverend Samuel Wesley was the respected Head Usher of Westminster School.
"And what will Charles Wesley be fighting about?"
"How should I know? Because he wants to, belike. But I was told it began up school, with Randall's flinging a book at young Murray for a lousy Scotch Jacobite."
"H'm: and where will it be?"
The boy dropped his voice to a drawl. "In Fighting-green, I believe, sir: they told me Poets' Corner was already bespoke for a turn-up between the Dean and Sall the charwoman, with the Head Verger for bottle-holder-"
"Now, look here, young jackanapes-" But young jackanapes, catching sight of half a dozen boys-the vanguard of Hutton's-at the street corner, ducked himself free and raced from vengeance across the yard.
The old gentleman followed; and the crowd from Hutton's, surging past, showed him the way to Fighting-green where a knot of King's Scholars politely made room for him, perceiving that in spite of his small stature, his rusty wig and countrified brown suit, he was a person of some dignity and no little force of character. They read it perhaps in the set of his mouth, perhaps in the high aquiline arch of his nose, which he fed with snuff as he gazed round the ring while the fighters rested, each in his corner, after the first round: for a mill at Westminster was a ceremonious business, and the Head Master had been known to adjourn school for one.
"H'm," said the newcomer; "no need to ask which is Wesley."
His eyes set deep beneath brows bristling like a wire-haired terrier's-were on the boy in the farther corner, who sat on his backer's knee, shoeless, stripped to the buff, with an angry red mark on the right breast below the collar-bone; a slight boy and a trifle undersized, but lithe, clear-skinned, and in the pink of condition; a handsome boy, too. By his height you might have guessed him under sixteen, but his face set you doubting. There are faces almost uncannily good-looking: they charm so confidently that you shrink from predicting the good fortune they claim, and bethink you that the gods' favourites are said to die young: and Charles Wesley's was such a face. He tightened the braces about his waist and stepped forward for the second round with a sweet and serious smile. Yet his mouth meant business.
Master Randall-who stood near three inches taller-though nicknamed "Butcher," was merely a dull heavy-shouldered Briton, dogged, hard to beat; the son of a South Sea merchant, retired and living at Barnet