In The Markenmore Mystery (1922) by J. S. Fletcher, Harborough, who returned his home in a rural village after seven years of traveling, was talking to Harry and Harry's sister, Valencia, about some financial matters:

“Harry’s not much of a sportsman,” she said. “He’s all for books and for business. He’s making an effort to—to pull things round. Somehow or other, the estate’s got into a poor way. There may be hares and rabbits and pheasants and partridges in plenty—perhaps—but there’s precious little money!”

“We had a bad steward,” remarked Harry Markenmore, finding his tongue, and giving Harborough a significant glance. “He let things slide. I’ve taken it over myself, during the last two years. But—all our land’s let too reasonably: the rents ought to be raised.”

“Stiff proposition, that,” said Harborough.

“Most of ’em want their rents reducing, instead of raising. I expect I shall have to go into matters of that sort myself—perhaps we can put our heads together.”

“Ah, but you aren’t dependent on your farm rents!” said Valencia with a knowing look. “You’ve got town property. You see what a knowing young woman I am! All we’ve got is rent from our farms—and we landed folk are doomed: we aren’t as well off as the people we let our land to. If Harry and I could do what we’d like, we’d sell, and be done with it.”

“A good way—sometimes,” said Harborough. “Why not?”

I'm asking here about the speaker who said the whole bolded statement, because I think, from the context, that it was an addition from Harborough himself, right?

1 Answer 1


Yes, that is from Harborough. It's an expansion on "Stiff proposition, that," to explain why it is a "stiff proposition" (why it would be hard to convince the renters to agree to a rent-raise). This is further confirmed when Valencia's response to "you" is answered by Harborough.

Or, use process of elimination. It doesn't make sense for the speaker to be Markenmore because he's advocating rent reduction, and within the flow of the conversation he wouldn't be immediately arguing against himself. It doesn't make sense for the speaker to be Valencia because she is the immediate response to that paragraph, and she wouldn't respond to herself. Thus it must be Harborough.

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