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The Greatest Showman – Chapter 111

Chapter 111 – Gorge Encounter

The man not far away was burly, with a sturdy and robust build exuding the wild and rough nature of a Viking. His light brown curls appeared unruly, and his deep-set features carried a sense of ruggedness and wear. A scruffy beard covered most of his cheeks, yet it couldn’t hide the straightforwardness between his brows.

At this moment, like Renly, he had a chalk bag hanging from his waist and a bright red rope attached to his back. They had just begun their free solo climbing, and he was positioned slightly below Renly. Even so, his orange T-shirt was already soaked with sweat.


Seeing the other person clearly, Renly’s voice was also filled with surprise. He searched every corner of his mind, imagining every possible person he could encounter here, but he never expected to meet this guy, especially while both of them were in the middle of free solo climbing. This was indeed very interesting.

Andre Hamilton, the youngest son of the Duke of Hamilton, is of the same age as Renly and has two older brothers. He was Renly’s roommate at Eton College. As the youngest member of the family, inheriting the title or starting a career is not something of concern for him, so he basically enjoys life as he pleases. He is the epitome of the legendary “playboy” status and the real-life example of it.

Renly was never a rule follower. Back at Eton College, he pretended to compete for the position of dormitory head and then blatantly broke the rules. For example, he would turn on the dormitory lights at midnight and kick everyone out, or send emails to inform all dormitory members of a change in class time, resulting in the teacher facing an empty classroom.

His most famous incident at Eton College was undoubtedly driving three pigs into the dormitory, causing chaos throughout the entire dorm. It took eighteen staff members an entire night to quell the commotion.

At that time, Matthew Dunlop and Andre, who is now in front of him, were Renly’s accomplices—or rather, his followers.

Defying the authority of Eton College so blatantly, wasn’t enough to get Renly expelled. His impoverished baron father was of no help, nor could Matthew’s baron father have any influence. The real reason was Andre—his father was a duke, and his mother’s family background was also very distinguished.

However, after graduation, Andre followed the family’s plan and went to Oxford. It is well known that Oxford is a stepping stone into the political arena, while Cambridge is more of an academic incubator. This shows the Hamilton family’s heritage, much like the Hall family hailing from Cambridge—hence their gradual decline, whereas the Hamiltons all come from Oxford.

Gradually, the contact between the two dwindled. Later, Renly took a break from school and went to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, and their contact faded away. The last time they met was at the New Year’s Eve party in 2007, dressed in intricate handmade suits, conversing with gentlemanly manners amidst the fragrance of perfume and the clinking of glasses. Nearly three years had passed in the blink of an eye, and their next meeting was on a desolate cliff, dressed in shorts and T-shirts, sweaty and dishevelled.

Renly grabbed the hold with his right hand, dangling in mid-air. A gust of wind blew, causing him to sway, but he still placed his left hand on his chest and nodded his head in a gentleman’s greeting. “Lord Andre.”

This greeting brought a smile to Andre’s face, and he also freed his right hand to make the same gesture. “Lord Renly.” Joy was evident in Andre’s expression. “Why are you here? I heard you went to America to embrace new challenges. I was quite envious at the time.”

“I believe the rumours are certainly not true,” Renly’s jest made Andre laugh heartily.

According to the rumours, Renly had fallen into disrepute in Hollywood, his situation worrying. Moreover, George and Elizabeth had officially frozen Renly’s bank accounts, so now he had been reduced to pawning his watch and jewellery, struggling to make ends meet.

The life of nobility is always too dull; they need more exciting experiences to spice things up.

But Renly didn’t mind at all. “I just finished a job and I needed a short vacation to relax, so…” Renly showed himself: free solo climbing, that was his vacation choice. “And you? You look like…” Renly paused before speaking again, “Alexander wouldn’t want Charlie to see this.” Charlie is Andre’s father, and Alexander is Andre’s older brother. Clearly, Andre is also an oddity in the Hamilton family.

“Staying in London all day is not a wise choice. Those guys are either hypocrites or people wearing masks. I’m only twenty years old, not sixty.” Andre’s disdainful tone vividly awakened Renly’s memories, and joyous laughter echoed in the canyon. “I still remember, when we went on vacation to Switzerland, you showed off some downhill skiing skills, which truly opened a new world for me, so here I am.”

“Obviously, I’m still that pioneering guide.” Renly’s words were filled with confidence, and Andre shrugged, “I can’t argue with that.” Both of them couldn’t help but smile.

“Are you planning to go back to London next?” Andre asked curiously.

“Oh, no. Even you are escaping from there, so how could I possibly walk into the trap?” The humorous tone made Andre smile involuntarily. Renly pulled on the rope again and said with a smile, “I’m going down now, you should keep going up. So let’s chat next time.” Free solo climbing is a highly exhausting activity, and no one can stay in one spot for long, as that would be courting death.

Andre nodded, he grabbed the fixed point again and started to regulate his breathing. “I should go to the U.S. sometime, but I haven’t decided yet whether to go to Hawaii or the mainland first. Are you planning to participate in the surfing competition on the North Shore of Oahu this December?”

“Let’s see when the time comes. I’m still looking forward to finding my next job after I go back.” Renly said with a light laugh. The two exchanged a glance and greeted each other, then Renly started to lower the rope and slowly descended.

Andre took a deep breath, focused his attention, and then began to climb up again. He moved as agilely as a leopard, lightly pushing off with the tip of his toes and using his right hand as a support to lift his whole body into the air. He stretched out his left hand to its maximum extent, grasped the protrusion above him, pulled his feet up sharply to step accurately on the support point, and then released his right hand to grab a crack in the cliff nearby.

On the other hand, Renly was steadily descending in an orderly manner. The haze that had confined his mind for more than a month finally dissipated. Although the confusion between the representational faction and the method faction still awaited resolution, the shadow of being “buried alive” was left behind.

He lifted his head and looked at the cliff top not far away. It seemed so close, yet so far. Today, he still hadn’t managed to reach the summit. It was much like his life—the path to his dream of acting, the world of acting challenges, was destined not to be smooth. This was merely the first obstacle he had encountered. Renly couldn’t help but feel a surge of excitement and eagerness to face the next challenge and make an attempt again.

A life like that would be worthwhile.

With a relaxed smile on his face and his feet firmly on the ground, Renly began to remove his equipment. The sound of a bustling crowd reached his ears, and when he turned to look, he saw a small group of about five or six people had just arrived at this relatively flat large rock. It seemed they were another group of challengers.

Glancing down, Renly noticed the intricate tools in their hands. It looked more like top-rope climbing.

Retracting his gaze and continuing to pack his gear, he heard a friendly voice next to him, “The climb just now was very thrilling. Although it’s a pity we couldn’t succeed, the performance was truly spectacular.” This was very normal during extreme sports challenges, where even strangers are happy to chat, just like the middle-aged man and Andre earlier. “It’s really a shame.”

Renly smiled, “The unpredictability of nature is one of the charms of rock climbing, isn’t it?”

“Of course, of course.” The other person laughed, somewhat nervously scratching his head. “Free solo climbing is incredibly difficult. Just watching it made my heart race. So, the little mishap at the last moment made it even more regrettable.” He revealed a set of neat white teeth, paused, and then extended his right hand, taking a step forward. “Paul Walker.”

Golden short hair, blue eyes, a brilliant smile, and a gaze that sparkled with enthusiasm and kindness, as if stars had fallen into those ocean-like eyes.

Paul, that Paul who starred in the “Fast & Furious” series, now holds a significant place in Hollywood, yet he doesn’t put on any airs, remaining sincere and candid.

Renly also extended his right hand, “Renly Hall.”

“Is this your first time trying free solo climbing?” Paul asked while shaking his head, a slightly shy smile on his lips. “It doesn’t look like it is. This is my first time trying top rope climbing outdoors, and I’m a bit nervous. I used to surf, but now I want to try something new.”

“This is my first time free solo climbing,” Renly’s lips couldn’t help but curl up slightly. “To be precise, I started training two weeks ago, had my first practical session three days ago, and today is my third attempt.” Paul widened his eyes, his expression one of unabashed astonishment. Renly shrugged, “So, you can definitely do it.”

Paul then realized that the other person was cheering him on. He scratched his head again and said, “Whew, one always has to try something new, right? Besides the ocean, nature also has mountains, forests, and deserts. We know so little about them.”

“That’s true,” Renly said, pursing his lips. “But I wouldn’t say surfing is easy. Last summer, I was at the Gold Coast, and I almost embraced the ocean forever. I’d like to show you the scars on my legs, but I think that might be too girly, so I’ll keep my mouth shut.”

“Haha!” Paul laughed heartily, clutching his stomach. “Then I’d better not show you the scar on my butt.”

“Next time, there will definitely be a chance next time,” Renly joked, packing up his gear and slinging his backpack over his shoulder. “Good luck today!” he said as he bid farewell and turned to leave the now somewhat crowded rock.

“Have a great day!” Paul waved and shouted.

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