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Chapter 4

  • Sidwell had fallen into conversation with Mr. Moorhouse. Miss Moorhouse, Mrs.
  • Warricombe, and Louis were grouped in animated talk. Observing that Fann_hrew glances towards him from a lonely corner, Peak went over to her, and wa_leased with the smile he met. Fanny had watched eyes, much brighter tha_idwell's; her youthful vivacity blended with an odd little fashion o_choolgirl pedantry in a very piquant way. Godwin's attempts at conversatio_ith her were rather awkward; he found it difficult to strike the suitabl_ote, something not too formal yet not deficient in respect.
  • 'Do you think,' he asked presently, 'that I should disturb your father if _ent to him?'
  • 'Oh, not at all! I often go and sit in the study at this time.'
  • 'Will you show me the way?'
  • Fanny at once rose, and together they crossed the hall, passed through a sor_f anteroom connecting with a fernery, and came to the study door. A tap wa_nswered by cheerful summons, and Fanny looked in.
  • 'Well, my ladybird? Ah, you are bringing Mr. Peak; come in, come in!'
  • It was a large and beautiful room, its wide windows, in a cushioned recess, looking upon the lawn where the yew tree cast solemn shade. One wall presente_n unbroken array of volumes, their livery sober but handsome; detache_ookcases occupied other portions of the irregular perimeter. Cabinets, close_nd open, were arranged with due regard to convenience. Above the mantelpiec_ung a few small photographs, but the wall-space at disposal was chiefl_ccupied with objects which illustrated Mr. Warricombe's scientific tastes. O_ stand in the light of the window gleamed two elaborate microscopes, provocative of enthusiasm in a mind such as Godwin's.
  • In a few minutes, Fanny silently retired. Her father, by no means forward t_peak of himself and his pursuits, was led in that direction by Peak'_xpressions of interest, and the two were soon busied with matters which had _harm for both. A collection of elvans formed the starting-point, and whe_hey had entered upon the wide field of palaeontology it was natural for Mr.
  • Warricombe to invite his guest's attention to the species of homalonotus whic_e had had the happiness of identifying some ten years ago—a discovery no_ecognised and chronicled. Though his sympathy was genuine enough, Godwi_truggled against an uneasy sense of manifesting excessive appreciation. Neve_blivious of himself, he could not utter the simplest phrase of admiratio_ithout criticising its justice, its tone. And at present it behoved him t_ear in mind that he was conversing with no half-bred sciolist. Mr Warricomb_bviously had his share of human weakness, but he was at once a gentleman an_ student of well-stored mind; insincerity must be very careful if it woul_ot jar upon his refined ear. So Godwin often checked himself in the utteranc_f what might sound too much like flattery. A young man talking with one muc_lder, a poor man in dialogue with a wealthy, must under any circumstance_uard his speech; for one of Godwin's aggressive idiosyncrasy the task o_iscretion had peculiar difficulties, and the attitude he had assumed a_uncheon still further complicated the operations of his mind. Only at moment_ould he speak in his true voice, and silence meant for the most part _tudious repression of much he would naturally have uttered.
  • Resurgent envy gave him no little trouble. On entering the room, he could no_ut exclaim to himself, 'How easy for a man to do notable work amid suc_urroundings! If I were but thus equipped for investigation!' And as often a_is eyes left a particular object to make a general survey, the same though_urned in him. He feared lest it should be legible on his countenance.
  • Taking a pamphlet from the table, Mr. Warricombe, with a humorous twinkle i_is eyes, inquired whether Peak read German; the answer being affirmative:
  • 'Naturally,' he rejoined, 'you could hardly have neglected so important _anguage. I, unfortunately, didn't learn it in my youth, and I have never ha_erseverance enough to struggle with it since. Something led me to take dow_his brochure the other day—an old attempt of mine to write about th_eathering of rocks. It was printed in '76, and no sooner had it seen th_ight than friends of mine wanted to know what I meant by appropriating, without acknowledgement, certain facts quite recently pointed out by Professo_faff of Erlangen! Unhappily, Professor Pfaff's results were quite unknown t_e, and I had to get them translated. The coincidences, sure enough, were ver_oticeable. Just before you came in, I was reviving that old discomfiture.'
  • Peak, in glancing over the pages, murmured with a smile:
  • 'Pereant qui ante nos nostra dixerunt!'
  • 'Even so!' exclaimed Mr. Warricombe, laughing with a subdued heartiness whic_as one of his pleasant characteristics. And, after a pause, he inquired, 'D_ou find any time to keep up your classics?'
  • 'By fits and starts. Sometimes I return to them for a month or two.'
  • 'Why, it's pretty much the same with me. Here on my table, for instance, lie_acitus. I found it mentioned not long ago that the first sentence of th_nnals is a hexameter—did you know it?— and when I had once got hold of th_ook I thought it a shabby thing to return it to the dust of its shelf withou_eading at least a few pages. So I have gone on from day to day, with n_ittle enjoyment. Buckland, as you probably know, regards these old fellow_ith scorn.'
  • 'We always differed about that.'
  • 'I can't quite decide whether he is still sincere in all he says about them.
  • Time, I suspect, is mellowing his judgment.'
  • They moved to the shelves where Greek and Latin books stood in serried order, and only the warning dinner-bell put an end to their sympathetic discussion o_he place such authors should hold in modern educational systems.
  • 'Have they shown you your room?' Mr. Warricombe asked.
  • But, as he spoke, the face of his eldest son appeared at the door.
  • 'Your traps have safely arrived, Peak.'
  • The bedroom to which Godwin was conducted had a delicious fragrance, of sourc_ndeterminable. When he had closed the door, he stood for a few moment_ooking about him; it was his first experience of the upper chambers of house_uch as this. Merely to step upon the carpet fluttered his senses: merely t_reathe the air was a purification. Luxury of the rational kind, dictated b_egard for health of body and soul, appeared in every detail. On the wall_ere water-colours, scenery of Devon and Cornwall; a hanging book-case hel_bout a score of volumes poets, essayists, novelists. Elsewhere, not to_rominent, lay a Bible and a Prayer-book.
  • He dressed, as never before, with leisurely enjoyment of the process. When th_irror declared him ready, his eyes returned frequently to an inspection o_he figure he presented, and it seemed to him that he was not unworthy to tak_is place at the dinner-table. As for his visage, might he not console himsel_ith the assurance that it was of no common stamp? 'If I met that man in _oom, I should be curious about him; I should see at once that he didn'_elong to the vulgar; I should desire to hear him speak.' And the Warricombe_ere not lacking in discernment. He would compare more than favourably wit_r. Moorhouse, whose aspect, bright and agreeable enough, made no promise o_riginality.—It must be time to go down. He left the room with an air of grav_elf-confidence.
  • At dinner he was careful to attempt no repetition of the display which ha_one very well at luncheon; it must not be thought that he had the habit o_alking for effect. Mrs. Warricombe, unless he mistook, had begun to view hi_ore favourably; her remarks made less distinction between him and the othe_uests. But he could not like his hostess; he thought her unworthy to be th_other of Sidwell and Fanny, of Buckland and Louis; there was a marked strai_f the commonplace in her. The girls, costumed for the evening, affected hi_ith a return of the awe he had all but overcome. Sidwell was exquisite i_ark colours, her sister in white. Miss Moorhouse (addressed by her friends as
  • 'Sylvia') looked older than in the day-time, and had lost something of he_nimation; possibly the country routine had begun to weary her a little.
  • Peak was at a vast distance from the hour which saw him alight at Exeter an_egin his ramble about the city. He no longer felt himself alone in the world; impossible to revive the mood in which he deliberately planned to consume hi_conomies in a year or two of desert wandering; far other were th_nticipations which warmed his mind when the after-dinner repose attuned hi_o unwonted hopefulness. This family were henceforth his friends, and i_epended only upon himself to make the connection lasting, with all manner o_enefits easily imagined. Established in the country, the Warricombes stood t_im in quite a different relation from any that could have arisen had he me_ith them in London. There he would have been nothing more than a casua_inner-guest, welcomed for the hour and all but forgotten when he had sai_ood-night. For years he had understood that London offered him no prospect o_ocial advancement. But a night passed under this roof practically raised hi_o a level whence he surveyed a rich field of possible conquest. With th_enial geologist he felt himself on excellent terms, and much of this wa_scribable to a singular chance which had masked his real being, an_epresented him, with scarce an effort of his own, in a light peculiarl_ttractive to Mr. Warricombe. He was now playing the conscious hypocrite; no_ pleasant thing to face and accept, but the fault was not his—fate ha_rought it about. At all events, he aimed at no vulgar profit; his one desir_as for human fellowship; he sought nothing but that solace which every cod_f morals has deemed legitimate. Let the society which compelled to such a_xpedient bear the burden of its shame.
  • That must indeed have been a circle of great intellects amid which Godwin Pea_elt himself subordinate. He had never known that impression, and in th_arricombe family was no one whom he could regard even as his equal. Buckland, doubtless, had some knowledge of the world, and could boast of a free mind; but he lacked subtlety: a psychological problem would easily puzzle him. Mr.
  • Warricombe's attainments were respectable, but what could be said of a man wh_ad devoted his life to geology, and still (in the year 1884) remained a_rthodox member of the Church of England? Godwin, as he sat in the drawing- room and enjoyed its atmosphere of refinement, sincerely held himself of fa_ore account as an intellectual being than all the persons about him.
  • But if his brain must dwell in solitude his heart might compass worth_lliances—the thing most needful to humanity. One may find the associates o_is intellect in libraries—the friend of one's emotions must walk in flesh an_lood. Earwaker, Moxey—these were in many respects admirable fellows, and h_ad no little love for them, but the world they represented was womanless, an_o of flagrant imperfection. Of Marcella Moxey he could not think emotionally; indeed she emphasised by her personality the lack which caused his suffering.
  • Sidwell Warricombe suggested, more completely than any woman he had ye_bserved, that companionship without which life must to the end taste bitter.
  • His interest in her was not strictly personal; she moved and spoke before hi_s a typical woman, not as the daughter of Martin Warricombe and the sister o_uckland. Here at last opened to his view that sphere of female society whic_e had known as remotely existing, the desperate aim of ambition.
  • Conventional women—but was not the phrase tautological? In the few females wh_ave liberated their souls, was not much of the woman inevitably sacrificed, and would it not be so for long years to come? On the other hand, such a on_s Sidwell might be held a perfect creature, perfect in relation to a certai_tage of human development. Look at her, as she sat conversing with Moorhouse, soft candle-light upon her face; compare her on the one hand with an averag_mancipated girl, on the other with a daughter of the people. How unsatisfyin_as the former; the latter, how repulsive! Here one had the exquisite mean, the lady as England has perfected her towards the close of this nineteent_entury. A being of marvellous delicacy, of purest instincts, of unsurpassabl_weetness. Who could not detail her limitations, obvious and, in certai_oods, irritating enough? These were nothing to the point, unless one woul_oam the world a hungry idealist; and Godwin was weary of the famine_ilgrimage.
  • The murmur of amiable voices softened him to the reception of all that wa_ood in his present surroundings, and justified in the light of sentiment hi_wn dishonour. This English home, was it not surely the best result o_ivilisation in an age devoted to material progress? Here was peace, here wa_cope for the kindliest emotions. Upon him—the born rebel, the scorner o_verage mankind, the consummate egoist—this atmosphere exercised an influenc_ore tranquillising, more beneficent, than even the mood of disintereste_tudy. In the world to which sincerity would condemn him, only the wors_lements of his character found nourishment and range; here he was humanised, made receptive of all gentle sympathies. Heroism might point him to a_nending struggle with adverse conditions, but how was heroism possibl_ithout faith? Absolute faith he had none; he was essentially a negativist, guided by the mere relations of phenomena. Nothing easier than to contemn th_ode of life represented by this wealthy middle class; but compare it wit_ther existences conceivable by a thinking man, and it was emphatically good.
  • It aimed at placidity, at benevolence, at supreme cleanliness, —things whic_ore than compensated for the absence of higher spirituality. We can be bu_hat we are; these people accepted themselves, and in so doing becam_stimable mortals. No imbecile pretensions exposed them to the rebuke of _ocial satirist; no vulgarity tainted their familiar intercourse. Thei_llegiance to a worn-out creed was felt as an added grace; thus only coul_heir souls aspire, and the imperfect poetry of their natures be developed.
  • He took an opportunity of seating himself by Mrs. Warricombe, with whom as ye_e had held no continuous dialogue.
  • 'Has there been anything of interest at the London theatres lately?' sh_sked.
  • 'I know so little of them,' Godwin replied, truthfully. 'It must be severa_ears since I saw a play.'
  • 'Then in that respect you have hardly become a Londoner.'
  • 'Nor in any other, I believe,' said Peak, with a smile. 'I have lived ther_en years, but am far from regarding London as my home. I hope a few month_ore will release me from it altogether.'
  • 'Indeed!—Perhaps you think of leaving England?'
  • 'I should be very sorry to do that—for any length of time. My wish is t_ettle somewhere in the country, and spend a year or two in quiet study.'
  • Mrs. Warricombe looked amiable surprise, but corrected herself to approvin_nterest.
  • 'I have heard some of our friends say that their minds get unstrung, if the_re long away from town, but I should have thought that country quietnes_ould be much better than London noise. My husband certainly finds it so.'
  • 'People are very differently constituted,' said Godwin. 'And then it depend_uch on the nature of one's work.'
  • Uttering these commonplaces with an air of reflection, he observed that the_id not cost him the self-contempt which was wont to be his penalty fo_oncession to the terms of polite gossip; rather, his mind accepted wit_ratitude this rare repose. He tasted something of the tranquil self-conten_hich makes life so enjoyable when one has never seen a necessity for shapin_riginal remarks. No one in this room would despise him for a platitude, wer_t but recommended with a pleasant smile. With the Moxeys, with Earwaker, h_urst not thus have spoken.
  • When the hour of separation was at hand, Buckland invited his guest to retir_ith him to a part of the house where they could smoke and chat comfortably.
  • 'Moorhouse and Louis are fagged after their twenty mile stretch this morning; I have caught both of them nodding during the last few minutes. We can sen_hem to bed without apology.'
  • He led the way upstairs to a region of lumber-rooms, whence a narrow flight o_teps brought them into a glass-house, octangular and with pointed tops, ou_pon the roof. This, he explained, had been built some twenty years ago, at _ime when Mr. Warricombe amused himself with photography. A few indications o_ts original purposes were still noticeable; an easel and a box of oil-colour_howed that someone—doubtless of the younger generation—had used it as _ainting-room; a settee and deep cane chairs made it an inviting lounge on _arm evening like the present, when, by throwing open a hinged wall, on_ooked forth into the deep sky and tasted the air from the sea.
  • 'Sidwell used to paint a little,' said Buckland, as his companion bent t_xamine a small canvas on which a landscape was roughed in. It lay on a sid_able, and was half concealed by an ordnance map, left unfolded. 'For the las_ear or two I think she has given it up. I'm afraid we are not strong i_atters of art. Neither of the girls can play very well, though of course the_oth tinkle for their own amusement. Maurice—the poor lad who was killed—gav_ good deal of artistic promise; father keeps some little water-colours o_is, which men in that line have praised—perhaps sincerely.'
  • 'I remember you used to speak slightingly of art,' said Godwin, as he took a_ffered cigar.
  • 'Did I? And of a good many other things, I daresay. It was my habit at on_ime, I believe, to grow heated in scorn of Euclid's definitions. What a_nteresting book Euclid is! Half a year ago, I was led by a talk wit_oorhouse to go through some of the old "props", and you can't imagine ho_hey delighted me. Moorhouse was so obliging as to tell me that I had a_minently deductive mind.'
  • He laughed, but not without betraying some pleasure in the remark.
  • 'Surprising,' he went on, 'how very little such a mind as Moorhouse's suggest_tself in common conversation. He is really profound in mathematics, a man o_riginal powers, but I never heard him make a remark of the slightest value o_ny other subject. Now his sister—she has studied nothing in particular, ye_he can't express an opinion that doesn't bear the stamp of originality.'
  • Godwin was contented to muse, his eyes fixed on a brilliant star in th_estern heaven.
  • 'There's only one inconsistency in her that annoys and puzzles me,' Bucklan_ursued, speaking with the cigar in his mouth. 'In religion, she seems to b_rthodox. True, we have never spoken on the subject, but—well, she goes t_hurch, and carries prayer-books. I don't know how to explain it. Hypocrisy i_he last thing one could suspect her of. I'm sure she hates it in every form.
  • And such a clear brain!—I can't understand it.'
  • The listener was still star-gazing. He had allowed his cigar, after the firs_ew puffs, to smoulder untasted; his lips were drawn into an expression ver_nlike the laxity appropriate to pleasurable smoking. When the murmur of th_ines had for a moment been audible, he said, with a forced smile:
  • 'I notice you take for granted that a clear brain and religious orthodoxy ar_ncompatible.'
  • The other gave him a keen look.
  • 'Hardly,' was Buckland's reply, spoken with less ingenuousness of tone tha_sual. 'I say that Miss Moorhouse has undeniably a strong mind, and that it i_mpossible to suspect her of the slightest hypocrisy.'
  • 'Whence the puzzle that keeps you occupied,' rejoined Peak, in a voice tha_ounded like assumption of superiority, though the accent had an agreeabl_oftness.
  • Warricombe moved as if impatiently, struck a match to rekindle his weed, ble_umultuous clouds, and finally put a blunt question:
  • 'What do you think about it yourself?'
  • 'From my point of view, there is no puzzle at all,' Godwin replied, in a ver_lear voice, smiling as he met the other's look.
  • 'How am I to understand that?' asked Buckland, good-naturedly, though with _nitting of his brows.
  • 'Not as a doubt of Miss Moorhouse's sincerity. I can't see that a belief i_he Christian religion is excluded by any degree of intellectual clearness.'
  • 'No—your views have changed, Peak?'
  • 'On many subjects, this among them.'
  • 'I see.'
  • The words fell as if involuntarily from Warricombe's lips. He gazed at th_loor awhile, then, suddenly looking up, exclaimed:
  • 'It would be civil to accept this without surprise, but it is too much for me.
  • How has it come about?'
  • 'That would take me a long time to explain.'
  • 'Then,' pursued his companion, watching him closely, 'you were quite i_ympathy with that exposition you gave at lunch today?'
  • 'Quite. I hope there was nothing in my way of speaking that made you thin_therwise?'
  • 'Nothing at all. I couldn't help wondering what it meant. You seemed perfectl_n earnest, yet such talk had the oddest sound on your lips—to me, I mean. O_ourse I thought of you as I used to know you.'
  • 'Naturally.' Peak was now in an attitude of repose, his legs crossed, thum_nd forefinger stroking his chin. 'I couldn't very well turn aside to commen_n my own mental history.'
  • Here again was the note of something like genial condescension. Bucklan_eemed sensible of it, and slightly raised his eyebrows.
  • 'I am to understand that you have become strictly orthodox in matters o_eligious faith?'
  • 'The proof is,' replied Godwin, 'that I hope before long to take Orders.'
  • Again there was silence, and again the sea-breath made its whispering in th_ines. Warricombe, with a sudden gesture, pointed towards the sky.
  • 'A shooting star—one of the brightest I ever saw!'
  • 'I missed it,' said Peak, just glancing in that direction.
  • The interruption enabled Buckland to move his chair; in this new position h_as somewhat further from Peak, and had a better view of his face.
  • 'I should never have imagined you a clergyman,' he said, thoughtfully, 'but _an see that your mind has been developing powers in that direction.—Well, s_e it! I can only hope you have found your true work in life.'
  • 'But you doubt it?'
  • 'I can't say that I doubt it, as I can't understand you. To be sure, we hav_een parted for many years. In some respects I must seem much changed'—
  • 'Greatly changed,' Godwin put in, promptly.
  • 'Yes,' pursued the other, correctively, 'but not in a way that would see_ncredible to anyone whatever. I am conscious of growth in tolerance, but m_ttitude in essentials is unchanged. Thinking of you—as I have often enoug_one—I always kept the impression you made on me when we were both lads; yo_eemed most distinctly a modern mind—one of the most modern that ever cam_nder my notice. Now, I don't find it impossible to understand my father, whe_e reconciles science with religion; he was born sixty years ago. But Godwi_eak as a—a—'
  • 'Parson,' supplied Peak, drily.
  • 'Yes, as a parson—I shall have to meditate much before I grasp the notion.'
  • 'Perhaps you have dropped your philosophical studies?' said Godwin, with _mile of courteous interest.
  • 'I don't know. Metaphysics have no great interest for me, but I philosophis_n a way. I thought myself a student of human nature, at all events.'
  • 'But you haven't kept up with philosophical speculation on the points involve_n orthodox religion?'
  • 'I confess my ignorance of everything of the kind—unless you include Bisho_lougram among the philosophers?'
  • Godwin bore the gaze which accompanied this significant inquiry. For a momen_e smiled, but there followed an expression of gravity touched with pain.
  • 'I hadn't thought of broaching this matter,' he said, with slow utterance, bu_till in a tone of perfect friendliness. 'Let us put it aside.'
  • Warricombe seemed to make an effort, and his next words had the accent o_ell-bred consideration which distinguished his ordinary talk.
  • 'Pray forgive my bad joke. I merely meant that I have no right whatever t_rgue with anyone who has given serious attention to such things. They ar_ltogether beyond my sphere. I was born an agnostic, and no subtlety o_emonstration could incline me for a moment to theological views; my intellec_efuses to admit a single preliminary of such arguments. You astonish me, an_hat's all I am justified in saying.'
  • 'My dear Warricombe, you are justified in saying whatever your mind suggests.
  • That is one of the principles which I hold unaltered— let me be quite fran_ith you. I should never have decided upon such a step as this, but for th_act that I have managed to put by a small sum of money which will make m_ndependent for two or three years. Till quite lately I hadn't a thought o_sing my freedom in this way; it was clear to me that I must throw over th_ld drudgery at Rotherhithe, but this resolve which astonishes you had not ye_ipened—I saw it only as one of the possibilities of my life. Well, now, it'_nly too true that there's something of speculation in my purpose; I look t_he Church, not only as a congenial sphere of activity, but as a means o_ubsistence. In a man of no fortune this is inevitable; I hope there i_othing to be ashamed of. Even if the conditions of the case allowed it, _houldn't present myself for ordination forthwith; I must study and prepar_yself in quietness. How the practical details will be arranged, I can't say; I have no family influence, and I must hope to make friends who will open _ay for me. I have always lived apart from society; but that isn't natural t_e, and it becomes more distasteful the older I grow. The probability is tha_ shall settle somewhere in the country, where I can live decently on a smal_ncome. After all, it's better I should have let you know this at once. I onl_ealised a few minutes ago that to be silent about my projects was in a way t_e guilty of false pretences.'
  • The adroitness of this last remark, which directed itself, with such show o_andour, against a suspicion precisely the opposite of that likely to b_ntertained by the listener, succeeded in disarming Warricombe; he looked u_ith a smile of reassurance, and spoke encouragingly.
  • 'About the practical details I don't think you need have any anxiety. It isn'_very day that the Church of England gets such a recruit. Let me suggest tha_ou have a talk with my father.'
  • Peak reflected on the proposal, and replied to it with grave thoughtfulness:
  • 'That's very kind of you, but I should have a difficulty in asking Mr.
  • Warricombe's advice. I'm afraid I must go on in my own way for a time. It wil_e a few months, I daresay, before I can release myself from my engagements i_ondon.'
  • 'But I am to understand that your mind is really made up?'
  • 'Oh, quite!'
  • 'Well, no doubt we shall have opportunities of talking. We must meet in town, if possible. You have excited my curiosity, and I can't help hoping you'll le_e see a little further into your mind some day. When I first got hold o_ewman's Apologia, I began to read it with the utmost eagerness, flatterin_yself that now at length I should understand how a man of brains could trave_uch a road. I was horribly disappointed, and not a little enraged, when _ound that he began by assuming the very beliefs I thought he was going t_ustify. In you I shall hope for more logic.'
  • 'Newman is incapable of understanding such an objection,' said Peak, with _ook of amusement.
  • 'But you are not.'
  • The dialogue grew chatty. When they exchanged good-night, Peak fancied tha_he pressure of Buckland's hand was less fervent than at their meeting, bu_is manner no longer seemed to indicate distrust. Probably the agnostic's moo_as one of half-tolerant disdain.
  • Godwin turned the key in his bedroom door, and strayed aimlessly about. He wa_atigued, but the white, fragrant bed did not yet invite him; a turbulence i_is brain gave warning that it would be long before he slept. He wound up hi_atch; the hands pointed to twelve. Chancing to come before the mirror, he sa_hat he was unusually pale, and that his eyes had a swollen look.
  • The profound stillness was oppressive to him; he started nervously at a_ndefined object in a dim corner, and went nearer to examine it; he wa_rritable, vaguely discontented, and had even a moment of nausea, perhaps th_esult of tobacco stronger than he was accustomed to smoke. After leaning fo_ive minutes at the open window, he felt a soothing effect from the air, an_ould think consecutively of the day's events. What had happened seemed to hi_ncredible; it was as though he revived a mad dream, of ludicrous coherence.
  • Since his display of rhetoric at luncheon all was downright somnambulism. Wha_atal power had subdued him? What extraordinary influence had guided hi_ongue, constrained his features? His conscious self had had no part in al_his comedy; now for the first time was he taking count of the character h_ad played.
  • Had he been told this morning that—Why, what monstrous folly was all this?
  • Into what unspeakable baseness had he fallen? Happily, he had but to tak_eave of the Warricombe household, and rush into some region where he wa_nknown. Years hence, he would relate the story to Earwaker.
  • For a long time he suffered the torments of this awakening. shame buffeted hi_n the right cheek and the left; he looked about like one who slinks fro_erited chastisement. Oh, thrice ignoble varlet! To pose with unctuou_ypocrisy before people who had welcomed him under their roof, unquestioned, with all the grace and kindliness of English hospitality! To lie shamelessl_n the face of his old fellow-student, who had been so genuinely glad to mee_im again!
  • Yet such possibility had not been unforeseen. At the times of his profoun_loom, when solitude and desire crushed his spirit, he had wished that fat_ould afford him such an opportunity of knavish success. His imagination ha_layed with the idea that a man like himself might well be driven to thi_xpedient, and might even use it with life-long result. Of a certainty, th_hurch numbered such men among her priests,—not mere lukewarm sceptics wh_ade religion a source of income, nor yet those who had honestly entered th_ortal and by necessity were held from withdrawing, though their conviction_ad changed; but deliberate schemers from the first, ambitious but hungr_atures, keen-sighted, unscrupulous. And they were at no loss to defen_hemselves against the attack of conscience. Life is a terrific struggle fo_ll who begin it with no endowments save their brains. A hypocrite was no_ecessarily a harm-doer; easy to picture the unbelieving priest whos_nfluence was vastly for good, in word and deed.
  • But he, he who had ever prided himself on his truth-fronting intellect, an_ad freely uttered his scorn of the credulous mob! He who was his ow_riterion of moral right and wrong! No wonder he felt like a whipped cur. I_as the ancestral vice in his blood, brought out by over-temptin_ircumstance. The long line of base-born predecessors, the grovelling hind_nd mechanics of his genealogy, were responsible for this. Oh for a nam_herewith honour was hereditary!
  • His eyes were blinded by a rush of hot tears. Down, down—into the depths o_ttermost despondency, of self-pity and self-contempt! Had it bee_racticable, he would have fled from the house, leaving its occupants to thin_f him as they would; even as, ten years ago, he had fled from the sham_mpending over him at Kingsmill. A cowardly instinct, this; having once acte_pon it gave to his whole life a taint of craven meanness. Mere bluster, al_is talk of mental dignity and uncompromising scorn of superstitions. A wea_nd idle man, whose best years were already wasted!
  • He gazed deliberately at himself in the glass, at his red eyelids an_nsightly lips. Darkness was best; perhaps he might forget his shame for a_our or two, ere the dawn renewed it. He threw off his garments heedlessly, extinguished the lamp, and crept into the ready hiding-place.