Part 4 out of 10
'Do you feel you would like to shoot it?' asked Miss Moorhouse--
who a moment ago had very closely examined Peak's face.
'To shoot it--why do you ask that?'
'Confess that you felt the desire.'
'Every man does,' replied Buckland, 'until he has had a moment to
recover himself. That's the human instinct.'
'The male human instinct. Thank you for your honesty.'
They drove on, and by a wide circuit, occasionally stopping for the
view, returned to the Old Tiverton Road, and so home. By this time
Louis Warricombe and Mr. Moorhouse were back from their walk.
Reposing in the company of the ladies, they had partaken of such
refreshments as are lawful at five o'clock, and now welcomed with
vivacity the later arrivals. Moorhouse was something older than
Buckland, a sallow-cheeked man with forehead and eyes expressive of
much intelligence. Till of late he had been a Cambridge tutor, but
was now privately occupied in mathematical pursuits. Louis
Warricombe had not yet made up his mind what profession to follow,
and to aid the process of resolve had for the present devoted
himself to physical exercise.
Tea-cup in hand, Godwin seated himself by Sidwell, who began by
inquiring how the drive had pleased him. The fervour of his reply
caused her to smile with special graciousness, and their
conversation was uninterrupted for some minutes. Then Fanny came
forward with a book of mosses, her own collection, which she had
mentioned to Peak as they were talking together in the carriage.
'Do you make special study of any science?' Sidwell asked, when
certain remarks of Godwin's had proved his familiarity with the
things he was inspecting.
'It is long since I worked seriously at anything of the kind,' he
answered; adding in a moment, 'except at chemistry--that only
because it is my business.'
'Organic or inorganic chemistry?' inquired Fanny, with the
promptness of a schoolgirl who wishes to have it known that her
ideas are no longer vague.
'Organic for the most part,' Godwin replied, smiling at her. 'And of
the most disagreeable kind.'
Sidwell reflected, then put another question, but with some
'I think you were once fond of geology?'
It was the first allusion to that beginning of their acquaintance,
ten years ago. Peak succeeded in meeting her look with steadiness.
'Yes, I still like it.'
'Father's collections have been much improved since you saw them at
'I hope Mr. Warricombe will let me see them.'
Buckland came up and made an apology for drawing his friend aside.
'Will you let us send for your traps? You may just as well have a
room here for a night or two.'
Perpetually imagining some kind chance that might associate him with
civilised people, Godwin could not even pack his portmanteau for a
ramble to Land's End without stowing away a dress suit. He was thus
saved what would have been an embarrassment of special annoyance.
Without hesitation, he accepted Buckland's offer, and named the
hotel at which the luggage was deposited.
'All right; the messenger shall explain. Our name's well enough
known to them. If you would like to look up my father in his study,
he'll be delighted to go over his collections with you. You still
care for that kind of thing?'
'Most certainly. How can you doubt it?'
Buckland smiled, and gave no other reply.
'Ask Fanny to show you the way when you care to go.' And he left the
Sidwell had fallen into conversation with Mr. Moorhouse. Miss
Moorhouse, Mrs. Warricombe, and Louis were grouped in animated talk.
Observing that Fanny threw glances towards him from a lonely corner,
Peak went over to her, and was pleased with the smile he met. Fanny
had watched eyes, much brighter than Sidwell's; her youthful
vivacity blended with an odd little fashion of schoolgirl pedantry
in a very piquant way. Godwin's attempts at conversation with her
were rather awkward; he found it difficult to strike the suitable
note, something not too formal yet not deficient in respect.
'Do you think,' he asked presently, 'that I should disturb your
father if I went 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 sort of anteroom connecting with a fernery, and came to
the study door. A tap was answered by cheerful summons, and Fanny
'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 presented an unbroken array of volumes, their livery sober
but handsome; detached bookcases occupied other portions of the
irregular perimeter. Cabinets, closed and open, were arranged with
due regard to convenience. Above the mantelpiece hung a few small
photographs, but the wall-space at disposal was chiefly occupied
with objects which illustrated Mr. Warricombe's scientific tastes. On
a 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 to speak of himself and his pursuits, was led in that
direction by Peak's expressions of interest, and the two were soon
busied with matters which had a charm for both. A collection of
elvans formed the starting-point, and when they 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~ which
he had had the happiness of identifying some ten years ago--a
discovery now recognised and chronicled. Though his sympathy was
genuine enough, Godwin struggled against an uneasy sense of
manifesting excessive appreciation. Never oblivious of himself, he
could not utter the simplest phrase of admiration without
criticising its justice, its tone. And at present it behoved him to
bear in mind that he was conversing with no half-bred sciolist. Mr
Warricombe obviously had his share of human weakness, but he was at
once a gentleman and a student of well-stored mind; insincerity must
be very careful if it would not jar upon his refined ear. So Godwin
often checked himself in the utterance of what might sound too much
like flattery. A young man talking with one much older, a poor man
in dialogue with a wealthy, must under any circumstances guard his
speech; for one of Godwin's aggressive idiosyncrasy the task of
discretion had peculiar difficulties, and the attitude he had
assumed at luncheon still further complicated the operations of his
mind. Only at moments could he speak in his true voice, and silence
meant for the most part a studious repression of much he would
naturally have uttered.
Resurgent envy gave him no little trouble. On entering the room, he
could not but exclaim to himself, 'How easy for a man to do notable
work amid such surroundings! If I were but thus equipped for
investigation!' And as often as his eyes left a particular object to
make a general survey, the same thought burned in him. He feared
lest it should be legible on his countenance.
Taking a pamphlet from the table, Mr. Warricombe, with a humorous
twinkle in his eyes, inquired whether Peak read German; the answer
'Naturally,' he rejoined, 'you could hardly have neglected so
important a language. I, unfortunately, didn't learn it in my youth,
and I have never had perseverance enough to struggle with it since.
Something led me to take down this brochure the other day--an old
attempt of mine to write about the weathering of rocks. It was
printed in '76, and no sooner had it seen the light than friends of
mine wanted to know what I meant by appropriating, without
acknowledgement, certain facts quite recently pointed out by
Professor Pfaff of Erlangen! Unhappily, Professor Pfaff's results
were quite unknown to me, and I had to get them translated. The
coincidences, sure enough, were very noticeable. 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 which was one of his pleasant characteristics. And, after
a pause, he inquired, 'Do you find any time to keep up your
'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, lies Tacitus. I found it mentioned not long ago that the
first sentence of the ~Annals~ is a hexameter--did you know it?--
and when I had once got hold of the book I thought it a shabby thing
to return it to the dust of its shelf without reading at least a few
pages. So I have gone on from day to day, with no little enjoyment.
Buckland, as you probably know, regards these old fellows with
'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 of the 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 source indeterminable. When he had closed the door, he stood for
a few moments looking about him; it was his first experience of the
upper chambers of houses such as this. Merely to step upon the
carpet fluttered his senses: merely to breathe the air was a
purification. Luxury of the rational kind, dictated by regard for
health of body and soul, appeared in every detail. On the walls were
water-colours, scenery of Devon and Cornwall; a hanging book-case
held about a score of volumes poets, essayists, novelists.
Elsewhere, not too prominent, lay a Bible and a Prayer-book.
He dressed, as never before, with leisurely enjoyment of the
process. When the mirror declared him ready, his eyes returned
frequently to an inspection of the figure he presented, and it
seemed to him that he was not unworthy to take his place at the
dinner-table. As for his visage, might he not console himself with
the assurance that it was of no common stamp? 'If I met that man in
a room, I should be curious about him; I should see at once that he
didn't belong to the vulgar; I should desire to hear him speak.' And
the Warricombes were not lacking in discernment. He would compare
more than favourably with Mr. Moorhouse, whose aspect, bright and
agreeable enough, made no promise of originality.--It must be time
to go down. He left the room with an air of grave self-confidence.
At dinner he was careful to attempt no repetition of the display
which had done very well at luncheon; it must not be thought that he
had the habit of talking for effect. Mrs. Warricombe, unless he
mistook, had begun to view him more favourably; her remarks made
less distinction between him and the other guests. But he could not
like his hostess; he thought her unworthy to be the mother of
Sidwell and Fanny, of Buckland and Louis; there was a marked strain
of the commonplace in her. The girls, costumed for the evening,
affected him with a return of the awe he had all but overcome.
Sidwell was exquisite in dark 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 her animation; 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 and begin 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 his economies in a year or two of
desert wandering; far other were the anticipations which warmed his
mind when the after-dinner repose attuned him to unwonted
hopefulness. This family were henceforth his friends, and it
depended only upon himself to make the connection lasting, with all
manner of benefits easily imagined. Established in the country, the
Warricombes stood to him in quite a different relation from any that
could have arisen had he met with them in London. There he would
have been nothing more than a casual dinner-guest, welcomed for the
hour and all but forgotten when he had said good-night. For years he
had understood that London offered him no prospect of social
advancement. But a night passed under this roof practically raised
him to a level whence he surveyed a rich field of possible conquest.
With the genial geologist he felt himself on excellent terms, and
much of this was ascribable to a singular chance which had masked
his real being, and represented him, with scarce an effort of his
own, in a light peculiarly attractive to Mr. Warricombe. He was now
playing the conscious hypocrite; not a pleasant thing to face and
accept, but the fault was not his--fate had brought it about. At
all events, he aimed at no vulgar profit; his one desire was for
human fellowship; he sought nothing but that solace which every code
of morals has deemed legitimate. Let the society which compelled to
such an expedient bear the burden of its shame.
That must indeed have been a circle of great intellects amid which
Godwin Peak felt himself subordinate. He had never known that
impression, and in the Warricombe 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 who
had devoted his life to geology, and still (in the year 1884)
remained an orthodox member of the Church of England? Godwin, as he
sat in the drawing-room and enjoyed its atmosphere of refinement,
sincerely held himself of far more account as an intellectual being
than all the persons about him.
But if his brain must dwell in solitude his heart might compass
worthy alliances--the thing most needful to humanity. One may find
the associates of his intellect in libraries--the friend of one's
emotions must walk in flesh and blood. Earwaker, Moxey--these were
in many respects admirable fellows, and he had no little love for
them, but the world they represented was womanless, and so 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 yet observed, that companionship without which
life must to the end taste bitter. His interest in her was not
strictly personal; she moved and spoke before him as a typical
woman, not as the daughter of Martin Warricombe and the sister of
Buckland. Here at last opened to his view that sphere of female
society which he had known as remotely existing, the desperate aim
Conventional women--but was not the phrase tautological? In the
few females who have 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 one as Sidwell might be held a
perfect creature, perfect in relation to a certain stage 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
average emancipated girl, on the other with a daughter of the
people. How unsatisfying was the former; the latter, how repulsive!
Here one had the exquisite mean, the lady as England has perfected
her towards the close of this nineteenth century. A being of
marvellous delicacy, of purest instincts, of unsurpassable
sweetness. Who could not detail her limitations, obvious and, in
certain moods, irritating enough? These were nothing to the point,
unless one would roam the world a hungry idealist; and Godwin was
weary of the famined pilgrimage.
The murmur of amiable voices softened him to the reception of all
that was good in his present surroundings, and justified in the
light of sentiment his own dishonour. This English home, was it not
surely the best result of civilisation in an age devoted to material
progress? Here was peace, here was scope for the kindliest emotions.
Upon him--the born rebel, the scorner of average mankind, the
consummate egoist--this atmosphere exercised an influence more
tranquillising, more beneficent, than even the mood of disinterested
study. In the world to which sincerity would condemn him, only the
worst elements of his character found nourishment and range; here he
was humanised, made receptive of all gentle sympathies. Heroism
might point him to an unending struggle with adverse conditions, but
how was heroism possible without faith? Absolute faith he had none;
he was essentially a negativist, guided by the mere relations of
phenomena. Nothing easier than to contemn the mode of life
represented by this wealthy middle class; but compare it with other
existences conceivable by a thinking man, and it was emphatically
good. It aimed at placidity, at benevolence, at supreme cleanliness,
--things which more than compensated for the absence of higher
spirituality. We can be but what we are; these people accepted
themselves, and in so doing became estimable mortals. No imbecile
pretensions exposed them to the rebuke of a social satirist; no
vulgarity tainted their familiar intercourse. Their allegiance to a
worn-out creed was felt as an added grace; thus only could their
souls aspire, and the imperfect poetry of their natures be
He took an opportunity of seating himself by Mrs. Warricombe, with
whom as yet he had held no continuous dialogue.
'Has there been anything of interest at the London theatres lately?'
'I know so little of them,' Godwin replied, truthfully. 'It must be
several years 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 there ten years, but am far from regarding London as my home.
I hope a few months more 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 to settle somewhere in the country, and spend a year or two
in quiet study.'
Mrs. Warricombe looked amiable surprise, but corrected herself to
'I have heard some of our friends say that their minds get unstrung,
if they are long away from town, but I should have thought that
country quietness would be much better than London noise. My husband
certainly finds it so.'
'People are very differently constituted,' said Godwin. 'And then it
depends much on the nature of one's work.'
Uttering these commonplaces with an air of reflection, he observed
that they did not cost him the self-contempt which was wont to be
his penalty for concession to the terms of polite gossip; rather,
his mind accepted with gratitude this rare repose. He tasted
something of the tranquil self-content which makes life so enjoyable
when one has never seen a necessity for shaping original remarks. No
one in this room would despise him for a platitude, were it but
recommended with a pleasant smile. With the Moxeys, with Earwaker,
he durst not thus have spoken.
When the hour of separation was at hand, Buckland invited his guest
to retire with him to a part of the house where they could smoke and
'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 send them to bed without apology.'
He led the way upstairs to a region of lumber-rooms, whence a narrow
flight of steps brought them into a glass-house, octangular and with
pointed tops, out upon the roof. This, he explained, had been built
some twenty years ago, at a time when Mr. Warricombe amused himself
with photography. A few indications of its original purposes were
still noticeable; an easel and a box of oil-colours showed that
someone--doubtless of the younger generation--had used it as a
painting-room; a settee and deep cane chairs made it an inviting
lounge on a warm evening like the present, when, by throwing open a
hinged wall, one looked forth into the deep sky and tasted the air
from the sea.
'Sidwell used to paint a little,' said Buckland, as his companion
bent to examine a small canvas on which a landscape was roughed in.
It lay on a side table, and was half concealed by an ordnance map,
left unfolded. 'For the last year or two I think she has given it
up. I'm afraid we are not strong in matters of art. Neither of the
girls can play very well, though of course they both tinkle for
their own amusement. Maurice--the poor lad who was killed--gave
a good deal of artistic promise; father keeps some little
water-colours of his, which men in that line have praised--perhaps
'I remember you used to speak slightingly of art,' said Godwin, as
he took an offered cigar.
'Did I? And of a good many other things, I daresay. It was my habit
at one time, I believe, to grow heated in scorn of Euclid's
definitions. What an interesting book Euclid is! Half a year ago, I
was led by a talk with Moorhouse to go through some of the old
"props", and you can't imagine how they delighted me. Moorhouse was
so obliging as to tell me that I had an eminently 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 suggests itself in common conversation. He is really
profound in mathematics, a man of original powers, but I never heard
him make a remark of the slightest value on any other subject. Now
his sister--she has studied nothing in particular, yet she 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
the western heaven.
'There's only one inconsistency in her that annoys and puzzles me,'
Buckland pursued, speaking with the cigar in his mouth. 'In
religion, she seems to be orthodox. True, we have never spoken on
the subject, but--well, she goes to church, and carries
prayer-books. I don't know how to explain it. Hypocrisy is the 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 first few puffs, to smoulder untasted; his lips were drawn into
an expression very unlike the laxity appropriate to pleasurable
smoking. When the murmur of the pines 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 are incompatible.'
The other gave him a keen look.
'Hardly,' was Buckland's reply, spoken with less ingenuousness of
tone than usual. 'I say that Miss Moorhouse has undeniably a strong
mind, and that it is impossible to suspect her of the slightest
'Whence the puzzle that keeps you occupied,' rejoined Peak, in a
voice that sounded like assumption of superiority, though the accent
had an agreeable softness.
Warricombe moved as if impatiently, struck a match to rekindle his
weed, blew tumultuous 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 very clear voice, smiling as he met the other's look.
'How am I to understand that?' asked Buckland, good-naturedly,
though with a knitting of his brows.
'Not as a doubt of Miss Moorhouse's sincerity. I can't see that a
belief in the Christian religion is excluded by any degree of
'No--your views have changed, Peak?'
'On many subjects, this among them.'
The words fell as if involuntarily from Warricombe's lips. He gazed
at the floor 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
in sympathy with that exposition you gave at lunch today?'
'Quite. I hope there was nothing in my way of speaking that made you
'Nothing at all. I couldn't help wondering what it meant. You seemed
perfectly in earnest, yet such talk had the oddest sound on your
lips--to me, I mean. Of course I thought of you as I used to know
'Naturally.' Peak was now in an attitude of repose, his legs
crossed, thumb and forefinger stroking his chin. 'I couldn't very
well turn aside to comment on my own mental history.'
Here again was the note of something like genial condescension.
Buckland seemed sensible of it, and slightly raised his eyebrows.
'I am to understand that you have become strictly orthodox in
matters of religious faith?'
'The proof is,' replied Godwin, 'that I hope before long to take
Again there was silence, and again the sea-breath made its
whispering in the pines. 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 he was somewhat further from Peak, and had a better view of
'I should never have imagined you a clergyman,' he said,
thoughtfully, 'but I can see that your mind has been developing
powers in that direction.--Well, so be 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 have been parted for many years. In some respects I must seem
'Greatly changed,' Godwin put in, promptly.
'Yes,' pursued the other, correctively, 'but not in a way that would
seem incredible to anyone whatever. I am conscious of growth in
tolerance, but my attitude in essentials is unchanged. Thinking of
you--as I have often enough done--I always kept the impression
you made on me when we were both lads; you seemed most distinctly a
modern mind--one of the most modern that ever came under my
notice. Now, I don't find it impossible to understand my father,
when he reconciles science with religion; he was born sixty years
ago. But Godwin Peak as a--a--'
'Parson,' supplied Peak, drily.
'Yes, as a parson--I shall have to meditate much before I grasp
'Perhaps you have dropped your philosophical studies?' said Godwin,
with a smile of courteous interest.
'I don't know. Metaphysics have no great interest for me, but I
philosophise in 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 involved in orthodox religion?'
'I confess my ignorance of everything of the kind--unless you
include Bishop Blougram among the philosophers?'
Godwin bore the gaze which accompanied this significant inquiry. For
a moment he smiled, but there followed an expression of gravity
touched with pain.
'I hadn't thought of broaching this matter,' he said, with slow
utterance, but still in a tone of perfect friendliness. 'Let us put
Warricombe seemed to make an effort, and his next words had the
accent of well-bred consideration which distinguished his ordinary
'Pray forgive my bad joke. I merely meant that I have no right
whatever to argue with anyone who has given serious attention to
such things. They are altogether beyond my sphere. I was born an
agnostic, and no subtlety of demonstration could incline me for a
moment to theological views; my intellect refuses to admit a single
preliminary of such arguments. You astonish me, and that'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 frank with you. I should never have decided upon
such a step as this, but for the fact that I have managed to put by
a small sum of money which will make me independent for two or three
years. Till quite lately I hadn't a thought of using my freedom in
this way; it was clear to me that I must throw over the old drudgery
at Rotherhithe, but this resolve which astonishes you had not yet
ripened--I saw it only as one of the possibilities of my life.
Well, now, it's only too true that there's something of speculation
in my purpose; I look to the Church, not only as a congenial sphere
of activity, but as a means of subsistence. In a man of no fortune
this is inevitable; I hope there is nothing to be ashamed of. Even
if the conditions of the case allowed it, I shouldn't present myself
for ordination forthwith; I must study and prepare myself 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 a way for me. I have always lived apart from society; but that
isn't natural to me, and it becomes more distasteful the older I
grow. The probability is that I shall settle somewhere in the
country, where I can live decently on a small income. After all,
it's better I should have let you know this at once. I only realised
a few minutes ago that to be silent about my projects was in a way
to be guilty of false pretences.'
The adroitness of this last remark, which directed itself, with such
show of candour, against a suspicion precisely the opposite of that
likely to be entertained by the listener, succeeded in disarming
Warricombe; he looked up with a smile of reassurance, and spoke
'About the practical details I don't think you need have any
anxiety. It isn't every day that the Church of England gets such a
recruit. Let me suggest that you have a talk with my father.'
Peak reflected on the proposal, and replied to it with grave
'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 will be a few months, I daresay, before I can release
myself from my engagements in London.'
'But I am to understand that your mind is really made up?'
'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 let me see a little further into your mind some
day. When I first got hold of Newman's ~Apologia~, I began to read
it with the utmost eagerness, flattering myself that now at length I
should understand how a man of brains could travel such a road. I
was horribly disappointed, and not a little enraged, when I found
that he began by assuming the very beliefs I thought he was going to
justify. In you I shall hope for more logic.'
'Newman is incapable of understanding such an objection,' said Peak,
with a look of amusement.
'But you are not.'
The dialogue grew chatty. When they exchanged good-night, Peak
fancied that the pressure of Buckland's hand was less fervent than
at their meeting, but his manner no longer seemed to indicate
distrust. Probably the agnostic's mood was one of half-tolerant
Godwin turned the key in his bedroom door, and strayed aimlessly
about. He was fatigued, but the white, fragrant bed did not yet
invite him; a turbulence in his brain gave warning that it would be
long before he slept. He wound up his watch; the hands pointed to
twelve. Chancing to come before the mirror, he saw that he was
unusually pale, and that his eyes had a swollen look.
The profound stillness was oppressive to him; he started nervously
at an undefined object in a dim corner, and went nearer to examine
it; he was irritable, vaguely discontented, and had even a moment of
nausea, perhaps the result of tobacco stronger than he was
accustomed to smoke. After leaning for five minutes at the open
window, he felt a soothing effect from the air, and could think
consecutively of the day's events. What had happened seemed to him
incredible; it was as though he revived a mad dream, of ludicrous
coherence. Since his display of rhetoric at luncheon all was
downright somnambulism. What fatal power had subdued him? What
extraordinary influence had guided his tongue, constrained his
features? His conscious self had had no part in all this comedy; now
for the first time was he taking count of the character he had
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 take leave of the Warricombe household, and rush into
some region where he was unknown. Years hence, he would relate the
story to Earwaker.
For a long time he suffered the torments of this awakening. shame
buffeted him on the right cheek and the left; he looked about like
one who slinks from merited chastisement. Oh, thrice ignoble varlet!
To pose with unctuous hypocrisy before people who had welcomed him
under their roof, unquestioned, with all the grace and kindliness of
English hospitality! To lie shamelessly in the face of his old
fellow-student, who had been so genuinely glad to meet him again!
Yet such possibility had not been unforeseen. At the times of his
profound gloom, when solitude and desire crushed his spirit, he had
wished that fate would afford him such an opportunity of knavish
success. His imagination had played with the idea that a man like
himself might well be driven to this expedient, and might even use
it with life-long result. Of a certainty, the Church numbered such
men among her priests,--not mere lukewarm sceptics who made
religion a source of income, nor yet those who had honestly entered
the portal and by necessity were held from withdrawing, though their
convictions had changed; but deliberate schemers from the first,
ambitious but hungry natures, keen-sighted, unscrupulous. And they
were at no loss to defend themselves against the attack of
conscience. Life is a terrific struggle for all who begin it with no
endowments save their brains. A hypocrite was not necessarily a
harm-doer; easy to picture the unbelieving priest whose influence
was vastly for good, in word and deed.
But he, he who had ever prided himself on his truth-fronting
intellect, and had freely uttered his scorn of the credulous mob! He
who was his own criterion of moral right and wrong! No wonder he
felt like a whipped cur. It was the ancestral vice in his blood,
brought out by over-tempting circumstance. The long line of
base-born predecessors, the grovelling hinds and mechanics of his
genealogy, were responsible for this. Oh for a name wherewith honour
His eyes were blinded by a rush of hot tears. Down, down--into the
depths of uttermost despondency, of self-pity and self-contempt! Had
it been practicable, he would have fled from the house, leaving its
occupants to think of him as they would; even as, ten years ago, he
had fled from the shame impending over him at Kingsmill. A cowardly
instinct, this; having once acted upon it gave to his whole life a
taint of craven meanness. Mere bluster, all his talk of mental
dignity and uncompromising scorn of superstitions. A weak and idle
man, whose best years were already wasted!
He gazed deliberately at himself in the glass, at his red eyelids
and unsightly lips. Darkness was best; perhaps he might forget his
shame for an hour or two, ere the dawn renewed it. He threw off his
garments heedlessly, extinguished the lamp, and crept into the ready
'Why are you obstinately silent? [wrote Earwaker, in a letter
addressed to Godwin at his Peckham lodgings]. I take it for granted
that you must by this time be back from your holiday. Why haven't
you replied to my letter of a fortnight ago? Nothing yet from ~The
Critical~. If you are really at work as usual, come and see me
to-morrow evening, any time after eight. The posture of my affairs
grows dubious; the shadow of Kenyon thickens about me. In all
seriousness I think I shall be driven from ~The Weekly Post~ before
long. My quarrels with Runcorn are too frequent, and his
blackguardism keeps more than pace with the times. Come or write,
for I want to know how things go with you.
Peak read this at breakfast on a Saturday morning. It was early in
September, and three weeks had elapsed since his return from the
west of England. Upon the autumn had fallen a blight of cold and
rainy weather, which did not enhance the cheerfulness of daily
journeying between Peckham Rye and Rotherhithe. When it was
necessary for him to set forth to the train, he muttered
imprecations, for a mood of inactivity possessed him; he would
gladly have stayed in his comfortable sitting-room, idling over
books or only occupied with languid thought.
In the afternoon he was at liberty to follow his impulse, and this
directed him to the British Museum, whither of late he had several
times resorted as a reader. Among the half-dozen books for which he
applied was one in German, Reusch's ~Bibel und Natur~. After a
little dallying, he became absorbed in this work, and two or three
hours passed before its hold on his attention slackened. He seldom
changed his position; the volume was propped against others, and he
sat bending forward, his arms folded upon the desk. When he was thus
deeply engaged, his face had a hard, stern aspect; if by chance his
eye wandered for a moment, its look seemed to express resentment of
At length he threw himself back with a sudden yielding to weariness,
crossed his legs, sank together in the chair, and for half-an-hour
brooded darkly. A fit of yawning admonished him that it was time to
quit the atmosphere of study. He betook himself to a restaurant in
the Strand, and thence about eight o'clock made his way to Staple
Inn, where the journalist gave him cheerful welcome.
'Day after day I have meant to write,' thus he excused himself. 'But
I had really nothing to say.'
'You don't look any better for your holiday,' Earwaker remarked.
'Holiday? Oh, I had forgotten all about it. When do ~you~ go?'
'The situation is comical. I feel sure that if I leave town, my
connection with the ~Post~will come to an end. I shall have a note
from Runcorn saying that we had better take this opportunity of
terminating my engagement. On the whole I should be glad, yet I
can't make up my mind to be ousted by Kenyon--that's what it
means. They want to get me away, but I stick on, postponing holiday
from week to week. Runcorn can't decide to send me about my
business, yet every leader I write enrages him. But for Kenyon, I
should gain my point; I feel sure of it. It's one of those cases in
which homicide would be justified by public interest. If Kenyon gets
my place, the paper becomes at once an organ of ruffiandom, the
delight of the blackguardry.'
'How's the circulation?' inquired Peak.
'Pretty sound; that adds to the joke. This series of stories by
Doubleday has helped us a good deal, and my contention is, if we can
keep financially right by help of this kind, why not make a little
sacrifice for the sake of raising our political tone? Runcorn won't
see it; he listens eagerly to Kenyon's assurance that we might sell
several thousand more by striking the true pot-house note.'
'Then pitch the thing over! Wash your hands, and go to cleaner
'The work I am doing is clean enough,' replied Earwaker. 'Let me
have my way, and I can make the paper a decent one and a useful one.
I shan't easily find another such chance.'
'Your idealism has a strong root,' said Godwin, rather
contemptuously. 'I half envy you. There must be a distinct pleasure
in believing that any intellectual influence will exalt the English
'I'm not sure that I do believe it, but I enjoy the experiment. The
chief pleasure, I suppose, is in fighting Runcorn and Kenyon.'
'They are too strong for you, Earwaker. They have the spirit of the
age to back them up.'
The journalist became silent; he smiled, but the harassment of
conflict marked his features.
'I hear nothing about "The New Sophistry",' he remarked, when Godwin
had begun to examine some books that lay on the table. 'Dolby has
the trick of keeping manuscripts a long time. Everything that seems
at the first glance tolerable, he sends to the printer, then muses
over it at his leisure. Probably your paper is in type.'
'I don't care a rap whether it is or not. What do you think of this
book of Oldwinkle's?'
He was holding a volume of humorous stories, which had greatly taken
the fancy of the public.
'It's uncommonly good,' replied the journalist, laughing. 'I had a
prejudice against the fellow, but he has overcome me. It's more than
good farce--something like really strong humour here and there.'
'I quite believe it,' said Peak, 'yet I couldn't read a page.
Whatever the mob enjoys is at once spoilt for me, however good I
should otherwise think it. I am sick of seeing and hearing the man's
Earwaker shook his head in deprecation.
'Narrow, my boy. One must be able to judge and enjoy impartially.'
'I know it, but I shall never improve. This book seems to me to have
a bad smell; it looks mauled with dirty fingers. I despise Oldwinkle
for his popularity. To make them laugh, and to laugh ~with~ them--
They debated this point for some time, Peak growing more violent,
though his friend preserved a smiling equanimity. A tirade of
virulent contempt, in which Godwin exhibited all his powers of
savage eloquence, was broken by a visitor's summons at the door.
'Here's Malkin,' said the journalist; 'you'll see each other at
Peak could not at once command himself to the look and tone
desirable in meeting a stranger; leaning against the mantelpiece, he
gazed with a scowl of curiosity at the man who presented himself,
and when he shook hands, it was in silence. But Malkin made speech
from the others unnecessary for several minutes. With animated voice
and gesture, he poured forth apologies for his failure to keep the
appointment of six or seven weeks ago.
'Only the gravest call of duty could have kept me away, I do assure
you! No doubt Earwaker has informed you of the circumstances. I
telegraphed--I think I telegraphed; didn't I, Earwaker?'
'I have some recollection of a word or two of scant excuse,' replied
'But I implore you to consider the haste I was in,' cried Malkin;
'not five minutes, Mr. Peak, to book, to register luggage, to do
everything; not five minutes, I protest! But here we are at last.
Let us talk! Let us talk!'
He seated himself with an air of supreme enjoyment, and began to
cram the bowl of a large pipe from a bulky pouch.
'How stands the fight with Kenyon and Co.?' he cried, as soon as the
tobacco was glowing.
Earwaker briefly repeated what he had told Peak.
'Hold out! No surrender and no compromise! What's your opinion, Mr
Peak, on the abstract question? Is a popular paper likely, or not,
to be damaged in its circulation by improvement of style and tone--
within the limits of discretion?'
'I shouldn't be surprised if it were,' Peak answered, drily.
'I'm afraid you're right. There's no use in blinking truths, however
disagreeable. But, for Earwaker, that isn't the main issue. What he
has to do is to assert himself. Every man's first duty is to assert
himself. At all events, this is how I regard the matter. I am all
for individualism, for the development of one's personality at
whatever cost. No compromise on points of faith! Earwaker has his
ideal of journalistic duty, and in a fight with fellows like Runcorn
and Kenyon he must stand firm as a rock.'
'I can't see that he's called upon to fight at all,' said Peak.
'He's in a false position; let him get out of it.'
'A false position? I can't see that. No man better fitted than
Earwaker to raise the tone of Radical journalism. Here's a big
Sunday newspaper practically in his hands; it seems to me that the
circumstances give him a grand opportunity of making his force felt.
What are we all seeking but an opportunity for striking out with
Godwin listened with a sceptical smile, and made answer in slow,
'Earwaker happens to be employed and paid by certain capitalists to
increase the sale of their paper.'
'My dear sir!' cried the other, bouncing upon his seat. 'How can you
take such a view? A great newspaper surely cannot be regarded as a
mere source of income. These capitalists declare that they have at
heart the interests of the working classes; so has Earwaker, and he
is far better able than they to promote those interests. His duty is
to apply their money to the best use, morally speaking. If he were
lukewarm in the matter, I should be the first to advise his
retirement; but this fight is entirely congenial to him. I trust he
will hold his own to the last possible moment.'
'You must remember,' put in the journalist, with a look of
amusement, 'that Peak has no sympathy with Radicalism.'
'I lament it, but that does not affect my argument. If you were a
high Tory, I should urge you just as strongly to assert yourself.
Surely you agree with this point of mine, Mr. Peak? You admit that a
man must develop whatever strength is in him.'
'I'm not at all sure of that.'
Malkin fixed himself sideways in the chair, and examined his
collocutor's face earnestly. He endeavoured to subdue his excitement
to the tone of courteous debate, but the words that at length
escaped him were humorously blunt.
'Then of what ~are~ you sure?'
'Now we touch bottom!' cried Malkin. 'Philosophically speaking, I
agree with you. But we have to live our lives, and I suppose we must
direct ourselves by some conscious principle.'
'I don't see the necessity,' Peak replied, still in an impassive
tone. 'We may very well be guided by circumstances as they arise. To
be sure, there's a principle in that, but I take it you mean
'Yes I do. I hold that the will must direct circumstances, not
receive its impulse from them. How, then, are we to be guided? What
do you set before yourself?'
'To get through life with as much satisfaction and as little pain as
'You are a hedonist, then. Well and good! Then that is your
'No, it isn't.'
'How am I to understand you?'
'By recognising that a man's intellectual and moral principles as
likely as not tend to anything but his happiness.'
'I can't admit it!' exclaimed Malkin, leaping from his chair. 'What~
'I don't know.'
'Earwaker, ~what~ is happiness? What ~is~ happiness?'
'I really don't know,' answered the journalist, mirthfully.
'This is trifling with a grave question. We all know perfectly well
that happiness is the conscious exertion of individual powers. Why
is there so much suffering under our present social system? Because
the majority of men are crushed to a dead level of mechanical toil,
with no opportunity of developing their special faculties. Give a
man scope, and happiness is put within his reach.'
'What do you mean by scope?' inquired Godwin.
'Scope? Scope? Why, room to expand. The vice of our society is
hypocrisy; it comes of over-crowding. When a man isn't allowed to be
himself, he takes refuge in a mean imitation of those other men who
appear to be better off. That was what sent me off to South America.
I got into politics, and found that I was in danger of growing
dishonest, of compromising, and toadying. In the wilderness, I found
myself again.--Do you seriously believe that happiness can be
obtained by ignoring one's convictions?'
He addressed the question to both, snuffing the air with head thrown
'What if you have no convictions?' asked Peak.
'Then you are incapable of happiness in any worthy sense! You may
graze, but you will never feast.'
The listeners joined in laughter, and Malkin, after a moment's
hesitation, allowed his face to relax in good-humoured sympathy.
'Now look here!' he cried. 'You--Earwaker; suppose you sent
conscience to the devil, and set yourself to please Runcorn by
increasing the circulation of your paper by whatever means. You
would flourish, undoubtedly. In a short time you would be chief
editor, and your pockets would burst with money. But what about your
peace of mind? What about happiness?'
'Why, I'm disposed to agree with Peak,' answered the journalist. 'If
I ~could~ take that line, I should be a happier man than
conscientiousness will ever make me.'
Malkin swelled with indignation.
'You don't mean it! You are turning a grave argument into jest!--
Where's my hat? Where the devil is my hat? Send for me again when
you are disposed to talk seriously.'
He strode towards the door, but Earwaker arrested him with a shout.
'You're leaving your pipe!'
'So I am. Where is it?--Did I tell you where I bought this pipe?'
'No. What's the wood?'
On the instant Malkin fell into a cheerful vein of reminiscence. In
five minutes he was giving a rapturous description of tropical
scenes, laughing joyously as he addressed now one now the other of
'I hear you have a mind to see those countries, Mr. Peak,' he said at
length. 'If you care for a travelling companion--rather
short-tempered, but you'll pardon that--pray give me the
preference. I should enjoy above all things to travel with a man of
'It's very doubtful whether I shall ever get so far,' Godwin
And, as he spoke, he rose to take leave. Earwaker's protest that it
was not yet ten o'clock did not influence him.
'I want to reflect on the meaning of happiness,' he said, extending
his hand to Malkin; and, in spite of the smile, his face had a
The two who were left of course discussed him.
'You won't care much for Peak,' said Earwaker. 'He and I suit each
other, because there's a good deal of indifferentism in both of us.
Moral earnestness always goes against the grain with him; I've
noticed it frequently.'
'I'm sorry I spoke so dogmatically. It wasn't altogether good
manners. Suppose I write him a short letter, just expressing my
regret for having been led away'--
' Needless, needless,' laughed the journalist. 'He thinks all the
better of you for your zeal. But happiness is a sore point with him;
few men, I should think, have known less of it. I can't imagine any
circumstances which would make him thoroughly at peace with himself
and the world.'
'Poor fellow! You can see something of that in his face. Why doesn't
he get married?'
'A remarkable suggestion!--By the way, why don't ~you~?'.
'My dear boy, there's nothing I wish more, but it's a business of
such fearful precariousness. I'm one of those men whom marriage will
either make or ruin. You know my characteristics; the slightest
check upon my independence, and all's up with me. The woman I marry
must be perfectly reasonable, perfectly good-tempered; she must have
excellent education, and every delicacy of breeding. Where am I to
find this paragon?'
'Society is open to you.'
'True, but I am not open to society. I don't take kindly to the
people of my own class. No, I tell you what--my only chance of
getting a suitable wife is to train some very young girl for the
purpose. Don't misunderstand me, for heaven's sake! I mean that I
must make a friendship with some schoolgirl in whose education I can
have a voice, whose relatives will permit me to influence her mind
and develop her character. What do you think of this idea?'
'Not bad, but it demands patience.'
'And who more patient than I? But let us talk of that poor Mrs. Jacox
and her girls. You feel that you know them pretty well from my
letters, don't you? Nothing more monstrous can be imagined than the
treatment to which this poor woman has been subjected! I couldn't
have believed that such dishonesty and brutality were possible in
English families of decent position. Her husband deserted her, her
brother robbed her, her sister-in-law libelled her,--the whole
story is nauseating!'
'You're quite sure that she tells you the truth?'
Malkin glared with sudden resentment.
'The truth? What! you also desire to calumniate her? For shame,
Earwaker! A poor widow toiling to support herself in a foreign
country, with two children dependent on her.'
'Yes, yes, yes; but you seem to know very little of her.'
'I know her perfectly, and all her circumstances!'
Mrs. Jacox was the mother of the two girls whom Malkin had escorted
to Rouen, after an hour or so of all but casual acquaintance. She
and her history had come in a very slight degree under the notice of
certain good-natured people with whom Malkin was on friendly terms,
and hearing that the children, Bella and Lily, aged fourteen and
twelve respectively, were about to undertake alone a journey to the
Continent, the erratic hero felt it incumbent upon him to see them
safe at their mother's side. Instead of returning forthwith, he
lingered in Normandy for several weeks, striking off at length, on
the summons of a friend, to Orleans, whence he was only to-day
returned. Two or three letters had kept Earwaker informed of his
movements. Of Mrs. Jacox he wrote as he now spoke, with compassionate
respect, and the girls, according to him, were exquisite models of
'You haven't told me,' said Earwaker, calmly fronting the indignant
outburst, 'what her circumstances are--at present.'
'She assists an English lady in the management of a boardinghouse,'
Malkin replied, with an air which forbade trivial comment. 'Bella
and Lily will of course continue their studies. I daresay I shall
run over now and then to see them.'
'May I, without offence, inquire if either of these young ladies
seems suitable for the ideal training of which you spoke?'
Malkin smiled thoughtfully. He stood with his legs apart and stroked
his blond beard.
'The surmise is not unnatural. Well, I confess that Bella has
inspired me with no little interest. She is rather mature,
unfortunately; I wish she had been Lily's age. We shall see; we
Musing, he refilled his pipe, and gossip was prolonged till
something after one o'clock. Malkin was never known to retire
willingly from an evening's congenial talk until the small hours
were in progress.
Peak, on reaching home about eleven, was surprised to see a light in
his sitting-room window. As he entered, his landlady informed him
that Mr. Moxey had been waiting upstairs for an hour or two.
Christian was reading. He laid down the book and rose languidly. His
face was flushed, and he spoke with a laugh which suggested that a
fit of despondency (as occasionally happened) had tempted him to
excess in cordials. Godwin understood these signs. He knew that his
friend's intellect was rather brightened than impaired by such
stimulus, and he affected not to be conscious of any peculiarity.
'As you wouldn't come to me,' Christian began, 'I had no choice but
to come to you. My visit isn't unwelcome, I hope?'
'Certainly not. But how are you going to get home? You know the
'Don't trouble. I shan't go to bed to-night. Let me sit here and
read, will you? If I feel tired I can lie down on the sofa. What a
delightful book this is! I must get it.'
It was a history of the Italian Renaissance, recently published.
'Where does this phrase come from?' he continued, pointing to a
scrap of paper, used as a book-mark, on which Godwin had pencilled a
note. The words were: '~Foris ut moris, intus ut libet~.'
'It's mentioned there,' Peak replied, 'as the motto of those
humanists who outwardly conformed to the common faith.'
'I see. All very well when the Inquisition was flourishing, but
sounds ignoble nowadays.'
'Do you think so? In a half-civilised age, whether the sixteenth or
the nineteenth century, a wise man may do worse than adopt it.'
'Better be honest, surely?'
Peak stood for a moment as if in doubt, then exclaimed irritably:
'Honest? Honest? Who is or can be honest? Who truly declares
himself? When a man has learnt that truth is indeterminable, how is
it more moral to go about crying that you don't believe a certain
dogma than to concede that the dogma may possibly be true? This new
morality of the agnostics is mere paltry conceit. Why must I make
solemn declaration that I don't believe in absolute knowledge? I
might as well be called upon to inform all my acquaintances how I
stand with regard to the theories of chemical affinity. One's
philosophy has nothing to do with the business of life. If I chose
to become a Church of England clergyman, what moral objection could
This illustration was so amusing to Moxey, that his surprise at what
preceded gave way to laughter.
'I wonder,' he exclaimed, 'that you never seriously thought of a
profession for which you are so evidently cut out.'
Godwin kept silence; his face had darkened, and he seated himself
with sullen weariness.
'Tell me what you've been doing,' resumed Moxey. 'Why haven't I
heard from you?'
'I should have come in a day or two. I thought you were probably out
'Her husband is ill,' said the other, by way of reply. He leaned
forward with his arms upon the table, and gazed at Godwin with eyes
of peculiar brightness.
'Ill, is he?' returned Godwin, with slow interest. 'In the same way
'Yes, but much worse.'
Christian paused; and when he again spoke it was hurriedly,
'How can I help getting excited about it? How can I behave decently?
You're the only man I ever speak to on the subject, and no doubt I
both weary and disgust you; but I ~must~ speak to some one. My
nerves are strung beyond endurance; it's only by speaking that I can
ease myself from the intolerable strain.'
'Have you seen her lately?'
'Yesterday, for a moment, in the street. It's ten months since the
'Well,' remarked Godwin, abruptly, 'it's probable the man will die
one of these days, then your trials will have a happy end. I see no
harm in hoping that his life may be short--that's a conventional
feeling. If two people can be benefited by the death of a single
person, why shouldn't we be glad in the prospect of his dying? Not
of his suffering--that's quite another thing. But die he must; and
to curtail the life of a being who at length wholly ceases to exist
is no injury. You can't injure a nonentity. Do you think I should
take it ill if I knew that some persons were wishing my death? Why,
look, if ever I crush a little green fly that crawls upon me in the
fields, at once I am filled with envy of its fate--sincerest envy.
To have passed so suddenly from being into nothingness--how
blessed an extinction! To feel in that way, instinctively, in the
very depths of your soul, is to be a true pessimist. If I had ever
doubted my sincerity in pessimism, this experience, several times
repeated, would have reassured me.'
Christian covered his face, and brooded for a long time, whilst
Godwin sat with his eyes on vacancy.
'Come and see us to-morrow,' said the former, at length.
'Why do you keep away?'
'I'm in no mood for society.'
'We'll have no one. Only Marcella and I.'
Again a long silence.
'Marcella is going in for comparative philology,' Christian resumed,
with the gentle tone in which he invariably spoke of his sister.
'What a mind that girl has! I never knew any woman of half her
Godwin said nothing.
'No,' continued the other fervently, 'nor of half her goodness. I
sometimes think that no mortal could come nearer to our ideal of
moral justice and purity. If it were not for her, I should long ago
have gone to perdition, in one way or another. It's her strength,
not my own, that has saved me. I daresay you know this?'
'There's some truth in it, I believe,' Peak answered, his eye
'See how circumstances can affect one's judgment. If, just about the
time I first knew you, I had abandoned myself to a life of sottish
despair, of course I should have charged Constance with the blame of
it. Now that I have struggled on, I can see that she has been a
blessing to me instead of a curse. If Marcella has given me
strength, I have to thank Constance for the spiritual joy which
otherwise I should never have known.'
Peak uttered a short laugh.
'That is only saying that she ~might~ have been ruinous, but in the
course of circumstances has proved helpful. I envy your power of
deriving comfort from such reflections.'
'Well, we view things differently. I have the habit of looking to
the consolatory facts of life, you to the depressing. There's an
unfortunate lack in you, Peak; you seem insensible to female
influence, and I believe that is closely connected with your
Godwin laughed again, this time with mocking length of note. 'Come
now, isn't it true?' urged the other. 'Sincerely, do you care for
women at all?'
'A grave misfortune, depend upon it! It accounts for nearly
everything that is unsatisfactory in your life. If you had ever been
sincerely devoted to a woman, be assured your powers would have
developed in a way of which you have no conception. It's no answer
to tell me that ~I~ am still a mere trifler, never likely to do
anything of account; I haven't it in me to be anything better, and I
might easily have become much worse. But you might have made
yourself a great position--I mean, you ~might~ do so; you are
still very young. If only you knew the desire of a woman's help.'
'You really think so?' said Godwin, with grave irony.
'I am sure of it! There's no harm in repeating what you have often
told me--your egoism oppresses you. A woman's influence takes one
out of oneself. No man can be a better authority on this than I. For
more than eleven years I have worshipped one woman with absolute
'Absolute?' interrupted Godwin, bluntly.
'What exception occurs to you?'
'As you challenge inquiry, forgive me for asking what your interest
was in one of your cousins at Twybridge?'
Christian started, and averted his face with a look of
'Do you mean to say that you knew anything about that?'
'I was always an observer,' Peak replied, smiling. 'You don't
remember, perhaps, that I happened to be present when a letter had
just arrived for you at your uncle's house--a letter which
evidently disturbed you?'
'This is astonishing! Peak, you're a terrible fellow! Heaven forbid
that I should ever be at your mercy! Yes, you are quite right,' he
continued, despondently. 'But that was no real unfaithfulness. I
don't quite know how to explain it. I ~did~ make love to poor Janet,
and with the result that I have never since seen any of the family.
My uncle, when he found I had drawn back, was very savage--
naturally enough. Marcella and I never again went to Twybridge. I
liked Janet; she was a good, kind girl. I believed just then that my
love for Constance was hopeless; my mood impelled me to the
conviction that the best thing I could do was to marry Janet and
settle down to a peaceful domestic life. Then came that letter--it
was from Constance herself. It meant nothing, yet it was enough to
revive all my hopes. I rushed off--! How brutally I had behaved!
Poor little Janet!'
He let his face fall upon his hands.
'Allow me an indiscreet question,' said Peak, after a silence. 'Have
you any founded hope of marrying Constance if she becomes a widow?'
Christian started and looked up with wide eyes.
'Hope? Every hope! I have the absolute assurance of her love.'
'But I mustn't mislead you,' pursued the other, hurriedly. 'Our
relations are absolutely pure. I have only allowed myself to see her
at very long intervals. Why shouldn't I tell you? It was less than a
year after her marriage; I found her alone in a room in a friend's
house; her eyes were red with weeping. I couldn't help holding my
hand to her. She took it, and held it for a moment, and looked at me
steadily, and whispered my name--that was all. I knew then that
she repented of her marriage--who can say what led her into it? I
was poor, you know; perhaps--but in spite of all, she ~did~ love
me. There has never since been anything like a scene of emotion
between us--~that~ her conscience couldn't allow. She is a
noble-minded woman, and has done her duty. But if she is free'--
He quivered with passionate feeling.
'And you are content,' said Godwin, drily, 'to have wasted ten years
of your life for such a possibility?'
'Wasted!' Christian exclaimed. 'Come, come, Peak; why ~will ~you
affect this wretched cynicism? Is it waste of years to have lived
with the highest and purest ideal perpetually before one's mind?
What can a man do better than, having found an admirable woman, to
worship her thenceforth, and defy every temptation that could lead
him astray? I don't like to seem boastful, but I ~have~ lived purely
and devotedly. And if the test endured to the end of my life, I
could sustain it. Is the consciousness of my love nothing to
Constance? Has it not helped her?'
Such profound sincerity was astonishing to Peak. He did not admire
it, for it seemed to him, in this case at all events, the fatal
weakness of a character it was impossible not to love. Though he
could not declare his doubts, he thought it more than probable that
this Laura of the voiceless Petrarch was unworthy of such constancy,
and that she had no intention whatever of rewarding it, even if the
opportunity arrived. But this was the mere speculation of a
pessimist; he might be altogether wrong, for he had never denied the
existence of high virtue, in man or woman.
'There goes midnight!' he remarked, turning from the subject. 'You
can't sleep, neither can I. Why shouldn't we walk into town?'
'By all means; on condition that you will come home with me, and
spend to-morrow there.'
They set forth, and with varied talk, often broken by long silences,
made their way through sleeping suburbs to the dark valley of
There passed another month, during which Peak was neither seen nor
heard of by his friends. One evening in October, as he sat studying
at the British Museum, a friendly voice claimed his attention. He
rose nervously and met the searching eye of Buckland Warricombe.
'I had it in mind to write to you,' said the latter. 'Since we
parted down yonder I have been running about a good deal, with few
days in town. Do you often read here?'
'Generally on Saturday afternoon.'
Buckland glanced at the open volume, and caught a heading,
'Still at the works?'
'Yes; I shall be there till Christmas--no longer.'
'Are you by chance disengaged to-morrow? Could you dine with me? I
shall be alone; perhaps you don't mind that? We could exchange views
on "fate, free-will, foreknowledge absolute".'
Godwin accepted the invitation, and Warricombe, unable to linger,
took leave of him.
They met the next evening in Buckland's rooms, not far from the
Houses of Parliament. Commonplace comfort was the note of these
quarters. Peak wondered that a man who had it in his power to
surround himself with evidences of taste should be content to dwell
thus. His host seemed to detect this thought in the glances Godwin
cast about him.
'Nothing but a ~pied-a-terre~. I have been here three or four years,
but I don't think of it as a home. I suppose I shall settle
somewhere before long: yet, on the whole, what does it matter where
one lives? There's something in the atmosphere of our time that
makes one indisposed to strike roots in the old way. Who knows how
long there'll be such a thing as real property? We are getting to
think of ourselves as lodgers; it's as well to be indifferent about
a notice to quit.'
'Many people would still make a good fight for the old homes,'
'Yes; I daresay I should myself, if I were a family man. A wife and
children are strong persuasions to conservatism. In those who have
anything, that's to say. Let the families who have nothing learn how
they stand in point of numbers, and we shall see what we shall see.'
'And you are doing your best to teach them that.'
'A few other things at the same time. One isn't necessarily an
anarchist, you know.'
'What enormous faith you must have in the metaphysical powers of the
'Trenchant! But say, rather, in the universal self-interest. That's
the trait of human nature which we have in mind when we speak of
enlightenment. The aim of practical Radicalism is to instruct men's
selfishness. Astonishing how capable it is of being instructed! The
mistake of the Socialist lies in his crediting men with far too much
self-esteem, far too little perception of their own limits. The
characteristic of mankind at large is humility.'
Peak began to understand his old acquaintance; he had imagined him
less acute. Gratified by the smile of interest, Warricombe added:
'There are forces of madness; I have shown you that I make allowance
for them. But they are only dangerous so long as privilege allies
itself with hypocrisy. The task of the modern civiliser is to sweep
away sham idealisms.'
'I agree with you,' Godwin replied.
With sudden change of mood, Buckland began to speak of an
indifferent topic of the day, and in a few minutes they sat down to
Not till the welcome tobacco blended its aroma with that of coffee
did a frankly personal note sound in their conversation.
'So at Christmas you are free,' said Warricombe. 'You still think of
'I have decided to go down into Devonshire.'
'I shall stay first of all in Exeter,' Godwin replied, with
deliberation; 'one can get hold of books there.'
'Yes, especially of the ecclesiastical colour.'
'You are still unable to regard my position with anything but
contempt?' Peak asked, looking steadily at the critical face.
'Come now; what does it all mean? Of course I quite understand how
tolerant the Church is becoming: I know what latitude it permits in
its servants. But what do you propose to yourself?'
'Precisely what you call the work of the civiliser--to attack sham
'As for instance--?'
'The authority of the mob,' answered Peak, suavely.
'Your clericalism is political, then?'
'To a great extent.'
'I discern a vague sort of consistency in this. You regard the
Church formulas as merely symbolical--useful for the purposes of
'Rather for the purposes of eternity.'
'In the human sense.'
'In every sense.'
Warricombe perceived that no directness of questioning would elicit
literal response, and on the whole this relieved him. To hear Godwin
Peak using the language of a fervent curate would have excited in
him something more than disgust. It did not seem impossible that a
nature like Peak's--intellectually arrogant, vehemently
anti-popular--should have been attracted by the traditions, the
social prestige, of the Anglican Church; nor at all unlikely that a
mind so constituted should justify a seeming acceptance of dogmas,
which in the strict sense it despised. But he was made uneasy by his
ignorance of Peak's private life during the years since their
parting at College. He did not like to think of the possible
establishment of intimacy between this man of low origin, uncertain
career, boundless ambition, and the household of Martin Warricombe.
There could be no doubt that Peak had decided to go to Exeter
because of the social prospects recently opened to him. In the
vulgar phrase, he had probably 'taken stock' of Mr. Warricombe's
idiosyncrasy, and saw therein a valuable opportunity for a
theological student, who at the same time was a devotee of natural
science. To be sure, the people at Exeter could be put on their
guard. On the other hand, Peak had plainly avowed his desire to form
social connections of the useful kind; in his position such an aim
was essential, a mere matter of course.
Godwin's voice interrupted this train of thought.
'Let me ask you a plain question. You have twice been kind enough to
introduce me to your home as a friend of yours. Am I guilty of
presumption in hoping that your parents will continue to regard me
as an acquaintance? I trust there's no need to assure you that I
know the meaning of discretion.'
An appeal to Buckland's generosity seldom failed. Yes, it was true
that he had more than once encouraged the hope now frankly
expressed. Indulging a correspondent frankness, he might explain
that Peak's position was so distasteful to him that it disturbed the
future with many kinds of uncertainty. But this would be churlish.
He must treat his guest as a gentleman, so long as nothing compelled
him to take the less agreeable view.
'My dear Peak, let us have none of these formalities. My parents
have distinctly invited you to go and see them whenever you are in
the neighbourhood. I am quite sure they will help to make your stay
in Exeter a pleasant one.'
Therewith closed the hazardous dialogue. Warricombe turned at once
to a safe topic--that of contemporary fiction, and they chatted
pleasantly enough for the rest of the evening.
Not many days after this, Godwin received by post an envelope which
contained certain proof sheets, and therewith a note in which the
editor of ~The Critical Review~ signified his acceptance of a paper
entitled 'The New Sophistry'. The communication was originally
addressed to Earwaker, who had scribbled at the foot, 'Correct, if
you are alive, and send back to Dolby.'
The next morning he did not set out as usual for Rotherhithe.
Through the night he had not closed his eyes; he was in a state of
nervousness which bordered on fever. A dozen times he had read over
the proofs, with throbbing pulse, with exultant self-admiration: but
the printer's errors which had caught his eye, and a few faults of
phrase, were still uncorrected. What a capital piece of writing it
was! What a flagellation of M'Naughten and all his tribe! If this
did not rouse echoes in the literary world--
Through the long day he sat in languor or paced his room like one
made restless by pain. Only when the gloom of nightfall obliged him
to light his lamp did he at length sit down to the table and
carefully revise the proofs, pen in hand. When he had made up the
packet for post, he wrote to Earwaker.
'I had forgotten all about this thing. Proofs have gone to Dolby. I
have not signed; probably he would object to my doing so. As it is,
the paper can be ascribed to anyone, and attention thus excited. We
shall see paragraphs attributing it to men of mark--perhaps
scandal will fix it on a bishop. In any case, don't let out the
secret. I beg this seriously, and for a solid reason. Not a word to
anyone, however intimate. If Dolby betrays ~your~ name, grin and
bear it. I depend upon your friendship.'
In a by-way which declines from the main thoroughfare of Exeter, and
bears the name of Longbrook Street, is a row of small houses placed
above long strips of sloping garden. They are old and plain, with no
architectural feature calling for mention, unless it be the latticed
porch which gives the doors an awkward quaintness. Just beyond, the
road crosses a hollow, and begins the ascent of a hill here
interposed between the city and the inland-winding valley of Exe.
The little terrace may be regarded as urban or rural, according to
the tastes and occasions of those who dwell there. In one direction,
a walk of five minutes will conduct to the middle of High Street,
and in the other it takes scarcely longer to reach the open country.
On the upper floor of one of these cottages, Godwin Peak had made
his abode. Sitting-room and bedchamber, furnished with homely
comfort, answered to his bachelor needs, and would allow of his
receiving without embarrassment any visitor whom fortune might send
him. Of quietness he was assured, for a widow and her son, alike
remarkable for sobriety of demeanour, were the only persons who
shared the house with him. Mrs. Roots could not compare in grace and
skill with the little Frenchwoman who had sweetened his existence at
Peckham Rye, but her zeal made amends for natural deficiency, and
the timorous respect with which she waited upon him was by no means
disagreeable to Godwin. Her reply to a request or suggestion was
always, 'If you please, sir.' Throughout the day she went so
tranquilly about her domestic duties, that Godwin seldom heard
anything except the voice of the cuckoo-clock, a pleasant sound to
him. Her son, employed at a nurseryman's, was a great sinewy fellow
with a face of such ruddiness that it seemed to diffuse warmth; on
Sunday afternoon, whatever the state of the sky, he sat behind the
house in his shirt-sleeves, and smoked a pipe as he contemplated the
hart's-tongue which grew there upon a rockery.
'The gentleman from London'--so Mrs. Roots was wont to style her
lodger in speaking with neighbours--had brought his books with
him; they found place on a few shelves. His microscope had its stand
by the window, and one or two other scientific implements lay about
the room. The cabinets bequeathed to him by Mr. Gunnery he had sent
to Twybridge, to remain in his mother's care. In taking the
lodgings, he described himself merely as a student, and gave his
landlady to understand that he hoped to remain under her roof for at
least a year. Of his extreme respectability, the widow could
entertain no doubt, for he dressed with aristocratic finish,
attended services at the Cathedral and elsewhere very frequently,
and made the most punctual payments. Moreover, a casual remark had
informed her that he was on friendly terms with Mr. Martin
Warricombe, whom her son knew as a gentleman of distinction. He
often sat up very late at night, but, doubtless, that was the
practice of Londoners. No lodger could have given less trouble, or
have acknowledged with more courtesy all that was done for his
No one ever called upon Mr. Peak, but he was often from home for many
hours together, probably on visits to great people in city or
country. It seemed rather strange, however, that the postman so
seldom brought anything for him. Though he had now been more than
two months in the house, he had received only three letters, and
those at long intervals.
Noticeable was the improvement in his health since his arrival here.
The pallor of his cheeks was giving place to a wholesome tinge; his
eye was brighter; he showed more disposition to converse, and was
readier with pleasant smiles. Mrs. Roots even heard him singing in
his bedroom--though, oddly enough, it was a secular song on Sunday
morning. The weekly bills for food, which at first had been very
modest, grew richer in items. Godwin had, in fact, never felt so
well. He extended his walks in every direction, sometimes rambling
up the valley to sleepy little towns where he could rest in the
parlours of old inns, sometimes striking across country to this or
that point of the sea-coast, or making his way to the nearer summits
of Dartmoor, noble in their wintry desolation. He marked with
delight every promise of returning spring. When he could only grant
himself a walk of an hour or two in the sunny afternoon, there was
many a deep lane within easy reach, where the gorse gleamed in
masses of gold, and the little oak-trees in the hedges were ruddy
with last year's clinging leafage, and catkins hung from the hazels,
and the fresh green of sprouting ivy crept over bank and wall. Had
he now been in London, the morning would have awakened him to the
glow of sunrise, he felt the sweet air breathing health into fog and
slush and misery. As it was, when he looked out upon his frame and
vigour into his mind. There were moments when he could all but say
of himself that he was at peace with the world.
As on a morning towards the end of March, when a wind from the
Atlantic swept spaces of brightest blue amid the speeding clouds,
and sang joyously as it rushed over hill and dale. It was the very
day for an upland walk, for a putting forth of one's strength in
conflict with boisterous gusts and sudden showers, that give a taste
of earth's nourishment. But Godwin had something else in view. After
breakfast, he sat down to finish a piece of work which had occupied
him for two or three days, a translation from a German periodical.
His mind wrought easily, and he often hummed an air as his pen moved
over the paper. When the task was completed, he rolled his papers
and the pamphlet together, put them into the pocket of his overcoat,
and presently went forth.
Twenty minutes' walk brought him to the Warricombes' house. It was
his second call within the present week, but such assiduity had not
hitherto been his wont. Though already summoned twice or thrice by
express invitation, he was sparing of voluntary visits. Having asked
for Mr. Warricombe, he was forthwith conducted to the study. In the
welcome which greeted his appearance, he could detect no suspicion
of simulated warmth, though his ear had unsurpassable
'Have you looked through it?' Martin exclaimed, as he saw the
foreign periodical in his visitor's hand.
'I have written a rough translation'----
'Oh, how could you think of taking such trouble! These things are
sent to me by the dozen--I might say, by the cartload. My
curiosity would have been amply satisfied if you had just told me
the drift of the thing.'
'It seemed to me,' said Peak, modestly, 'that the paper was worth a
little careful thought. I read it rapidly at first, but found myself
drawn to it again. It states the point of view of the average
scientific mind with such remarkable clearness, that I wished to
think it over, and the best way was to do so pen in hand.'
'Well, if you really did it on your own account'----
Mr. Warricombe took the offered sheets and glanced at the first of
'My only purpose,' said Godwin 'in calling again so soon was to
leave this with you.'
He made as though he would take his departure.
'You want to get home again? Wait at least till this shower is over.
I enjoy that pelting of spring rain against the window. In a minute
or two we shall have the laurels flashing in the sunshine, as if
they were hung with diamonds.'
They stood together looking out on to the garden. Presently their
talk returned to the German disquisition, which was directed against
the class of quasi-scientific authors attacked by Peak himself in
his ~Critical~ article. In the end Godwin sat down and began to read
the translation he had made, Mr. Warricombe listening with a
thoughtful smile. From time to time the reader paused and offered a
comment, endeavouring to show that the arguments were merely
plausible; his air was that of placid security, and he seemed to
enjoy the irony which often fell from his lips. Martin frequently
scrutinised him, and always with a look of interest which betokened
'Here,' said Godwin at one point, 'he has a note citing a passage
from Reusch's book on ~The Bible and Nature~. If I am not mistaken,
he misrepresents his author, though perhaps not intentionally.'
'You know the book?'
'I have studied it carefully, but I don't possess it. I thought I
remembered this particular passage very well.'
'Is it a work of authority?'
'Yes; it is very important. Unfortunately, it hasn't yet been
translated. Rather bulky, but I shouldn't mind doing it myself if I
were sure of finding a publisher.'
'~The Bible and Nature~,' said Martin, musingly. 'What is his
scheme? How does he go to work?'
Godwin gave a brief but lucid description of the book, and Mr
Warricombe listened gravely. When there had been silence for some
moments, the latter spoke in a tone he had never yet used when
conversing with Peak. He allowed himself, for the first time, to
betray a troubled doubt on the subject under discussion.
'So he makes a stand at Darwinism as it affects man?'
Peak had yet no means of knowing at what point Martin himself 'made
a stand'. Modes of reconcilement between scientific discovery and
religious tradition are so very numerous, and the geologist was only
now beginning to touch upon these topics with his young
acquaintance. That his mind was not perfectly at ease amid the
conflicts of the day, Godwin soon perceived, and by this time he had
clear assurance that Martin would willingly thrash out the whole
debate with anyone who seemed capable of supporting orthodox tenets
by reasoning not unacceptable to a man of broad views. The
negativist of course assumed from the first that Martin, however
respectable his knowledge, was far from possessing the scientific
mind, and each conversation had supplied him with proofs of this
defect; it was not at all in the modern spirit that the man of
threescore years pursued his geological and kindred researches, but
with the calm curiosity of a liberal intellect which has somehow
taken this direction instead of devoting itself to literary study.
At bottom, Godwin had no little sympathy with Mr. Warricombe; he too,
in spite of his militant instincts, dwelt by preference amid purely
human interests. He grasped with firm intelligence the modes of
thought which distinguish scientific men, but his nature did not
prompt him to a consistent application of them. Personal liking
enabled him to subdue the impulses of disrespect which, under other
circumstances, would have made it difficult for him to act with
perfection his present part. None the less, his task was one of
infinite delicacy. Martin Warricombe was not the man to unbosom
himself on trivial instigation. It must be a powerful influence
which would persuade him to reveal whatever self-questionings lay
beneath his genial good breeding and long-established acquiescence
in a practical philosophy. Godwin guarded himself against his eager
emotions; one false note, one syllable of indiscretion, and his aims
might be hopelessly defeated.
'Yes,' was his reply to the hesitating question. 'He argues
strenuously against the descent of man. If I understand him, he
regards the concession of this point as impossible.'
Martin was deep in thought. He held a paper-knife bent upon his
knee, and his smooth, delicate features wore an unquiet smile.
'Do you know Hebrew, Mr. Peak?'
The question came unexpectedly, and Godwin could not help a
momentary confusion, but he covered it with the tone of
'I am ashamed to say that I am only now taking it up seriously.'
'I don't think you need be ashamed,' said Martin, good-naturedly.
'Even a mind as active as yours must postpone some studies. Reusch,
I suppose, is sound on that head?'
The inquiry struck Godwin as significant. So Mr. Warricombe attached
importance to the verbal interpretation of the Old Testament.
'Distinctly an authority,' he replied. 'He devotes whole chapters to
a minute examination of the text.'
'If you had more leisure,' Martin began, deliberately, when he had
again reflected, 'I should be disposed to urge you to undertake that
Peak appeared to meditate.
'Has the book been used by English writers?' the other inquired.
'A good deal.--It was published in the sixties, but I read it in a
new edition dated a few years ago. Reusch has kept pace with the men
of science. It would be very interesting to compare the first form
of the book with the latest.'
'It would, very.'
Raising his head from the contemplative posture, Godwin exclaimed,
with a laugh of zeal:
'I think I must find time to translate him. At all events, I might
address a proposal to some likely publisher. Yet I don't know how I
should assure him of my competency.'
'Probably a specimen would be the surest testimony.'
'Yes. I might do a few chapters.'
Mr. Warricombe's lapse into silence and brevities intimated to Godwin
that it was time to take leave. He always quitted this room with
reluctance. Its air of luxurious culture affected his senses
deliciously, and he hoped that he might some day be permitted to
linger among the cabinets and the library shelves. There were so
many books he would have liked to take down, some with titles
familiar to him, others which kindled his curiosity when he chanced
to observe them. The library abounded in such works as only a
wealthy man can purchase, and Godwin, who had examined some of them
at the British Museum, was filled with the humaner kind of envy on
seeing them in Mr. Warricombe's possession. Those publications of the
Palaeontological Society, one volume of which (a part of Davidson's
superb work on the ~Brachiopoda~) even now lay open within sight--
his hand trembled with a desire to touch them! And those maps of the
Geological Surveys, British and foreign, how he would have enjoyed a
day's poring over them!
He rose, but Martin seemed in no haste to bring the conversation to
'Have you read M'Naughten's much-discussed book?'
'Did you see the savage attack in ~The Critical~ not long ago?'
Godwin smiled, and made quiet answer:
'I should think it was the last word of scientific bitterness and
'Scientific?' repeated Martin, doubtfully. 'I don't think the writer
was a man of science. I saw it somewhere attributed to Huxley, but
that was preposterous. To begin with, Huxley would have signed his
name; and, again, his English is better. The article seemed to me to
be stamped with literary rancour; it was written by some man who
envies M'Naughten's success.'
Peak kept silence. Martin's censure of the anonymous author's style
stung him to the quick, and he had much ado to command his
'Still,' pursued the other, 'I felt that much of his satire was only
too well pointed. M'Naughten is suggestive; but one comes across
books of the same purpose which can have no result but to injure
their cause with all thinking people.'
'I have seen many such,' remarked Godwin.
Mr. Warricombe stepped to a bookcase and took down a small volume.
'I wonder whether you know this book of Ampare's~, La Grace, Rome,
et Dante~? Delightful for odd moments!--There came into my mind a
passage here at the beginning, apropos of what we were saying: "~Il
faut souvent un vrai courage pour persister dans une opinion juste
en depit de ses defenseurs~."--Isn't that capital?'
Peak received it with genuine appreciation; for once he was able to
laugh unfeignedly. The aphorism had so many applications from his
own point of view.
'Excellent!--I don't remember to have seen the book.'
'Take it, if you care to.'
This offer seemed a distinct advance in Mr. Warricombe's
friendliness. Godwin felt a thrill of encouragement.
'Then you will let me keep this translation for a day or two?'
Martin added, indicating the sheets of manuscript. 'I am greatly
obliged to you for enabling me to read the thing.'
They shook hands. Godwin had entertained a slight hope that he might
be asked to stay to luncheon; but it could not be much past twelve
o'clock, and on the whole there was every reason for feeling
satisfied with the results of his visit. Before long he would