Skip to main content
Hide Articles List

13 articles on this Page

LIVING OR dead. I

News
Cite
Share

LIVING OR dead. BY HUGH CONWAY. CHAPTER IV. At breakfast next morning I found, in addition to my host and hostess, two eons of the house. They were both grown up men with whiskers and Moustaches. Probably they had not returned home before I went to bed on the night before. It was 4 relief to me to find that they appeared to greet me as if I were an ordinary personage. As both seemed interested in trout-fishing and boating I talked to them without shyness, and felt flattered when, on departing to tbeir offices, the younger promised to take me to the opera in the evening. Mr. Grace, who was probably beginning to take life easily, lingered over the breakfast table. He drew out the letter of the preceding night and re- opened itj. How old are you, Mr. Philip ?" he asked, laying it beside his plate for reference in case of need. u I was fourteen last spring." "Fourteen only! You look older—I thought your father was making a mistake. And so you are to go to Harrow ?" This was news to me—welcome news, I am ashamed to say. I told Mr. Grace so. He referred to the letter. Yes, he says so plainly enough; this term, if it can be managed. I must see what can be done, No doubt it may be difficult to arrange, but we must try." But am I not to go home first ?" Ii I do not read his instructions so Let Philip enjoy himself and see what is fit; then send him to Harrow,' That is how I read it." Then I shall not see him for months. Oh! I must go home first." Mr. Grace looked at me gravely. Your wish is "ery creditable, highly becoming, I may say. But I think, Mr. Philip, you had better follow your father's commands to the letter. Speaking for myself, I should prefer to do 80,as Mr. Norris—as 1 remember him—is a man who, when he says that the recipient of the mandate goeth." I quite agreed with him, and made no further objection. "Your father is a strange man," cpntinued Mr. Grace, stirring the coffee grounds in his cup in a meditative way. A strange man: and in using that expression I wish to imply that I think him an uncommon man. You will find as you grow older that he is different in many ways from most peopl-by most people I mean the generality of mankind. Still, 1 should say from his letter"—un- folding it again and referring for precision's sake— that he was extremely fond of you. So it may be he wishes to save you both the pain of another parting. For the want of a better I accepted this explana- tion, but my eyes were tearful. Now," said Mr. Grace, with bis usual impressive pause at the con- junction, "now—I will desire Twining to attire himself in his best, and accompany you to the objects of interest which you will first of all wish 10 visit, and, of course, inspect. We can spare Twining very well to-day, and he is a respectable tnan, not without education. I would come my- self, hut have appointments I cannot well break Without causing inconvenience—even annoyance "-to others." Then Mr. Grace went about his business, and shortly afterwards Twining appeared and took me Under his wing—a most irreproachable, correctly- Plulnaged wing it was. So well-dressed and re- spectable did he appear that anyone who noticed u mPst have supposed us to be a town-bred uncle knowing a country nephew what was worth seeing London. Twining was polite, but patronising— CIVIl, but condescending. The expression bis face ore of having thoroughly done this long ago somewhat marred my enjoyment until I became Used to it, whilst the lions of London most worthy of inspecting seemed, in his opinion, the Gaiety and Criterion Restaurants, and other promising cubs of the same breed. To the credit of his head and heart I must say that, as far as I was con- cerned, he strongly recommended lemonade or RInger beer as the most refreshing and palatable eve rage regretting that an unfortunate disposi- tlon to flatulence, which he expressed by a inono- syllabic term, prevented him from indulging in a hke exhilarating and harmless draught, and com- pelled him, against his will, to imbibe more nourishing fluids for his stomach's sake. Knowing in theory the action of alcohol on the human frame, and having read a scientific discourse on the various stages of intemperance, I was not sur- pnsed, upon our return to Russell-square to learn that Mr. Twining had found himself so knocked up by his unusual exertions that he felt compelled t retire to bed, and depute his duty of waiting at dinner to a female servant. On the whole, I nded my sight-seeing had better be done with- Out his respectable aid. stoot6 Wa^" and another I managed to see all the sights. Sometimes with Mr. Grace, some- es with Mrs. Grace, sometimes with the good- atured young men, their sons, but oftener by myself. Pleased as I was to have a companion, being alone was such a natural state of things for me that I was happy in my solitary investigations. But the greatest sight of all to me was the people. The wonderful, never-ceasing stream of men and women; each going his own way, each with his own little interests and objects—whatever these may be, or however great, to the so small and petty when compared with the aggregate man. Sometimes I watched the thousands passing me, without a thought 'in common with mine, some- times I felt more lonely than I did on that sea. washed spot that was home to me. My father was indeed wise in sending me to London. Perhaps if I had stayed at home much longer I should have beeome a precocious philosopher, a Juvenile cynic, with the theory that. as the world s composed of units, the happiness of each unit 's all that need be considered, and the prime end of a man should be to study his own well-being, so add an atom to the general comfort. But I ^as a boy yet, and must live in a boy's world before I judged of that peopled by men. Harrow my destination, and Mr. Grace having found some way to compass it, at the end of September I made my first appearance at any school. It was a new life to me—a revelation. I grew younger all the time I was there instead of growing older. New ties, new ambitions, new interests, j Dew '^eas thronged upon me. I had friends comPa.ni°ns. The trouble my father had taken 0 education left me not a whit behind any- 0* own age, as far as learning was con- sphn i knew little or nothing of public coiiM s*JOrt3 when I first went to Harrow, I strencrtKUtrun' outc^mb, or outdo in feats of strong °*. contemporaries. Tall and un til8? ,w!sn'ml)le and fartes, I soon picked blJthe ech.Dlcal knowledge of cricket and foot. once In the" runs" I made my mark at ttv tale* said so as I commenced it, of others hm ^torv-it is the history «p?m™tha L0th,ers wh0*e lives are so bound 1 r hfe seems a part of theirs. So C! tt e-! 'I,r sch°ol life, except that I IOOWPH uT 111 y schoolmates, favourably osed on by my tutors, equal, if not before all of have hi* a"U' indoors and outdoors. All who mean P t0 a Puhlic school will know that this tyn»a happy career. a coimi ^? e*C0ptioa of a few days in London and the wu e, V1sits at a school friend's, I spent Bari-n holidays during the time I was at kno»iW in ~evonshire. How could I do otherwise him ? DH 1 my father wished me to be with in hio w.a? undemonstrative as ever, still deep cornmrieni,tiC and 'iterary pursuits, still holding and™henCa^°nflWitutheWOrld only at intervals, their publico™ K 8cle.nt,fic societies and to the day of mv euw, he looked forward day of my departurl .i!" lon £ ,n £ and t0 the older I felt that thr ^-8°rr0W; and as 1 grew when we should be sen*™? come at la9t periods than now, so I t u °r ? 1<?nger could without grudging ifaV T thS tIU16 1 cheerful now in thf X house Th«?T neighbouring gentry—although' W L tween-were within riding d^L « eyes the fact of my being no w a public schoolbovhl'I themselves was sufficient to atone for all mv shortcomings. I had a horse now, i*, a ride ff ten or twelve miles was nothing to me, when it Save me a day's shooting or some other sport in company with those of my own age. But, for the greater part, I spent the days at home much in the old way, My father and I read together, walked together, and lived much as we had always lived. f boated, bathed, fished, and dreamed away the 'lours as of yore. I think latterly I took to studying my father's character, for as I grew ~er, and was able to contrast him with her men, I could not fail to observe hi Wonder at his peculiarities—his melancholy, Wn interest in the doings of the tim his 8tern 8nd almost repellant manner at hirirf8' k'3 £ reat accomplishments so wasted and en* All these things I now began to realise ♦ Q w°nder at; even beginning to grow anxious beenth'the true hist0IT of his life. Could it have had mad his young wife, my mother, that he neverenTim-s*lun man^nd ? Scarcely so, for or relic her name—or carried memento kindlv ? r6j v world treated him un- not bring myl^ia'!ed ,in ambition ? I could man born to sucp^h f u8°'ueelmg that he was a strife of the worw v Cl to enter infco the speaking, now a et" though, comparatively tor years in this ion?,! man' he had been buried lesolved to end O¿y spot, and, it Reeed, was Each time I returned toT* al°n° and friendless- ^hen I last saw him months older than struck me with renewed^strangeness of his life It was after my first visit r ■ father's house had been filled S| whose cousins, that the peculiaHt J1 U,acleS' a"nt8' 'thout relatives came home to m my bein8 inter; tny father and I were readin ° HevTu8 cutting and glancing at a lafs»«°h^uCri thr 001181 had brought down with me c*"0 u Placed aasidee t^08t contemptuously, -otherse S°ne throuoli fh Td dU? me- When he had 'esitafil L • Plle of volumes> and appeared ftrst in °g whlch of the approved works to attack turned to'hVm13 manner'1 laid down mY book and lever^kn6 Was such a houseful at the .Bennet's I IndeprT>>a .|?w with so many relatives." ^uch intei'pQt8a (< father, without evincing s^y?" But you enjoyed yourself, you lI:a:oUlly I ut I wanted to ask e no relatIons?" None you need trouble yourself about, Philip." Have you no brothers or sisters ?" No like yourself, I am an only son, and any cousins I had have long been lost sight of." But, my mother," I said timidly. Had she no relations ?" He looked at me searchingly, and seemed almost displeased. I felt uncomfortable under his gaze. You need not trouble yourself about your mother's connections, Philip," he said, coldly. They are not mine. I am afraid you must con- tent yourself with what friends you may hereafter make. After all, you will find them less trouble- some than relations." I was bound to conclude from his words that my mother's station in life had been different to his own; but I longed to know something about her. "It seems so strange to have no one in the world except you," I said. Tell me about my mother; tell me all about her." What shall I tell you about her ?" he said, in a constrained voice. All about her; all you can. Was she like me ?" No, Philip; fortunately for you, you are my counterpart." "Was she pretty ? Did she love me? Where did she die ?" I asked, growing bolder as I talked. She was very beautiful. She loved you dearly. She died far away in the North of England, when you were three years old." And you loved her, and grieved at her death ?" I asked, feeling quite uneasy at the categorical answers he gave to my questions. "By God I Yes, I loved her!" he exclaimed, with a fierceness of expression I had never seen him display before. I loved her and grieved for her, as you say." Then you came here to live, I suppose ?" Then I came here to live. Now you know all." But I was not satisfied. I waited a while, and then asked—" Have you no likeness of her ?" "None that I care to show you, Philip," he answered, speaking in his usual quiet manner. I knew from past experience it was no use to press any request, so took up my book again, and, under pretence of reading, sat musing and think- ing sad thoughts. It seemed so hard to be unable to learn anything of one's own mother, dead so many years, and dying so young. I guessed from the short but violent display of emotion my father had shown, that his disinclination to speak of her was from a wish to let old sorrows sleep-old annoyances perhaps. He may have been ashamed of his wife, but I, her son, would have held her memory dear, no matter what her station in life might have been originally. I returned to the sub- ject no more, but resolved, when I was a man, to ask my father for full information. I felt I had a right to expect it. Terms and vacations slipped by, until I was of an age to leave school. My mates were talking of the Universities, and of their future plans in life, and I felt that it was time I settled how I should bestow myself. Before I ventured to Harrow for my last term, I spoke to my father on the subject of my future career. "Yes," he said, as though it mattered little, after all," 1 think you had better adopt some pro- fession. I suppose you intend to go to college ?" he asked, as though the decision entirely rested with me. I used to dream of the navy-then the army," I replied, but now 1 have ceased to care about either. I think I had better go to Oxford." By all means-and then ?" You have nothing to suggest, sir?" I asked. No you must choose for yourself." Then, I think, the Bar." So be it-if you are ambitious, there is room to gratify your ambition-I think you have gifts that will help you in that profession. You are in earnest, your presence and your voice are good, and you can reason logically and soundly-yes, the Bar will do very well." To Oxford I went. My life there needs no de- scription. I worked hard and rewarded my exertions—I made many friends, and grew very y wise in the world, according to my own estimate. Then I prepared to go to work and make fame and fortune. Like all right-minded young men, the thought of living an idle life had never entered my head. I had no idea what my father's means were. As far as I knew, he owned no lands, houses, or property that one could point at and say, This is Norris's." He could scarcely be poor, as my college allowance was a handsome one, and although I was not encouraged in extravagance. and our living at Torwood was so simple, nothing seemed to be denied on the score of expense. Yet I had never looked upon my father as a rich man, and felt that it was my lot to work for my living. I spent a few months on the Continent, seeing the places I most wished to see, then I returned to Devonshire, and, after a fortnight's rest and quiet, started for London, eager to commence work. Mr. Grace, whose advice I had sought as to the best way of proceeding, appeared quite amused when he heard I was to practice at the Bar. An uphill career, Mr. Philip," he said, and by an uphill career I mean an arduous ascent. If there are more briefs than formerly, there are more to divide them among. But you must take your chance with the rest." By his good offices I was installed at the feet of an eminent legal Gamaliel, to acquire some smattering of my future profession, by the time I had eaten the dinners needful to admit my wear- ing the wig and gown. I made one more effort to induce my father to quit his seclusion and accompany me to town. I could reason and argue with him now-I was a man, or nearly one. But it availed nothing. His refusal was decisive. You had better take chambers somewhere," he said, "and furnish them after your own taste. Join a respectable club. Grace will see to all that." Chambers will be very expensive," I said, doubtfully, not quite reconciling such possessions with my position. "Mr. Grace will honour your drafts to any reasonable amount. If you overstep the mark he will pull you up. Can you afford it, father?" A smile crossed his face. Yes, I can well afford it, Philip. I have been saving money for years, so you need not be afraid. And I have no one else but you, my boy." So to town I went.

CHAPTER V.

AUNT PARKER.

CHAPTER XIX.

CHAPTER XX.

FEMIXINE FANCIES, FOIBLES,…

THE CARDIFF PANTOMIME.

POOLED MYRIORAMA AT CARDIFF.

LIFEBOAT SERVICES IX 1885.

Advertising

Y R A LeE S TIS. j.

jOT FOR JOE.

[No title]