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grown people tolerating and even straight to her husband and told delighting in childish fables about him that John's precocity was gods and goddesses, and the impos- becoming so alarming that he must sible adventures of Trojans and go to a public school at once. Greeks, while the exploits of Jack Public schools are known as the the Giant Killer and Bluebeard certain grave for all the most inwere very properly left to the nur- sufferable eccentricities of young sery. It was hopeless to try and genius. Master Ichabod's must please him in story books. The their
way like all others. Arabian Nights he threw down and Merged in a crowd of five hundred stamped upon in a passion of tears ordinaries, he fell in pretty readily and disgust and indignation, after with their manners and customs, five minutes perusal. Andersen's to the unspeakable relief of his fairy tales fared no better.
parents both. turned them to his mother, as good But his oddities were only buried, for an infant school perhaps, but not dead, as it needed but to watch not for a boy of his years. In all him closely to discover.
He was his lessons, with a growing aptitude lucky in his tutor, a man of genial for learning, he showed a growing intelligence, who from the first had indifference to its aims and ends. taken a curious interest in the boy,
Neither was he fond of games. and built great hopes on a lad who Exercise, which he could prove by learnt so quickly and conducted experiment to be necessary for himself so irreproachably. There health and appetite, he consented were drawbacks, though, and drawto take, but for cricket, football, backs undreamt of in the philoand all who could be keen upon sophy of his experience. Who ever such sham fights, he had nothing knew a clever fellow keep so probut ridicule. How could his vokingly aloof from any kind of father wish any reasonable child to competition ? He was always up fritter away his time and pocket- to the mark in the examinations, money, or expose
his person, for the but never entered the lists for a sake of such brief and hollow joys prize if he could help it, or showed as were all these boyish victories one spark of ardour on such occacould afford?
sions. It was all a riddle to his He was tall and strong himself, tutor, who often bantered him about and one day his mother, admiring this want of emulation, but always and exulting in his sturdy health, got the worst of the argument. happened to remark that he had Either,” said the pupil,“ learning been the most feeble and delicate was useful or it wasn't.
If it of babies, and reared only by un- wasn't, why work one's head off for remitting care and pains. The boy the sake of a trumpery medal or listened thoughtfully, sympathetic book? If it was, well, use was cally,—but suddenly startled her by better than the honour and glory of replying that for her it was a mis- victory any day; so to put these fortune not to have lived in ancient forward as a motive at all was just times, or other countries, when and to carry coals to Newcastle.” where he would have been exposed He must infallibly have been to perish in infancy, as a matter of squashed as a prig by his schoolcourse, and she have been saved fellows, but he took care to keep the bother and responsibility of his ideas to himself, never spoke rearing him at all.
out his mind unless pressed to do Upon this Mrs. Ichabod, so, and was quite content, so far, thoroughly frightened, rose, went with acting up to it.
He was in his seventeenth year The gist of it was plain enough, at when his mother died, rather sud- all events : “Send your boy away denv. He had been much attached to travel-across the Atlantic if you to her, yet, after the first shock, he can—the farther the better. Give did not give way so far as to betray him a change that must shake his any agitation. But still waters whole being He is young, and run deep, and his tutor suspected there may still be time.” that so undemonstrative an exterior Mr. Ichabod, senior, thought he must hide feelings of dangerous in- must be dreaming. But no; there tensity. Finding him one day were the words. He read on: brooding, he feared, over his grief, "My reason for this advice is he laid his hand on his shoulder, not so easy to put into words. My asking kindly, “What are
“What are you feeling is that he is in a dangerous thinking of, Ichabod ? ” and with
way. I seem to perceive a morbid sympathy and consolation on the taint in his mind that he delights tip of his tongue. Master Ichabod, to honour and foster as much as he who always spoke the truth, , I may call it a depreciative replied, “I was thinking of what I mania. He is always inventing a heard yesterday, that my mother's fly in his honey, a flaw in his fortune will be mine now when I precious stone. Such a theory of come of age; and I believe it is a Tife it is becoming common to hear great thing not to be dependent, or preached; but I never before saw tied down to anybody in the anyone carry it out thus in practice, world."
inexorably, like your son. He is The tutor was an impulsive man, a boy now, so this can only show and the hardness of the speech itself in trifles; but if in after life startled him and made him shrink. he applies his principle to vitalities, Nor could the pupil bring him to and follows it out as consistently see the matter in another light; not as now, I would rather not say to by the most sincere assurances that what I think it may, or must, lead.” he meant to use the money well,
Here Mr. Ichabod's surprise, and for the good of the human which amounted to stupor, exrace, which his mother, with her ploded in a hearty laugh. “I see fanciful tastes and thoughtless it all now," he said ; “
my boy's charities, had never done.
precocity has frightened his tutor, As he grew older he began to as when he was a child once it exercise a curious influence over frightened me. I must reassure some of his schoolfellows. Little the man.” He took up his pen and did he seem to care for their regard, wrote back at once : and still less for their affection ; but “I thank you for your advice, his indifference had only the effect which I take as kindly as it was of attracting both. Before he meant. But with regard to my left he found himself a kind of son's peculiarities, you must repope over a small set, who looked member that we live in a sceptical up to him as to the ne plus ultra of age, and our children must breathe boyish infallibility. At eighteen he its air. What can be the terrible came home, bearing as first-rate a consequences that threaten in this character, both in and out of school, instance I cannot imagine. Had as fond father's heart could de- they shown themselves in any sire.
vicious tendencies in the boy we The next day brought the father should have a right to be uneasy a cold shower-bath in the form of a about him. But what is poison to letter of advice from his son's tutor. certain characters may be meat to
steady and harmless natures like society, matrimony, and the everhis. You say he has talents and lasting happiness that is under. application besides, so I trust con- stood to ensue. fidently to him to make you smile But the young man's entry into some day over your gloomy fore- this land of promise, the father, for bodings.
one, was never to witness, dying They
soon forgotten. shortly before his son's college Young Ichabod passed on to the career was concluded. University, and went through his course with credit, if not distinc
CHAPTER II. tion. There, as at school, he attracted round him a circle of ICHABOD
six-and-twenty, staunch friends. They were mostly clever, well spoken of, well conhis intellectual inferiors and his nected, and well off. Old people, opposites - young fellows who, poor people, obscure people, all seeing in him one unlike them- envied and talked of him as selves, “ not passion's slave," made
Bigwigs praised, thought highly of him on that
daughters account. He did not return the beamed upon this heir-presumptive compliment, and no wonder. How, of—what, was still an open quesin his heart of hearts, he despised sion, but a brilliant future of some their small talk, their little am- kind for him they agreed to take bitions, their little fads, their little for granted. loves and hates ! But then they From his successful college would listen and look up to him, career he had passed on to the and Ichabod liked to receive, study of the law. When called to though he hated to render, homage. the bar he established himself in
One virtue he had : a rare inde- chambers in London, and became a pendence of character which might subject of conjecture, even of an fairly claim respect. It was not so airy bet or two among his own set much this, however, as
at the Junior Highflyers' Club. reasonable attraction-the attrac- What was the special course his tion of strangeness—that
drew legal energies were going to take ? most of them to his side.
" He will get into Parliament, “A capital fellow," said his said one; a junior of juniors, he. friends, when defending
“ Write for the papers, you “ neither by force nor by flattery mean," suggested a “highflyer" of could you make him move a few years' experience. inch out of his way." His enemies “ Or for the stage, who knows ? " complained that he was equally said an amateur dramatist. deaf to all the generous emotions. “ Marry and settle down,” said But in what, after all, do the a member who was himself en. "generous emotions” at the Uni. gaged. versity for the most part evince Some years passed, which Ichathemselves? Fattening the trades- bod spent in fulfilling all reasonmen, fleecing your family, calf-love, able expectations entertained of and idleness. “ No great loss him. either,” thought his parent, natu- He read, he wrote, he travelled, rally. “ If his habit of mind is still he talked, he fraternised with men over-serious for his age, that will and flirted with women. Of the soon brush off when once he gets whole duty of the man about town into practical life.”
he left nothing out.
But his serMeaning some active profession, vice was only skin deep. For he
never really dived into a single The first step was to invite himstream of business or of pleasure, or self to wine at Ichabod's chambers. got beyond tasting and skimming That, for Hammond, was easy, and the surface of each, before he thither, on the evening he had turned away to another, as if chosen, he betook himself, confident trying them one by one, and find- of success.
Ichabod, he could ing them all wanting. After an
feel, was not over-pleased to see apprenticeship of several seasons, him ; but then Hammond's object there came a change so great and in coming was not to be welcome. so unexpected as to amaze his “ How shall I draw him out?” was friends, who could make nothing the question occupying him toof it. Reserved and impassive he night. had always been—that was his The two men, as they sat there way; but now he had suddenly opposite each other, in spite of given up any show of interest in the varnish of polite society which the world (which was a bad sign overlaid them both, were as difenough), and in its wife too (which
wax from steel, flame was worse), turned silent and from frost. Hammond, tall, slim, morose,
and shut himself up, flexible, slippery—the light comeliterally and figuratively, like any dian of the stage of life, a man who misanthrope or old monk of ages adapted himself to everything with. ago.
out an effort and found his own level Their surprise and disapproval everywhere directly. Launched in found vent in fresh conjectures the solar system of London society, and fresh bets at the Junior High- he desired nothing better than to flyers.
play his part as sun, or star, or “He has been to a revival meet- satellite, at clubs, balls, dinners, ing,” said one.
operas, and for as many seasons as “Joined the International," said a man generally cares to look forthe youngest member.
ward to. “Or been speculating," said the And Ichabod. practical man.
Asleep or dead, he might have “ Engaged," said the fiance of been pronounced good looking. two years back, now a family man The features were excellent, but it himself, and the soul of the ex- was a face of which the spirit, so to bachelor exulted.
speak, seemed perpetually protestBut how were they to find out,- ing against the flesh. And that how to confess a man who, though spirit was certainly one that might on familiar terms with all of them, harden the finest mould, grizzle a was not intimate with one ? Dick
young man's hair, and dull the Hammond, formerly his fellow- liveliest eye. The expression never collegian, a gentleman of a bold relaxed nor changed. The face spirit and insinuating manners, and was a monochord, and Hammond perhaps the most inquisitive of the hunted in vain to make out the set, laid a wager that he would right note. clear up the mystery. He had a “If only I were an American great opinion of Ichabod, who interviewer," thought he, “ora knew it, and would unbend to him woman, I should know all about if to anyone.
“ If there's it in half-an-hour.” But he had skeleton," said Hammond,“ ten to neither the effrontery of the first one that I'll find the key of the nor the tact of the second. He cupboard, and come back and tell beat about the bush to no purpose you what's inside."
till he began to fear he should
lose his wager. He looked up and “Yes, and what a nice view !" down the room for hints and in- broke in Ichabod, laughing. “Respiration, but got no further than member whom you're quoting. the certainty that all the club Robinson Crusoe to his desert guesses had been wrong. Those island. Capital ! Free to choose chambers looked just as usual, and between the hurricane on the sea how luxurious, how superlative and the cannibals on land-the ,
— that was! The easy chairs, prints, sterile sands and the pestilential books, and especially the bindings, marsh—the lucky fellow, eh ?” made Hammond's mouth water. "Don't," muttered Hammond, For even he not perfectly involuntarily, half start!ed by the happy. As he jestingly expressed vehement irony of his friend's tone. it, he had “a soul above his in- Hammond,” resumed Ichabod, come.” There was so much that “I sometimes wonder what you seemed to him worth buying, one's think, if ever men like you do banking account permitting, in think at all, which is questionable, Vanity Fair.
about the planet we live in. That You are the luckiest fellow," it's a very good sort of world on he exclaimed mournfully-for the the whole, as worlds go, I supmoment his errand was forgotten
pose, and so on.” " and I don't think you're half as “He's coming out,” thought thankful as s you ought to be for your Hammond, cheerfully,
, . "No," he advantages.
replied aloud reflectively, “that's “My what ?” asked Ichabod, not my idea. A dozen times incredulously, raising his eye- I
have sworn to myself
that it is a sad sight, a sink of "Oh, don't be modest, or pre- iniquity, a place of torment, et tend to run them down. Every- cetera ; and so it is, but with comthing that fellows like myself pensations, you know, that make haven't got, and covet-good looks, up for anything. Call it a swine's talent, interest, means," with
there are jewels stress upon means.
of gold that seem like the raw mate“Oh, bah,” said Ichabod im- rial of a heaven.” patiently, “ you may skip the rest Ichabod got up impatiently, and of the catalogue. After all, the began pacing the room. first painter you pick up will com- old, old story," he exclaimed, "that pose you a better face than mine has been dinned into men's ears out of sulpbate of mercury and wherever there were priests or chromate of lead. And as for poets or philanthropists, and fools what
you are pleased to call talents to listen to them ; and so it goes and means, believe me they are as on to this day! My only wish, if hollow, doubtful blessings as any
I had a wish, would be to see life on the list.”
started afresh on a rational basis, “He has been to a revival meet. and idolatry and superstition ing, by Jove !" thought Hammond abolished.” aghast, “but I think I'm on the “Idolatry, superstition-what on scent, and will follow it up. Non- earth are you talking about?” sense," he replied aloud. “Couldn't asked Hammond, in frank amazedesire a better position than yours.
ment. “ Where the deuce do you young man of mark, with no- find them ? Not here in London, thing to hamper him, and all the at the West-end, in this year of world opening before him where to grace eighteen hundred and