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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
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,
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 withago.
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 fiancé 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, “or a knew it, and would unbend to him woman, I should know all about if to anyone.
“ If there's a 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 was 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 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 may have sworn to myself brows.
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,'
snout, if you like ; 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 After all, the began pacing the room.
“ The 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
“Oh, but I do!" interrupted asks me, that it is to this, the Ichabod with rising energy. “Here Adoration of Sentiment, that I for as everywhere. We Englishmen one am going to declare war-war boast of our cool heads, and call to the knife.' ourselves rational people, but with “War to the nib, do you mean?” no more right to the name than the asked Hammond, laughing. Не devoutest old Greeks or most be. had a dim recollection of having sotted Catholic peasants."
read something like this before in “What next?” said Hammond. some book or magazine, and began “Perhaps we build temples, then, to have an idea of where his friend and offer lambs and incense to was taking him to, but he resoApollo or Aphrodite or Hebe or lutely declined to accompany him. Pan? Go on.”
Paradoxy was certainly not his “Not by those names,” Ichabod doxy. Startling opinions were all replied. “What I say is that fineart, very amusing things to talk about, and love, and youth, and beauty, but it was awful when a man began and nature, are practically wor- to act up to them.
“So you've shipped all the world over, and quarrelled with the world and sacrificed to with a veneration I call challenged it, and do you want to superstitious. We pity the be- fight it now-one against all? I nighted ignorance of people who call it a risky, thankless task, a little bow down to the Madonna and game where nobody wins—so it saints; but to living and fictitious won't pay, Ichabod, my
word ideals of purity, piety, self-devo- for it." tion, and other so-called graces, we Well, what of that?” said pay a credulous admiration that Ichabod. “I take it gain and loss would be ludicrous merely, if it are mostly fictions of our imagiwasn't such a lamentable exhibition nations; but I'm sick of pretending of human folly."
to join in this paper-chase they “ This is news,” said Hammond, call life. That ordinary men as Ichabod paused for breath, "at will hear for my speaking, see least to me, and from
for my showing, or follow for (“When I go and report this at the my leading, might be too much to club,” he added to himself, " they expect, slaves as they are to prewon't believe me !") “And since judice and ignorance.' when, pray, have you fallen out “In the name of all ordinary with our social system ? "
men," put in Hammond pertly, “I “I don't know that we ever were friends. If up to now I took care “Can you here, between ournot to speak my mind to people who selves, honestly deny a word I have couldn't understand it, I had a good said ? " reason.
a novice, and “Oh, I deny it all," said HamI should simply have been pooh- mond resolutely, adding, sotto voce, poohed as such ; but now that I've “and I'll venture to say I never given your society a trial I know heard such mad nonsense in all your Belgravia and your Bohemia from the bubbles on the surface to “The proofs stare you everywhere the dregs below, and I assure you in the face," continued Ichabod conthat, if the world has power to vincingly. “Take an illustration, move me at all, it is to exasperate --this Johannisberger before us me by its inconsistencies. It is now. There's a type of the world!" high time to throw off the mask, Amen,” sighed Hammond and I will tell you, and anyone that piously, emptying his glass.
“Do you know of what it is headed mortal of my acquaintance!” made? Grapes-yes, but which ? was Ichabod's comment. “One dose Those that are rotten and decayed, of my views has been enough to something it would revolt you even to touch. That's the secret substance Dick Hammond re-appeared that of our Imperial wine we prize so night at the club with a seriohighly. A good emblem of the comic expression that excited facesecret history of the gods of our tious remark. idolatry, whatever they seem. A “It's no laughing matter," said little sharp inquiry and analysis he, shaking his head. “Poor Ichawould show us the substance as it bod, he's quite gone, you know.” is-corrupt, corrupt, a thing we “Dead, do you mean ?” should turn away from in contempt
“ Worse - deranged," tapping and disgust. Perhaps you can his forehead. understand now how it irritates me Chorus of questions and comto see the delusions under which ments: “Is it in the family ?” men and women live and labour, “Not that I know of.” “Opium delusions too many for the most or absinthe?” “Neither.” · Disenergetic reformer to take and appointed in love ?” “Oh, not break, one by one. But it strikes that,” returned Hammond, with a me that, if men could once be taught laugh, “but it strikes me he's how to test their infatuations, and been reading too many magazines.” make a habit of it, we should soon And he proceeded to give a have seen the last of these chimeras, humorous account of their interfor under that magic touch all the view, a little embellished of course, most enchanting pictures of fancy, which afforded considerable amusehope, and memory would ment to his hearers. solve themselves into what they “What is he going to do next?”. are, dust and ashes. And the asked one. best, the only means I see to this “That's more than I'll venture end would be the extinction of, or to foretel,” said Hammond; rather reducing to a minimum, the as I take it, he's a sort of Don emotional element in human Quixote turned the wrong way; nature. Here is a cause that seems off on a general crusade against all to me not unworthy of a rational the consolations of life ; where he's being ; I mean to engage in it perfectly certain to get his head actively myself; and all thinking punched-I can say no more.” men who have courage should It was altogether a bad look-out second Join with
for Ichabod. But Hammond had Hammond, so far as to admit" won his dozen of champagne.
Ichabod stopped short; for Hammond, whose silence had here not
CHAPTER III. meant assent, but rather a polite negative, stood before him holding “ READING too many magazines,” out his hand, saying,
that might be true, but never the “Not to night, thanks; I've an whole truth. The clue to this was appointment at the club, and must to be found in the man's strange leave you. Good night."
character alone, which had by this “I've no taste for sermons," he time become pretty independent of thought,
as he went downstairs, outward circumstances. "and I think my poor friend's Every man, as we know, has three mind is wandering
distinct selves-physical, moral, and "There goes the most feather- intellectual. The absolute perfec
tion of a hero must be the perfec- hood, and of which he retained a tion and harmony of these three in strong impression as a nest of
ideas as antiquated as its cathedral. Our hero's physique left little to For cathedrals, church music, picbe desired. Nature and his parents tures-everything that linked reliand guardians had taken care of gion and art he entertained a that, and here he had consented to direct hostility. Controversies let well alone. Of brains, again, about creeds and dogmas were he had no lack. But, with sin- tolerable-might possibly be of use gular pertinacity, he had all his as a good intellectual gymnastic life been working steadily with all exercise; but the sentiment of dethe force of intellect and will to votion and celestial flights of fancy suppress his feelings, and already in his judgment nothing so far succeeded as to disturb the more tban the root of evils inbalance of his composition, and numerable, incalculable. bring about a state so apparently
He had not been near the old awry that most people, looking place for ten years; and welcomed into his mind, would have agreed a slight formal errand of business with Hammond that much reading, that just at this time chanced to much learning, much something, take him down there for a day or had made him mad.
two. Not for love of auld lang Mad or sane, he was not content syne, but because the visit might with having tried the experiment afford him special opportunities for on himself, but desired to extend studying the growths he desired it to his fellow-men. Everybody to eradicate. has a mission in this world; and So he mused as he took his seat the only one that tempted him was in a first-class carriage of the that of a spiritual iconoclast. express to Bury St. Martin's one
He was unaffected by ridicule, afternoon. There was certainly which was all his first confession nothing about the outer man that of faith had elicited from his first denoted the missionary ; and the listener. To have effected off-hand idea that they were travelling with the conversion of a man of Ham- an adventurer of reform was promond's stamp would have been to bably the last that would have start by working a miracle; and suggested itself to his fellowmiracles did not enter into travellers. Ichabod's scheme. His future These were a young man and course of action he was as yet con- two ladies, brother and sisters tent to leave indefinite-to be dic- apparently. There was an indetated by circumstances. Heartily finable look of distinction about he wished all the idols of the world the trio, and, as their conversation ---religious, political, social, ar- did not run entirely upon the tistic-had but one neck, that he weather and partridge shooting, might break it. Failing this, he Icbabod condescended to listen would take them in order of im- to it. Nay, several times he portance, beginning, therefore, with felt tempted to join in, in order to the first-named.
contradict, and to prove to them London offered little scope for how utterly wrong some of the such a campaign. People there opinions they expressed were ; but were too busy with a thousand the noisy rattle of the train forother matters. But there was bade conversation except between Bury St. Martin's, an old cathedral people who agreed with each town, the home of Ichabod's child. other.