Gideon was feeling annoyed with Clitherton, and annoyed with several others among that week’s contributors, and especially annoyed with Peacock, who permitted and encouraged them. If they went on like this, the Fact would soon be popular; it would find its way into the great soft silly heart of the public and there be damned.
He was a pathetic figure, Arthur Gideon, the intolerant precisian, fighting savagely against the tide of loose thinking that he saw surging in upon him, swamping the world and drowning facts. He did not see himself as a pathetic figure, or as anything else. He did not see himself at all, but worked away at his desk in the foggy room, checking the unconsidered or inaccurate or oversimplified statements of others, writing his own section of the Notes of the Week, with his careful, patient, fined brilliance, stopping to gnaw his pen or his thumb-nail or to draw diagrams, triangle within triangle, or circle intersecting circle, on his blotting paper.
A week later Gideon resigned his assistant editorship of the Fact. Peacock was, on the whole, relieved. Gideon had been getting too difficult of late. After some casting about among eager, outwardly indifferent possible successors, Peacock offered the job to Johnny Potter, who was swimming on the tide of his first novel, which had been what is called ‘well spoken of’ by the press, but who, at the same time, had the popular touch, was quite a competent journalist, was looking out for a job, and was young enough to do what he was told; that is to say, he was four or five years younger than Peacock. He had also a fervent enthusiasm for democratic principles and for Peacock’s prose style (Gideon had been temperate in his admiration of both), and Peacock thought they would get on very well.
Jane was sulky, jealous, and contemptuous.
’Johnny. Why Johnny? He’s not so good as lots of other people who would have liked the job. He’s swanking so already that it makes me tired to be in the room with him, and now he’ll be worse than ever. Oh, Arthur, it is rot, your chucking it. I’ve a jolly good mind not to marry you. I thought I was marrying the assistant editor of an important paper, not just a lazy old Jew without a job.’
She ruffled up his black, untidy hair with her hand as she sat on the arm of his chair; but she was really annoyed with him, as she had explained a week ago when he had told her.
He had walked in one evening and found her in Charles’s bedroom, bathing him. Clare was there too, helping.
‘Why do girls like washing babies?’ Gideon speculated aloud. ’They nearly all do, don’t they?’