“But isn’t your whole idea of talk rather strenuous—a little artificial?” said Vincent.
“Not more so than fixed meals,” said Father Payne, “or regular exercise. But, of course silent companionship is the greatest boon of all. I have a belief that even in silent companionship there is a real intermingling of vital and mental currents, and that one is much pervaded and affected by the people one lives with, even if one does not talk to them. The very sight of some people is as bad as an argument! The ideal thing, of course, is to have a few intimate friends and some comfortable acquaintances. But I am rather a fatalist about friendship, and I think that most of us get about as much as we deserve. Anyhow, it’s all worth taking some trouble about; and most people make the mistake of not taking any trouble or putting themselves about; and that’s not the way to behave!”
I suppose I had said something high-minded, showing a supposed contempt of money, for Father Payne looked at me in silence.
“You mustn’t say such things,” said he, at last. “I’ll tell you why! What you said was perfectly genuine, and I have no doubt you feel it—but, if I may say so, it’s like talking about a place where you have never been, as if you had visited it, when you have only read about it in the guide-book. I don’t mean that you wish to deceive for an instant—but you simply don’t know! That’s the tragic thing about money—that it is both so important and so unimportant. If you have enough money, you need never give it a thought; if you haven’t, it’s the devil! It’s like health—no one who hasn’t been on the wrong side of the dividing line knows what a horrible place the wrong side is. Those two things—I daresay there are others—poverty