Father Payne eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 341 pages of information about Father Payne.
But a man with whom you can only talk hard isn’t a companion—­he’s an adversary in a game.  There have been times in my life when I have had a real tough talker staying here with me, when I have suffered from crushing intellectual fatigue, and felt inclined to say, like Elijah, ’Take away my life, for I am not better than my fathers.’  That is the strange thing to me about most human beings—­the extent to which they seem able to talk without being tired.  I agree with Walter Scott, when he said, ’If the question was eternal company without the power of retiring within myself, or solitary confinement for life, I should say, “Turnkey, lock the cell!"’ Companionship doesn’t seem to me the normal thing.  Solitude is the normal thing, with a few bits of talk thrown in, like meals, for refreshment.  But you can’t lay down rules for people about it.  Some people are simply gregarious, and twitter together like starlings in a shrubbery:  that isn’t talk—­it’s only a series of signals and exclamations.  The danger of solitude is that the machinery runs just as you wish it to run—­and that wears it out.”

“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!”

LIII

OF MONEY

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

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Project Gutenberg
Father Payne from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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