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Father Payne eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 341 pages of information about Father Payne.

“Ah,” I said, “but that doesn’t help me.  You may have earned a holiday, but I have never done any real drudgery—­I haven’t earned anything.”

“Be content,” said Father Payne; “take two changes of raiment!  You have got your furrow to plough—­all in good time!  You are working hard now, and don’t let me hear any stuff about being ashamed because you enjoy it!  The reward of labour is life:  to enjoy our work is the secret.  If you could persuade people that the spring of life lies there, you would do more for the happiness of man than by attending fifty thousand committees.  But I won’t talk any more.  I want to consider the lilies of the field, how they grow.  They don’t do it every day!”

LXIV

OF POSE

Someone said rashly, after dinner to-night, that the one detestable and unpardonable thing in a man was pose.  A generalisation of this kind acted on Father Payne very often like a ferret on a rabbit.  He had been mournfully abstracted during dinner, shaking his head slowly, and turning his eyes to heaven when he was asked leading questions.  But now he said:  “I don’t think that is reasonable—­you might as well say that you always disliked length in a book.  A book has got to be some length—­it is as short as it’s long.  Of course, the moment you begin to say, ’How long this book is!’ you mean that it is too long, and excess is a fault.  Do you remember the subject proposed in a school debating society, ’That too much athletics is worthy of our admiration’?  Pose is like that—­when you become conscious of pose it is generally disagreeable—­that is, if it is meant to deceive:  but it is often amusing too, like the pose of the unjust judge in the parable, who prefaces his remarks by saying, ’Though I fear not God, neither regard man.’”

“Oh, but you know what I mean, Father,” said the speaker, “the pose of knowing when you don’t know, and being well-bred when you are snobbish, and being kind when you are mean, and so on.”

“I think you mean humbug rather than pose,” said Father Payne; “but even so, I don’t agree with you.  I have a friend who would be intolerable, but for his pose of being agreeable.  He isn’t agreeable, and he doesn’t feel agreeable; but he behaves as if he was, and it is the only thing that makes him bearable.  What you really mean is the pose of superiority—­the man whose motives are always just ahead of your own, and whose taste is always slightly finer, and who knows the world a little better.  But there is a lot of pose that isn’t that.  What is pose, after all?  Can anyone define it?”

“It’s an artist’s phrase, I think,” said Barthrop; “it means a position in which you look your best.”

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