Father Payne eBook

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

“Not your friends,” said Father Payne.  “Pity is fatal to friendship.  There is always something complacent in pity—­it means conscious strength.  You can’t both pity and admire.  You can’t separate people up into qualities—­they all come out of the depth of a man; I am quite sure of this, that the moment you begin to differentiate a friend’s qualities, that moment what I call friendship is over.  It must simply be a case of you and me—­not my weakness and your virtue, and still less your weakness and my virtue.  And you must be content to lose friends and to be discarded by friends.  What is sentimental is to believe that it can be otherwise.”

XIX

OF PHYLLIS

It was in the course of July, the month given to hospitality.  Father Payne used to have guests of various kinds, quite unaccountable people, some of them, with whom he seemed to be on the easiest of terms, but whom he never mentioned at any other time.  “It is a time when I have old friends to stay with me,” he once said, “and I decline to define the term.  There are reasons—­you must assume that there are reasons—­which may not be apparent, for the tie.  They are not all selected for intellectual or artistic brilliance—­they are the symbols of undesigned friendships, which existed before I exercised the faculty of choice.  They are there, uncriticised, unexplained, these friends of mine.  The modest man, you will remember, finds his circle ready-made.  I am attached to them, and they to me.  They understand no language, some of them, as you will see, except the language of the heart; but you will help me, I know, to make them feel at home and happy.”

They certainly were odd people, several of them—­dumb, good-natured, elderly men with no ostensible purpose in the world; elderly ladies, who called Father Payne “dear”; some simple and homely married couples, who seemed to be living in another century.  But Father Payne welcomed them, chattered with them, jested with them, took them drives and walks, and seemed well-contented with their company, though I confess that I generally felt as though I were staying in a seaside boarding-house on such occasions.  We used to speculate as to who they were, and how Father Payne had made their acquaintance:  we gathered that they were mostly the friends and acquaintances of his youth, or people into whose company he had drifted when he lived in London.  Sometimes, before a new arrival, he would touch off his or her character and circumstances in a few words.  On one occasion he said after breakfast to Barthrop and me:  “Arrivals to-day, Mr. and Mrs. Wetherall—­the man a retired coal-merchant, rather wealthy, interested in foreign missions; the woman inert; daughter prevented from coming, and they bring a niece, Phyllis by name, understood to be charming.  I undertake the sole charge of Wetherall himself, Mrs. Wetherall requires no specific attentions—­placid woman, writes innumerable letters—­Miss Phyllis an unknown quantity.”

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Father Payne from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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