Denry himself felt this. He did not consider himself clever or brilliant. But he considered himself peculiarly gifted. He considered himself different from other men. His thoughts would run:
“Anybody but me would have knuckled down to Duncalf and remained a shorthand clerk for ever.”
“Who but me would have had the idea of going to the ball and asking the Countess to dance?... And then that business with the fan!”
“Who but me would have had the idea of taking his rent-collecting off Duncalf?”
“Who but me would have had the idea of combining these loans with the rent-collecting? It’s simple enough! It’s just what they want! And yet nobody ever thought of it till I thought of it!”
And he knew of a surety that he was that most admired type in the bustling, industrial provinces—a card.
The desire to become a member of the Sports Club revived in his breast. And yet, celebrity though he was, rising though he was, he secretly regarded the Sports Club at Hillport as being really a bit above him. The Sports Club was the latest and greatest phenomenon of social life in Bursley, and it was emphatically the club to which it behoved the golden youth of the town to belong. To Denry’s generation the Conservative Club and the Liberal Club did not seem like real clubs; they were machinery for politics, and membership carried nearly no distinction with it. But the Sports Club had been founded by the most dashing young men of Hillport, which is the most aristocratic suburb of Bursley and set on a lofty eminence. The sons of the wealthiest earthenware manufacturers made a point of belonging to it, and, after a period of disdain, their fathers also made a point of belonging to it. It was housed in an old mansion, with extensive grounds and a pond and tennis courts; it had a working agreement with the Golf Club and with the Hillport Cricket Club. But chiefly it was a social affair. The correctest thing was to be seen there at nights, rather late than early; and an exact knowledge of card games and billiards was worth more in it than prowess on the field.