Back to Methuselah eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 408 pages of information about Back to Methuselah.

The study windows, which have broad comfortable window seats, overlook Hampstead Heath towards London.  Consequently, it being a fine afternoon in spring, the room is sunny.  As you face these windows, you have on your right the fireplace, with a few logs smouldering in it, and a couple of comfortable library chairs on the hearthrug; beyond it and beside it the door; before you the writing-table, at which the clerical gentleman sits a little to your left facing the door with his right profile presented to you; on your left a settee; and on your right a couple of Chippendale chairs.  There is also an upholstered square stool in the middle of the room, against the writing-table.  The walls are covered with bookshelves above and lockers beneath.

The door opens; and another gentleman, shorter than the clerical one, within a year or two of the same age, dressed in a well-worn tweed lounge suit, with a short beard and much less style in his bearing and carriage, looks in._

THE CLERICAL GENTLEMAN [familiar and by no means cordial] Hallo!  I didn’t expect you until the five o’clock train.

THE TWEEDED GENTLEMAN [coming in very slowly] I have something on my mind.  I thought I’d come early.

THE CLERICAL GENTLEMAN [throwing down his pen] What is on your mind?

THE TWEEDED GENTLEMAN [sitting down on the stool, heavily preoccupied with his thought] I have made up my mind at last about the time.  I make it three hundred years.

THE CLERICAL GENTLEMAN [sitting up energetically] Now that is extraordinary.  Most extraordinary.  The very last words I wrote when you interrupted me were ‘at least three centuries.’ [He snatches up his manuscript, and points to it].  Here it is:  [reading] ’the term of human life must be extended to at least three centuries.’

THE TWEEDED GENTLEMAN.  How did you arrive at it?

A parlor maid opens the door, ushering in a young clergyman.

THE PARLOR MAID.  Mr Haslam. [She withdraws].

The visitor is so very unwelcome that his host forgets to rise; and the two brothers stare at the intruder, quite unable to conceal their dismay.  Haslam, who has nothing clerical about him except his collar, and wears a snuff-colored suit, smiles with a frank school-boyishness that makes it impossible to be unkind to him, and explodes into obviously unpremeditated speech.

HASLAM.  I’m afraid I’m an awful nuisance.  I’m the rector; and I suppose one ought to call on people.

THE TWEEDED GENTLEMAN [in ghostly tones] We’re not Church people, you know.

HASLAM.  Oh, I don’t mind that, if you don’t.  The Church people here are mostly as dull as ditch-water.  I have heard such a lot about you; and there are so jolly few people to talk to.  I thought you perhaps wouldn’t mind. Do you mind? for of course I’ll go like a shot if I’m in the way.

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Back to Methuselah from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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