Henry Trelane said afterwards, “Why, Livingstone, you have told me of your home and your horses, but never told me of your father and mother. Do you know that they are the best in the world?” Somehow, it had seemed to open his eyes, and the manner in which his friends had hung on his father’s words had increased his own respect for him. One of them had said, “Livingstone, I like you, but I love your father.” The phrase, he remembered, had not altogether pleased him, and yet it had not altogether displeased him either. But Henry Trelane was very near to him in those days. Not only was he the soul of honor and high-mindedness, with a mind that reflected truth as an unruffled lake reflects the sky, but he was the brother of Catherine Trelane, who then stood to Livingstone for Truth itself.
It was during a Christmas-holiday visit to her brother that Livingstone had first met Catherine Trelane; as he now saw himself meet her. He had come on her suddenly in a long avenue. Her arms were full of holly-boughs; her face was rosy from a victorious tramp through the snow, rosier at the hoped-for, unexpected, chance meeting with her brother’s guest; a sprig of mistletoe was stuck daringly in her hood, guarded by her mischievous, laughing eyes. She looked like a dryad fresh from the winter woods. For years after that Livingstone had never thought of Christmas without being conscious of a certain radiance that vision shed upon the time.
The next day in the holly-dressed church she seemed a saint wrapt in divine adoration.
Another shift of the scene; another Christmas.
Reverses had come. His father, through kindness and generosity, had become involved beyond his means, and, rather than endure the least shadow of reproach, gave up everything he possessed to save his name and shield a friend. Livingstone himself had been called away from college.
He remembered the sensation of it all. He recalled the picture of his father as he stood calm and unmoved amid the wreck of his fortune and faced unflinchingly the hard, dark future. It was an inspiring picture: the picture of a gentleman, far past the age when men can start afresh and achieve success, despoiled by another and stripped of all he had in the world, yet standing upright and tranquil; a just man walking in his integrity; a brave man facing the world; firm as an immovable rock; serene as an unblemished morning.
Livingstone had never taken in before how fine it was. He had at one time even felt aggrieved by his father’s act; now he was suddenly conscious of a thrill of pride in him.
If he were only living! He himself was now worth—! Suddenly that lantern-slide shot before his eyes and shut out the noble figure standing there.
Livingstone’s mind reverted to his own career.
He was a young man in business; living in a cupboard; his salary a bare pittance; yet he was rich; he had hope and youth; family and friends. Heavens! how rich he was then! It made the man in the chair poor now to feel how rich he had been then and had not known it. He looked back at himself with a kind of envy, strange to him, which gave him a pain.