MIKE: The question of morals is not involved. If you were not so young and foolish you would know that your God (if you so call Him, though He is not a patch on mine) knows what is good for you better than you do yourself. He forbids your chasing cars because you might get hurt.
GISSING: Then instinct is not to be obeyed?
MIKE: Not when God is around.
GISSING: Yet He encourages me to chase sticks, which my instinct strongly impels me to do. Prosit! Waes hael! Excuse my enthusiasm, but you really know very little of the world or you would not take things so calmly.
MIKE: My dear boy, rheumatism is a great sedative. You will learn by and by. What are you making such a racket about?
GISSING: I have just learned that there is no such thing as free will. I don’t suppose you ever meditated on these things, you are such an old stick-in-the-mud. But in my generation we scrutinize everything.
MIKE: There is plenty of free will when you have learned to will the right things. But there’s no use willing yourself to destroy a motor truck, because it can’t be done. I have been young, and now am old, but never have I seen an honest dog homeless, nor his pups begging their bones. You will go to the devil if you don’t learn to restrain yourself.
GISSING: Last night there was a white cat in the sky. Yoicks, yoicks! I ran thirty times round the house, yelling.
MIKE: Only the moon, nothing to bark about.
GISSING: You are very old, and I do not think you have ever really felt the excitement of life. Excuse me, but have you seen me jump up and pull the baby’s clothes from the line? It is glorious fun.
MIKE: My good lad, I think life will deal hardly with you.
(Exit, shaking his head.)
AT THE GASTHOF ZUM OCHSEN
Looking over some several-days-old papers we observe that the truant Mr. Bergdoll was discovered at Eberbach in Baden. Well, well, we meditate, Herr Bergdoll is not wholly devoid of sense, if he is rambling about that delicious valley of the Neckar. And if we were a foreign correspondent, anxious to send home to the papers a complete story of Herr Bergdoll’s doings in those parts, we would know exactly what to do. We would go straight to the excellent Herr Leutz, proprietor of the Gasthof zum Ochsen in Eberbach, and listen to his prattle. Herr Leutz, whom we have never forgotten (since we once spent a night in his inn, companioned by another vagabond who is now Prof. W.L.G. Williams of Cornell University, so our clients in Ithaca, if any, can check us up on this fact), is the most innocently talkative person we have ever met.