“Without wishing to pry into your affairs, have you sufficient to live upon?”
“Yes, in a moderate way; about a younger brother’s portion, which will just keep me in gloves, cigars, and eau de cologne.”
“Then take my advice and be nothing. The only difference I can see between a gentleman and anybody else, is that one is idle and the other works hard. One is a useless, and the other a useful, member of society. Such is the absurdity of the opinions of the world.”
“Yes, I agree with you, and would prefer being a gentleman in that respect, and do nothing, if they would admit me in every other; but that they will not do. I am in an unfortunate position.”
“And will be until your feelings become blunted as mine have been,” replied Atkinson. “Had you acquiesced in my proposal, you would have done better. As it is, I can be of no use to you; nay, without intending an affront, I do not know if we ought to be seen together, for your decision not to fight your way is rather awkward, as I cannot back one with my support who will not do credit to it. Do not be angry at what I say; you are your own master, and have a right to decide for yourself,—if you think yourself not so wholly lost as to be able eventually to recover yourself by other means, I do not blame you, as I know it is only from an error in judgment, and not from want of courage.”
“At present I am, I acknowledge, lost, Captain Atkinson; but if I succeed in finding my father—”
“Good morning, Newland, good morning,” replied he, hastily. “I see how it is; of course we shall be civil to each other when we meet, for I wish you well, but we must not be seen together, or you may injure my character.”
“Injure your character, Captain Atkinson?”
“Yes, Mr Newland, injure my character. I do not mean to say but that there are characters more respectable, but I have a character which suits me, and it has the merit of consistency. As you are not prepared, as the Americans say, to go the whole hog, we will part good friends, and if I have said anything to annoy you, I beg your pardon.”
“Good-bye, then, Captain Atkinson; for the kindness you have shown me I am grateful.” He shook my hand, and walked out of the room. “And for having thus broken up our acquaintance, more grateful still,” thought I, as he went down stairs.
I cut my new acquaintance,
but his company, even in so short a
time, proves my ruin—notwithstanding I part with all my
property, I retain my honesty.