However, Hilary succeeded in achieving marriage with the cheerful Peggy Callaghan, and having done so they went abroad and lived an uneven and rather exciting life of alternate squalor and luxury in one story of what had once been a glorious roseate home of Venetian counts, and was now crumbling to pieces and let in flats to the poor. Hilary and his wife were most suitably domiciled therein, environed by a splendid dinginess and squalor, pretentious, tawdry, grandiose, and superbly evading the common. Peggy wrote to Peter in her large sprawling hand, “You dear little brother, I wish you’d come and live with us. We have such fun....” That was the best of Peggy. Always and everywhere she had such fun. She added, “Give my sisterly regards to the splendid hero who shared your mamma, and tell him we too live in a palace.” That was so like Peggy, that sudden and amused prodding into the most secret intimacies of one’s emotions. Peggy always discerned a great deal, and was blind to a great deal more.
THE CHOICE OF A CAREER
Hilary, stretching his slender length wearily in Peter’s fat arm-chair, was saying in his high, sweet voice:
“It’s the merest pittance, Peter, yours and mine. The Robinsons have it practically all. The Robinsons. Really, you know ...”
The sweet voice had a characteristic, vibrating break of contempt. Hilary had always hated the Robinsons, who now had it practically all. Hilary looked pale and tired; he had been settling his dead uncle’s affairs for the last week. The Margerisons’ uncle had not been a lovable man; Hilary could not pretend that he had loved him. Peter had, as far as he had been permitted to do so; Peter found it possible to be attached to most of the people he came across; he was a person of catholic sympathies and gregarious instincts. Even when he heard how the Robinsons had it practically all, he bore no resentment either against his uncle or the Robinsons. Such was life. And of course he and Hilary did not make wise use of money; that they had always been told.
“You’ll have to leave Cambridge,” Hilary told him. “You haven’t enough to keep you here. I’m sorry, Peter; I’m afraid you’ll have to begin and try to earn a living. But I can’t imagine how, can you? Has any paying line of life ever occurred to you as possible?”
“Never,” Peter assured him. “But I’ve not had time to think it over yet, of course. I supposed I should be up here for two years more, you see.”
At Hilary’s “You’ll have to leave Cambridge,” his face had changed sharply. Here was tragedy indeed. Bother the Robinsons.... But after a moment’s pause for recovery he answered Hilary lightly enough. Such, again, was life. A marvellous two terms and a half, and then the familiar barred gate. It was an old story.
Hilary’s thoughts turned to his own situation. They never, to tell the truth, dwelt very long on anybody else’s.