On Monday morning he went down to the chambers in the Temple where his name as a practising barrister was painted upon the lintel of the door. This was a matter of formality. Numberless barristers do it every day; numberless ones of them find the same as he did—nothing to be done. He had long since overcome the depression which such an announcement had used to bring with it. There should be no disappointment in the expected which invariably happens. The sanguine mind is a weak mind that suffers it. Traill turned away from the Temple, whistling a hymn tune as if it were a popular favourite.
From there he made his way down into the hub of journalism. The descent into hell is easy. He rode there with a free lance—known by all the editors—capable in his way—a man to be relied upon for anything but imagination. From one office to another, he trudged; climbing numberless stairs, filling in numberless slips of paper with his name, saying nothing about his business. They knew his business—the ability to do anything that was going. He had written leaders on the advance of Socialism—criticized a play, reviewed a book. It says little beyond the fact that one is ready and willing to do these things.
So, until the nearing hour of lunch time, he went about—a scavenger of jobs—sweeping up the refuse of the paper’s needs, as the boys in Covent Garden search through the barrows of sawdust for the stray, green grapes that have been thrown out with the brushings of the stalls.
If one knew how half the men in London find the way to live, one would stand amazed. Life is not the dreadful thing; it is the living of it. Life in the abstract is a gay pageant, the passing of a show, caparisoned in armour, in ermine, in motley, in what you will. But see that man without his armour, this woman without her ermine, these in the crowd without their motley and the merry, merry jangling of the bells, and you will find how slender are the muscles that the armour lays bare, how shrivelled the breast that the ermine strips, how dragged and weary is that pitiable, naked figure which a few moments before was dancing fantastically, grimacing with its ape.
Traill took it as it came; the man forced to a crude philosophy, as Life, if we get enough of it, will force every soul of us. You must have a philosophy if you are going to accept Life. Even if you refuse it, you must have a philosophy, call it pessimistic, what you wish, it is still a point of view. The “temporary insanity” of the coroner’s court is most times a vile hypocrisy, invented to soothe a Christian conscience.
So long as he found enough work to do, his spirits were light. He had a normal contempt for the temperament that is known as artistic, despised the variability of mood, ridiculed its April uncertainty. This is the man who hews his way through Life, making no wide passage perhaps, no definite pathway for the thousands who are looking for the broad and simple track; but cuts down, lops off, with the sheer strength of dogged determination, the hundred obstacles that beset his progress.