“Very clever. That is, he talks very well if you will let him talk after his own fashion. You would always fancy that he was going to eat you;—but that is his way.”
“And you like him?”
“I am so glad to hear you say so.”
“Is he a favourite of yours, Miss Effingham?”
“Not now,—not particularly. I hardly ever see him. But his sister is the best friend I have, and I used to like him so much when he was a boy! I have not seen that cottage since that day, and I remember it as though it were yesterday. Lord Chiltern is quite changed, is he not?”
“Changed,—in what way?”
“They used to say that he was—unsteady you know.”
“I think he is changed. But Chiltern is at heart a Bohemian. It is impossible not to see that at once. He hates the decencies of life.”
“I suppose he does,” said Violet. “He ought to marry. If he were married, that would all be cured;—don’t you think so?”
“I cannot fancy him with a wife,” said Phineas, “There is a savagery about him which would make him an uncomfortable companion for a woman.”
“But he would love his wife?”
“Yes, as he does his horses. And he would treat her well,—as he does his horses. But he expects every horse he has to do anything that any horse can do; and he would expect the same of his wife.”
Phineas had no idea how deep an injury he might be doing his friend by this description, nor did it once occur to him that his companion was thinking of herself as the possible wife of this Red Indian. Miss Effingham rode on in silence for some distance, and then she said but one word more about Lord Chiltern. “He was so good to me in that cottage.”
On the following day the party at Saulsby was broken up, and there was a regular pilgrimage towards Loughlinter. Phineas resolved upon sleeping a night at Edinburgh on his way, and he found himself joined in the bands of close companionship with Mr. Ratler for the occasion. The evening was by no means thrown away, for he learned much of his trade from Mr. Ratler. And Mr. Ratler was heard to declare afterwards at Loughlinter that Mr. Finn was a pleasant young man.
It soon came to be admitted by all who knew Phineas Finn that he had a peculiar power of making himself agreeable which no one knew how to analyse or define. “I think it is because he listens so well,” said one man. “But the women would not like him for that,” said another. “He has studied when to listen and when to talk,” said a third. The truth, however, was, that Phineas Finn had made no study in the matter at all. It was simply his nature to be pleasant.