Ernest felt now that the turning point of his life had come. He would give up all for Christ—even his tobacco.
So he gathered together his pipes and pouches, and locked them up in his portmanteau under his bed where they should be out of sight, and as much out of mind as possible. He did not burn them, because someone might come in who wanted to smoke, and though he might abridge his own liberty, yet, as smoking was not a sin, there was no reason why he should be hard on other people.
After breakfast he left his rooms to call on a man named Dawson, who had been one of Mr Hawke’s hearers on the preceding evening, and who was reading for ordination at the forthcoming Ember Weeks, now only four months distant. This man had been always of a rather serious turn of mind—a little too much so for Ernest’s taste; but times had changed, and Dawson’s undoubted sincerity seemed to render him a fitting counsellor for Ernest at the present time. As he was going through the first court of John’s on his way to Dawson’s rooms, he met Badcock, and greeted him with some deference. His advance was received with one of those ecstatic gleams which shone occasionally upon the face of Badcock, and which, if Ernest had known more, would have reminded him of Robespierre. As it was, he saw it and unconsciously recognised the unrest and self-seekingness of the man, but could not yet formulate them; he disliked Badcock more than ever, but as he was going to profit by the spiritual benefits which he had put in his way, he was bound to be civil to him, and civil he therefore was.
Badcock told him that Mr Hawke had returned to town immediately his discourse was over, but that before doing so he had enquired particularly who Ernest and two or three others were. I believe each one of Ernest’s friends was given to understand that he had been more or less particularly enquired after. Ernest’s vanity—for he was his mother’s son—was tickled at this; the idea again presented itself to him that he might be the one for whose benefit Mr Hawke had been sent. There was something, too, in Badcock’s manner which conveyed the idea that he could say more if he chose, but had been enjoined to silence.
On reaching Dawson’s rooms, he found his friend in raptures over the discourse of the preceding evening. Hardly less delighted was he with the effect it had produced on Ernest. He had always known, he said, that Ernest would come round; he had been sure of it, but he had hardly expected the conversion to be so sudden. Ernest said no more had he, but now that he saw his duty so clearly he would get ordained as soon as possible, and take a curacy, even though the doing so would make him have to go down from Cambridge earlier, which would be a great grief to him. Dawson applauded this determination, and it was arranged that as Ernest was still more or less of a weak brother, Dawson should take him, so to speak, in spiritual tow for a while, and strengthen and confirm his faith.