The Way of All Flesh eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 579 pages of information about The Way of All Flesh.

“As for you I bid you God speed.  Be bold but logical, speculative but cautious, daringly courageous, but properly circumspect withal,” etc., etc.

I think this may do for the present.


I had called on Ernest as a matter of course when he first came to London, but had not seen him.  I had been out when he returned my call, so that he had been in town for some weeks before I actually saw him, which I did not very long after he had taken possession of his new rooms.  I liked his face, but except for the common bond of music, in respect of which our tastes were singularly alike, I should hardly have known how to get on with him.  To do him justice he did not air any of his schemes to me until I had drawn him out concerning them.  I, to borrow the words of Ernest’s landlady, Mrs Jupp, “am not a very regular church-goer”—­I discovered upon cross-examination that Mrs Jupp had been to church once when she was churched for her son Tom some five and twenty years since, but never either before or afterwards; not even, I fear, to be married, for though she called herself “Mrs” she wore no wedding ring, and spoke of the person who should have been Mr Jupp as “my poor dear boy’s father,” not as “my husband.”  But to return.  I was vexed at Ernest’s having been ordained.  I was not ordained myself and I did not like my friends to be ordained, nor did I like having to be on my best behaviour and to look as if butter would not melt in my mouth, and all for a boy whom I remembered when he knew yesterday and to-morrow and Tuesday, but not a day of the week more—­not even Sunday itself—­and when he said he did not like the kitten because it had pins in its toes.

I looked at him and thought of his aunt Alethea, and how fast the money she had left him was accumulating; and it was all to go to this young man, who would use it probably in the very last ways with which Miss Pontifex would have sympathised.  I was annoyed.  “She always said,” I thought to myself, “that she should make a mess of it, but I did not think she would have made as great a mess of it as this.”  Then I thought that perhaps if his aunt had lived he would not have been like this.

Ernest behaved quite nicely to me and I own that the fault was mine if the conversation drew towards dangerous subjects.  I was the aggressor, presuming I suppose upon my age and long acquaintance with him, as giving me a right to make myself unpleasant in a quiet way.

Then he came out, and the exasperating part of it was that up to a certain point he was so very right.  Grant him his premises and his conclusions were sound enough, nor could I, seeing that he was already ordained, join issue with him about his premises as I should certainly have done if I had had a chance of doing so before he had taken orders.  The result was that I had to beat a retreat and went away not in the best of humours.  I believe the truth was that I liked Ernest, and was vexed at his being a clergyman, and at a clergyman having so much money coming to him.

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The Way of All Flesh from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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