Fraternity eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 278 pages of information about Fraternity.

Presently he went to her door, and stood there listening.  He could hear no sound whatever.  If she had been crying if she had been laughing—­it would have been better than this silence.  He put his hands up to his ears and ran down-stairs.

CHAPTER XIII

SOUND IN THE NIGHT

He passed his study door, and halted at Mr. Stone’s; the thought of the old man, so steady and absorbed in the face of all external things, refreshed him.

Still in his brown woollen gown, Mr. Stone was sitting with his eyes fixed on something in the corner, whence a little perfumed steam was rising.

“Shut the door,” he said; “I am making cocoa; will you have a cup?”

“Am I disturbing you?” asked Hilary.

Mr. Stone looked at him steadily before answering: 

“If I work after cocoa, I find it clogs the liver.”

“Then, if you’ll let me, sir, I’ll stay a little.”

“It is boiling,” said Mr. Stone.  He took the saucepan off the flame, and, distending his frail cheeks, blew.  Then, while the steam mingled with his frosty beard, he brought two cups from a cupboard, filled one of them, and looked at Hilary.

“I should like you,” he said, “to hear three or four pages I have just completed; you may perhaps be able to suggest a word or two.”

He placed the saucepan back on the stove, and grasped the cup he had filled.

“I will drink my cocoa, and read them to you.”

Going to the desk, he stood, blowing at the cup.

Hilary turned up the collar of his coat against the night wind which was visiting the room, and glanced at the empty cup, for he was rather hungry.  He heard a curious sound:  Mr. Stone was blowing his own tongue.  In his haste to read, he had drunk too soon and deeply of the cocoa.

“I have burnt my mouth,” he said.

Hilary moved hastily towards him:  “Badly?  Try cold milk, sir.”

Mr. Stone lifted the cup.

“There is none,” he said, and drank again.

‘What would I not give,’ thought Hilary, ’to have his singleness of heart!’

There was the sharp sound of a cup set down.  Then, out of a rustling of papers, a sort of droning rose: 

“’The Proletariat—­with a cynicism natural to those who really are in want, and even amongst their leaders only veiled when these attained a certain position in the public eye—­desired indeed the wealth and leisure of their richer neighbours, but in their long night of struggle with existence they had only found the energy to formulate their pressing needs from day to day.  They were a heaving, surging sea of creatures, slowly, without consciousness or real guidance, rising in long tidal movements to set the limits of the shore a little farther back, and cast afresh the form of social life; and on its pea-green bosom ’” Mr. Stone paused.  “She

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Fraternity from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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