’Which king, Bezonian?’—Henry IV.
Sir Roland of Provence remained in suspense whether to be a novice or an irrevocably pledged Hospitalier. The latter was most probable; and when Adeline’s feelings had been minutely analysed, Miss Conway discovered that she had better not show her morning’s work to her sisters.
Clara and Louis pronounced Jem to be as savage as a bear all through the journey. Clara declared it was revenge for having been civil and amiable all through the vacation; and Louis uttered a theatrical aside, that even that could not have been maintained if he had not occasionally come to Ormersfield to relieve himself a little upon their two lordships.
Laugh as he might, Fitzjocelyn was much concerned and perplexed by his cousin’s ill-humour, when it appeared more permanent than could be puffed off in a few ebullitions. Attempts to penetrate the gloom made it heavier, and Louis resolved to give it time to subside. He waited some days before going near James, and when he next walked to his college found him engaged with pupils. He was himself very busy, and had missed his cousin several times before he at length found him alone.
’Why, Jem, old fellow, what are you about? You’ve not been near my rooms this term. Are you renouncing me in anticipation of my plucking?’
’You won’t be plucked unless you go out of your senses for the occasion.’
’No thanks to your advice and assistance if I am not. But it would conduce to my equanimity, Jem, to know whether we are quarrelling, as in that case I should know how to demean myself.’
‘I’ve no quarrel with you. You have far more reason—But,’ added Jem, catching himself up, ’don’t you know I have no leisure for trifling? The Ordination is the second week in March.’
‘Ay—you know it! My fellowship depends on it.’
‘I never liked to contemplate it.’ He sat down and mused, while James continued his occupation. Presently he said, ’Look here. Sir Miles Oakstead asked me if I had any clever Oxford friend to recommend. If he comes into office, he—’
‘I’ll be no great man’s hanger-on.’
’This matter is not imminent. You are barely four-and-twenty. Wait a year or two; even a few months would—’
‘You have tried my forbearance often enough,’ broke in James; ’my object is—as you very well know—to maintain myself and mine without being liable to obnoxious patronage. If you think I should disgrace the office, speak out!’
Louis, without raising his eyes, only answered with a smile.
’Then, what do you mean? As to your notions of a vocation, ninety-nine out of a hundred are in my case. I have been bred up to this-nothing else is open—I mean to do my duty; and surely that is vocation—no one has a right to object—’