“As serious as I was in the moment of my birth! There’s no other chance.”
“Very well, then, suppose I offer to lend you the money.”
“No less a person.”
And he went on to explain how it was that he was able to make the offer, adding that any sum up to a hundred pounds was at his friend’s disposal.
“Ye mean it, Waymark!” cried O’Gree, leaping round the room in ecstasy. “Bedad, you are a man and a brother, and no mistake! Ye’re the first that ever offered to lend me a penny; ye’re the first that ever had faith in me! You shall come with me to see Sally on Saturday, and tell her this yourself, and I shouldn’t be surprised if she gives you a kiss!”
O’Gree exhausted himself in capering and vociferation, then sat down and began to exercise his luxuriant imagination in picturing unheard-of prosperity.
“We’ll take a shop in a new neighbourhood, where we shall have the monopoly. The people ’ll get to know Sally; she’ll be like a magnet behind the counter. I shall go to the wholesale houses, and impress them with a sense of my financial stability; I flatter myself I shall look the prosperous shopkeeper, eh? Who knows what we may come to? Why, in a few years we may transfer our business to Oxford Street or Piccadilly, and call ourselves Italian warehousemen; and bedad, we’ll turn out in the end another Crosse and Blackwell, see if we don’t!”
At the utmost limit of the time allowed him by the rules of The Academy, the future man of business took his leave, in spirits extravagant even for him.
“Faith,” he exclaimed, when he was already at the door, “who d’ye think I saw last Sunday? As I was free in the afternoon, I took a walk, and, coming back, I went into a little coffee-shop for a cup of tea. A man in an apron came up to serve me, and, by me soul, if it wasn’t poor old Egger! I’ve heard not a word of him since he left last Christmas. He was ashamed of himself, poor devil; but I did my best to make him easy. After all, he’s better off than in the scholastic line.”
Waymark laughed at this incident, and stood watching Q’Gree’s progress down the street for a minute or two. Then he went to his room again, and sitting down with a sigh, fell into deep brooding.
A VISION OF SIN
Maud Enderby’s life at home became ever more solitary. Such daily intercourse as had been established between her mother and herself grew less and less fruitful of real intimacy, till at length it was felt by both to be mere form. Maud strove against this, but there was no corresponding effort on the other side; Mrs. Enderby showed no dislike for her daughter, yet unmistakably shunned her. If she chanced to enter the sitting-room whilst Maud was there, she would, if possible, retreat unobserved; or else she would feign to have come in quest of something,