The Unclassed eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 469 pages of information about The Unclassed.
He puts his hand in his pocket, and bids with security for every joy of body and mind; even death he faces with the comforting consciousness that his defeat will only coincide with that of human science.  He buys culture, he buys peace of mind, he buys love.—­You think not!  I don’t use the word cynically, but in very virtuous earnest.  Make me a millionaire, and I will purchase the passionate devotion of any free-hearted woman the world contains!”

Waymark’s pipe had gone out; he re-lit it, with the half-mocking smile which always followed upon any more vehement utterance.

“That I am poor,” he went on presently, “is the result of my own pigheadedness.  My father was a stock-broker, in anything but flourishing circumstances.  He went in for some cursed foreign loan or other,—­I know nothing of such things,—­and ruined himself completely.  He had to take a subordinate position, and died in it.  I was about seventeen then, and found myself alone in the world.  A friend of my father’s, also a city man, Woodstock by name, was left my guardian.  He wanted me to begin a business career, and, like a fool, I wouldn’t hear of it.  Mr. Woodstock and I quarrelled; he showed himself worthy of his name, and told me plainly that, if I didn’t choose to take his advice, I must shift for myself.  That I professed myself perfectly ready to do; I was bent on an intellectual life, forsooth; couldn’t see that the natural order of things was to make money first and be intellectual afterwards.  So, lad as I was, I got a place as a teacher, and that’s been my business ever since.”

Waymark threw himself back and laughed carelessly.  He strummed a little with his fingers on the arm of the chair, and resumed: 

“I interested myself in religion and philosophy; I became an aggressive disciple of free-thought, as it is called.  Radicalism of every kind broke out in me, like an ailment.  I bought cheap free-thought literature; to one or two papers of the kind I even contributed.  I keep these effusions carefully locked up, for salutary self-humiliation at some future day, when I shall have grown conceited.  Nay, I went further.  I delivered lectures at working-men’s clubs, lectures with violent titles.  One, I remember, was called ‘The Gospel of Rationalism.’  And I was enthusiastic in the cause, with an enthusiasm such as I shall never experience again.  Can I imagine myself writing and speaking such things now-a-days?  Scarcely:  yet the spirit remains, it is only the manifestations which have changed.  I am by nature combative; I feel the need of attacking the cherished prejudices of society; I have a joy in outraging what are called the proprieties.  And I wait for my opportunity, which has yet to come.”

“How commonplace my life has been, in comparison,” said Julian, after an interval of thoughtfulness.

“Your nature, I believe, is very pure, and therefore very happy. I am what Browning somewhere calls a ‘beast with a speckled hide,’ and happiness, I take it, I shall never know.”

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The Unclassed from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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