Watersprings eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 228 pages of information about Watersprings.
was your tact; but you had your own way all the time, with me and with everybody; you seemed to give way at every point, and yet you carried out your programme.  I thought you hadn’t much backbone—­there, the cat’s out; and now I find that we were all dancing to your music.  I like people to do that, and it amuses me to find that I danced as obediently as anyone, when I really thought I could make you do as I wished.  I admire your way of going on:  you make everyone think that you value their opinion, and yet you know exactly what you want and get it.”

Howard laughed.  “I really am not such a diplomatist as that, Jack!  I am not a humbug; but I will tell you frankly what happens.  What people say and think, and even how they look, does affect me very much at the time; but I have a theory that most people get what they really want.  One has to be very careful what one wants in this world, not because one is disappointed, but because Providence hands it one with a smile; and then it often turns out to be an ironical gift—­a punishment in disguise.”

“Maud shall hear that,” said Jack; “a punishment in disguise—­that will do her good, and take her down a peg or two.  So you have found it out already?”

“My dear Jack,” said Howard, “if you say anything of the kind, you will repent it.  I am not going to have Maud bothered just now with any nonsense.  Do you hear that?  The frankness of your family is one of its greatest charms—­but you don’t quite know how much the frankness of babes and sucklings can hurt—­and you are not to experiment on Maud.”

Jack looked at Howard with a smile.  “Here’s the real man at last—­ the tyrant’s vein!  Of course, I obey.  I didn’t really mean it; and I like to hear you speak like that; it’s rather fine.”

Presently Jack said, “Now, about the Governor—­rather a douche, I expect?  But I see you can take care of yourself; he’s hugely delighted—­the intellectual temperature rises in every letter I get from him.  But I want to make sure of one thing.  I’m not going to stay on here much longer.  I don’t want a degree—­it isn’t the slightest use, plain or coloured.  I want to get to work.  If you come up again next term, I can stand it, not otherwise.”

“Very well,” said Howard, “that’s a bargain.  I must just talk things over with Maud.  If we come up to Cambridge in October, you will stay till next June.  If we don’t, you shall be planted in the business.  They will take you in, I believe, at any time, but would prefer you to finish your time here.”

“Yes, that’s it,” said Jack, “but I want work:  this is all right, in a way, but it’s mostly piffle.  How all these Johnnies can dangle on, I don’t know; it’s not my idea of life.”

“Well, there’s no hurry,” said Howard, “but it shall be arranged as you wish.”

XXXI

MAKING THE BEST OF IT

Howard became aware that with his colleagues he had suddenly become rather a person of importance.  His “place” in the country was held in some dim way to increase the grandeur of the College.  He found himself deferred to and congratulated.  Mr. Redmayne was both caustic and affectionate.

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Watersprings from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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