Tales of Men and Ghosts eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 278 pages of information about Tales of Men and Ghosts.
virtuous obtuseness, and in her worshipper’s timidity, they allowed themselves a latitude of banter that sometimes turned their audience cold.  Dredge meanwhile was going on obstinately with his work.  Now and then he had queer fits of idleness, when he lapsed into a state of sulky inertia from which even Lanfear’s admonitions could not rouse him.  Once, just before an examination, he suddenly went off to the Maine woods for two weeks, came back, and failed to pass.  I don’t know if his benefactor ever lost hope; but at times his confidence must have been sorely strained.  The queer part of it was that when Dredge emerged from these eclipses he seemed keener and more active than ever.  His slowly growing intelligence probably needed its periodical pauses of assimilation; and Lanfear was marvellously patient.

At last Dredge finished his course and went to Germany; and when he came back he was a new man—­was, in fact, the Dredge we all know.  He seemed to have shed his blundering, encumbering personality, and come to life as a disembodied intelligence.  His fidelity to the Lanfears was unchanged; but he showed it negatively, by his discretions and abstentions.  I have an idea that Mabel was less disposed to deride him, might even have been induced to softer sentiments; but I doubt if Dredge even noticed the change.  As for his ex-goddess, he seemed to regard her as a motherly household divinity, the guardian genius of the darning needle; but on Professor Lanfear he looked with a deepening reverence.  If the rest of the family had diminished in his eyes, its head had grown even greater.

II

FROM that day Dredge’s progress continued steadily.  If not always perceptible to the untrained eye, in Lanfear’s sight it never deviated, and the great man began to associate Dredge with his work, and to lean on him more and more.  Lanfear’s health was already failing, and in my confidential talks with him I saw how he counted on Galen Dredge to continue and amplify his doctrine.  If he did not describe the young man as his predestined Huxley, it was because any such comparison between himself and his great predecessors would have been repugnant to his taste; but he evidently felt that it would be Dredge’s role to reveal him to posterity.  And the young man seemed at that time to take the same view of his calling.  When he was not busy about Lanfear’s work he was recording their conversations with the diligence of a biographer and the accuracy of a naturalist.  Any attempt to question or minimize Lanfear’s theories roused in his disciple the only flashes of wrath I have ever seen a scientific discussion provoke in him.  In defending his master he became almost as intemperate as in the early period of his literary passions.

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Tales of Men and Ghosts from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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