CHAPTER IX. OUT BEYOND
Do the work that’s nearest,
Though it’s dull at whiles,
Helping, when we meet them,
Lame dogs over stiles.
See in every hedgerow
Marks of angels’ feet;
Epics in each pebble
Underneath our feet.-C. Kingsley.
“Drawing? Well done, Cherie! That’s a jolly little beggar; quite masterly, as old Renville would say,” exclaimed Gerald Underwood, looking at a charming water-colour of a little fisher-boy, which Mrs. Grinstead was just completing.
“‘The Faithful Henchman,’ it ought to be called,” said Anna. “That little being has attached himself to Fergus Merrifield, and follows him and Adrian everywhere on what they are pleased to call their scientific expeditions.”
“The science of larks?”
“Oh dear, no. Fergus is wild after fossils, and has made Adrian the same, and he really knows an immense deal. They are always after fossils and stones when they are out of school.”
“The precious darling!”
“Miss Mohun says Fergus is quite to be trusted not to take him into dangerous places.”
“An unlooked-for blessing. Ha!” as he turned over his aunt’s portfolio, “that’s a stunner! You should work it up for the Academy.”
“This kind of thing is better for the purpose,” Mrs. Grinstead said.
“Throw away such work upon a twopenny halfpenny bazaar! Heaven forefend!”
“Don’t be tiresome, Gerald,” entreated Anna. “You are going to do all sorts of things for it, and we shall have no end of fun.”
“For the sake of stopping the course of the current,” returned Gerald, proceeding to demonstrate in true nineteenth-century style the hopelessness of subjecting education to what he was pleased to call clericalism. “You’ll never reach the masses while you insist on using an Apostle spoon.”
“Masses are made up of atoms,” replied his aunt.
“And we shall be lost if you don’t help,” added Anna.
“I would help readily enough if it were free dinners, or anything to equalize the existence of the classes, instead of feeding the artificial wants of the one at the expense of the toil and wretchedness of the other.”
He proceeded to mention some of the miseries that he had learnt through the Oxford House-dilating on them with much enthusiasm-till presently his uncle came in, and ere long a parlour-maid announced luncheon, just as there was a rush into the house. Adrian was caught by his sister, and submitted, without more than a “Bother!” to be made respectable, and only communicating in spasmodic gasps facts about Merrifield and hockey.
“Where’s Marshall?” asked Gerald at the first opportunity, on the maid leaving the room.
“Marshall could not stand it,” said his aunt. “He can’t exist without London, and doing the honours of a studio.”