2021-04-17 01:27:51

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ENGLISH Its so horrid to work for a cad, Charles. I havent done it before. Oh, I know he was awfully kind to youYes, some do go up in the world, she went on. Whod have thought thirty years ago that T. Keeling of the fish-shop in the High Street was going to be Mr Thomas Keeling of the Stores?

A slight smile appeared on Keelings grim face. He could not resist replying to this.

He climbed quickly up the narrow chalky path, and at the top left it to tramp over the turf. Here he was on an eminence that commanded miles of open country, empty and yet brimful of this invasion of renewed life that combed through him like a swirl of sea-water through the thickets of subaqueous weed. His back was to the cup of hills round which Bracebridge clustered, and turning round he looked at it with a curious sense of detachment. There were the spires of the Cathedral, and hardly less prominent beside them the terra-cotta cupolas of the Stores. He wanted one as little as he wanted the other, and turned westwards, where the successive lines of downs stretched away like waves of a landless sea. Then he stopped again, for from a tussock of grass not fifty yards from him there shot up with throbbing throat and down-beating wings a solitary lark.{233} Somewhere in that tussock was the mate to whom it sang.Ah, that had not occurred to me, said Keeling.

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According to custom, Mr Keeling, with his two sons, went for a brisk walk, whatever the weather, before lunch, while Alice and her mother, one of whose habits was to set as few feet to the ground as was humanly possible without incurring the danger of striking root, got into the victoria that waited for them at the church-door, on which the fat horse was roused from his reverie and began heavily lolloping homewards. It was not usual in Bracebridge to have a carriage out on Sunday, and Mrs Keeling, surveying less fortunate pedestrians through her tortoise-shell-handled glass, was Sunday by Sunday a little Lucretian on the subject. The matter of the carriage also was a monument to her own immovableness, for her husband, years ago, had done his utmost to induce her to traverse the half mile on her own feet.

It is not too much to say that the room was of the nature of a temple, for here a very essential and withdrawn part of himself passed hours of praise and worship. Born in the humblest circumstances, he had, from the days when he slept on a piece of sacking below the counter in his fathers most unprofitable shop, devoted all the push, all the activity of his energies to the grappling of business problems and the pursuit of money-making. To many this becomes by the period of{33} middle age a passion not less incurable than drug drinking, and not less ruinous than that to the nobler appetites of life. But Keeling had never allowed it thus to usurp and swamp him; he always had guarded his secret garden, fencing it impenetrably off from the clatter of the till. Here, though undeveloped and sundered from the rest of his life, grew the rose of romance, namely the sense of beauty in books; here shone for him the light which never was on sea or land, which inspires every artists dream. He was not in any degree creative, he had not the desire any more than the skill to write or to draw when he lost himself in reverie over the printed page or the illustrations in his sumptuous editions. But the sense of wonder and admiration which is the oil in the artists lamp burned steadily for him, and lit with a never-flickering flame the hours he passed among his books. Above all, when he was here he lost completely a certain sense of loneliness which was his constant companion.

Very likely, my dear, said Mrs Keeling{106} amiably, and Im sure thats a beautiful bit of figured silk which he has his coat made of.

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Oh, do tell us a little more, she said.For a few minutes he sat glowering and sipping.

But as the fire began to die down, the invigorating prospect of next day lost its quality, and there began to stir in her mind a vague disquiet. Hitherto it had really been enough for her that Mr Silverdale existed; to put him on a pedestal and adore in company with other reverential worshippers had satisfied her, and the inspiration had resulted in many useful activities. But to-night she began to wish that there had not been{113} so many other worshippers, towards whom he exhibited the same benignant and affectionate aspect. There was Julia Fyson, for instance: he would walk between them with an arm for each, and a pressure of the hand for Julia as well as herself. In moments of expansion she and Julia had confided to each other their adoration and its rewards; they had sung their hymns of praise together, and had bewailed to each other the rare moments when he seemed to be cold and distant with them, each administering comfort to the other, and being secretly rather pleased. But now Alice felt that any story of his coldness to Julia would give her more than a little pleasure. She would like him to be always cold to Julia. She wanted him herself. And at that moment the truth struck her: she was in love with him. Till then, she had not known it: till then, perhaps, there had been nothing definite and personal to know. But now, as the fire died down, she was aware of nothing else, and her heart starved and cried out. She had admired and adored before; those were self-supporting emotions. But this cried out for its due sustenance.

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Apr-17 01:27:51