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'And you consider yourself to be this sacrifice, this victim, by singing in a surplice for ladies to whisper about, instead of getting trained to interpret-nay, what I do say! maybe, compose-the grandest human music. You've got it in you, my boy.'
'You may say what you please,' said Lance, turning away to the fire.
I don't want to vex you, boy, I only want to make it out. I see the sacrifice.'
'It was my own fault for saying a word about it to you,' muttered Lance.
'But I don't see the sense of it,' proceeded Edgar, 'or what it is but your own fancy that puts the one thing up in the heights, the other down in the depths,'
'You must know that,' said Lance, 'the fever and transport that comes of one kind of music has nothing good in it.'
'That's the question.'
'I know it has not for me.'
'And has the other?'
'Of course it has! Besides, I don't do it for myself. Come, Edgar, tell me how to direct that letter, and let me go.'
'You may leave it till I go to town.'
'That would not be fair. He will want to look out for someone else. Tell me!'
'Not I! I'm not going to let you make a fool of yourself in a fit of religious excitement.'
Lance smiled. 'Much excitement in a cold dark church in a wet morning, with not twenty people there.'
'That's as you work yourself up. Here, sit down and take the other pipe.'
'I can't; I can hardly stand yours, my head is raging !' 'Oh! that accounts for it! Go off to bed, and wake in weekday senses.'
'I wish you'd let me have done with it,' sighed Lance; but Edgar shook his head with, All for your good, my dear fellow !'
'If Balak's messengers will stay the night, it is not my doing,' said Lance to himself, as he wearily mounted the stairs to his sleepless bed in the barrack; for though his headaches had become
much less frequent and disabling, still his constitution was so sensitive, that a course of disturbed nights always followed any excitement; and thus the morrow found him dull and confused enough to render his attempts at diligence so far from successful, that he was more than once sharply called to order; and Felix came in at dinner-time, exclaiming, 'I can't think what's the matter with that boy. He seems as if he would never do any good again!'
'Précisément l' muttered Edgar. You had better give him up with a good grace, as I told you before.'
And being at the moment alone in the room with Felix and Geraldine, he not only detailed his plans for Lance, but eagerly counselled Felix to invest at least half Thomas Underwood's legacy in the National Minstrelsy.
Then it is this that
'Really!' said Felix, in a tone of irony, 'this is nearly coming to the old plan of setting up a family circus! has so entirely unsettled him?'
That the old must pass away is not sufficiently appreciated here.'
Then Edgar appealed to Cherry for the charms of artist society, and the confutation of the delusions respecting it held by Philistines at home, a conversation only interrupted by the arrival of dinner, and the rest of the population.
Felix as usual had to go down after a few mouthfuls; Edgar followed him to say on the stairs, 'I've one piece of advice to give. Remember that you are an old Philistine giant, and act with due humility.'
'Is he set upon it?'
'I cannot say heart and soul, for heart and what he thinks soul are pulling opposite ways. I say, Felix, you should take into consideration the effect on me. I haven't sat still to listen to so much piety since my father's time; it is a caution to see a little chap so simply literal.'
Felix could wait no longer.
'Thank you, I'd rather not.
He found Lance alone in the office,
'Not much now!'
'I'm sorry I was sharp with you this morning, Lance. You should have told me !'
'It was not worth while, but I did mean to have done better today, Felix!'
I believe you did. If you think it will set you to rights, I would let you off this afternoon.'
'No, thank you; it is getting better.'
Felix looked at him a moment or two, then said, 'Edgar tells me he has been talking to you.'
"Yes. I hope you have given him a settler, Felix.'
'I tried, but he would not take it. He thought it was only Sunday.'
'That made me sure it would not do.'
'You are quite right, Lance. So far as it depends on me, I should have done all in my power to keep you from what cannot but be a life of much temptation, and I am thankful that you have decided it for yourself. You are really content to stay here with
Content-well, not just now; but I shall be again when all the remains of the bear-fight have subsided,' said Lance. 'I ought and I must, and that's enough.'
With which words he ran out as some one was heard entering the shop; and Felix stood for a few moments over the fire, musing on the brave way in which his young brother had met the enticement, and on the danger into which his own reproofs, however well-merited, had driven him.
Lance's other occupation that evening did not make him better pleased with Edgar's friends. Wilmet had decreed-and he had submitted half ruefully, half-merrily-that what remained of his salary after his contribution to the house expenses, should be guarded by her for his wardrobe, only half-a-crown a week being put into his own hands; and as this always managed to disappear without much to shew for it, she viewed it as quite enough for waste; and indeed, out of what was in her keeping she had managed to provide him with a watch.
With his Monday half-crown, and sixpence besides, he repaired to the Fortinbras Arms to pay for his share of the notable breakfast; but he found some demur; Mr. Jones was aghast at his own bill, and really unwilling to send it in. The private supper, the next day's breakfast, and all that the party had called for, amounted to what would make a terrible hole in the receipts of the concert.
As to Lance's paying the fifth part of the déjeuner, the landlord thought it was impossible, and though his three shillings might perhaps represent the cost of what he had individually consumed, to offer or accept that was not according to rules. Mr. Jones would gladly have made this bill his subscription to the organ, if he could but have afforded the loss; but this, as he told Lance, he could not do. He listened, however, with a smile of some pity, when Lance assured him that his own and his brother's shares should be made up; and Lance picked out the charge, and carried it off to Edgar.
There again he met with no success. Edgar laughed at him, and told him he did not know the privileges of the artiste; and when Lance waxed hot, and declared that if the concert paid the expenses of the two stars themselves, it was a wicked exaction to make it defray the expenses of either Mr. Allen or their guests, he was answered coolly that expensive articles must be taken on their own terms, and that spoiling the Philistines was always fair.
'Then don't you mean to pay, Edgar?'
Edgar gave his foreign shrug, and made a gesture of incapability. He was vexed with Lance, and at no pains to soften matters.
'Now,' said Lance, with a sort of grave simplicity, 'I understand what living like birds of the air means.'
Lance went back to Mr. Jones, and told him that the two-fifths of the breakfast should be paid. And in twelve weeks it was done. But by this specimen it may be guessed that the new organ was not exactly purchased by the concert.
'Oft with anxious straining eyes
We watch the coming of some joy long hoped for ;
And stealthy thing, that we should fly like death
Did we but see it, is advancing on us,
Yes, step by step with those of its bright compeer.'
(Quoted in Helps' Casimir Maremma.)
'WHICH is to have the precedence, Alda's child or ours?' 'Alda's child is not likely to be ready for inspection as early as ours.'
'Oh! I thought you would vote it treason to babydom not to begin with Lowndes Square.'
'My maternal feelings draw me the other way, you see.' 'You won't confess it to Wilmet!'
'It is of no use to go to Alda before twelve,' put in Marilda. 'Cherry had better go to the Royal Academy before it gets full.' It was May, and the catalogue of the Royal Academy boreNo. 260.-Brynhild.
T. E. Underwood.
and a good way further on, among the water-colours,
So, these having been accepted, Geraldine had come up to town to see them in their place. The undertaking was far less formidable than it had been a year ago, for Cherry was now much more at home with her cousins.