and limited to that extent, might not be more endurable than the unlimited monotony of one’s fellow- creatures.”

As Lightwood laughed and passed the wine, he remarked, “We shall have an opportunity, in our boating summer, of trying the question.”

“An imperfect one,” Eugene acquiesced, with a sigh, “but so we shall. I hope we may not prove too much for one another.”

“Now, regarding your respected father,” said Lightwood, bringing him to a subject they had expressly appointed to discuss: always the most slippery eel of eels of subjects to lay hold of.

“Yes, regarding my respected father,” assented Eugene, settling himself in his arm-chair. “I would rather have approached my respected father by candlelight, as a theme requiring a little artificial brilliancy; but we will take him by twilight, enlivened with a glow of Wallsend.”

He stirred the fire again as he spoke, and having made it blaze, resumed.

“My respected father has found, down in the parental neighbourhood, a wife for his not-generally-respected son.”

“With some money, of course?”

“With some money, of course, or he would not have found her. My respected father — let me shorten the dutiful tautology by substituting in future M. R. F., which sounds military, and rather like the Duke of Wellington.”

“What an absurd fellow you are, Eugene!”

“Not at all, I assure you. M. R. F. having always in the clearest manner provided (as he calls it) for his children by pre-arranging from the hour of the birth of each, and sometimes from an earlier period, what the devoted little victim’s calling and course in life should be, M. R. F. pre-arranged for myself that I was to be the barrister I am (with the slight addition of an enormous practice, which has not accrued), and also the married man I am not.”

“The first you have often told me.”

“The first I have often told you. Considering myself sufficiently incongruous on my legal eminence, I have until now suppressed my domestic destiny. You know M. R. F., but not as well as I do. If you knew him as well as I do, he would amuse you.”

“Filially spoken, Eugene!”

“Perfectly so, believe me; and with every sentiment of affectionate deference towards M. R. F. But if he amuses me, I can’t help it. When my eldest brother was born, of course the rest of us knew (I mean the rest of us would have known, if we had been in existence) that he was heir to the Family Embarrassments — we call it before the company the Family Estate. But when my second brother was going to be born by-and-by, ‘this,’ says M. R. F., ‘is a little pillar of the church.’ Was born, and became a pillar of the church; a very shaky one. My third brother appeared, considerably in advance of his engagement to my mother; but M. R. F., not at all put out by surprise, instantly declared him a Circumnavigator. Was pitch- forked into the Navy, but has not circumnavigated. I announced myself, and was disposed of with the highly satisfactory results embodied before you. When my younger brother was half an hour old, it was settled by M. R. F. that he should have a mechanical genius. And so on. Therefore I say that M. R. F. amuses me.”

“Touching the lady, Eugene.”

  By PanEris using Melati.

Previous chapter/page Back Home Email this Search Discuss Bookmark Next chapter/page
Copyright: All texts on Bibliomania are © Ltd, and may not be reproduced in any form without our written permission. See our FAQ for more details.