“Thank you,” said Peter Hope sarcastically. “It’s very kind of you. Perhaps when you’ve time, you’ll write me out a testimonial.”

“—up till now,” concluded the imperturbable Clodd. “A girl of eighteen wants to know something else besides mathematics and the classics. You don’t understand them.”

“I do understand them,” asserted Peter Hope. “What do you know about them? You’re not a father.”

“You’ve done your best,” admitted William Clodd in a tone of patronage that irritated Peter greatly; “but you’re a dreamer; you don’t know the world. The time is coming when the girl will have to think of a husband.”

“There’s no need for her to think of a husband, not for years,” retorted Peter Hope. “And even when she does, is strumming on the piano going to help her?”

“I tink—I tink,” said Dr. Smith, who had hitherto remained a silent listener, “our young frent Clodd is right. You haf never quite got over your idea dat she was going to be a boy. You haf taught her de tings a boy should know.”

“You cut her hair,” added Clodd.

“I don’t,” snapped Peter.

“You let her have it cut—it’s the same thing. At eighteen she knows more about the ancient Greeks and Romans than she does about her own frocks.”

“De young girl,” argued the doctor, “what is she? De flower dat makes bright for us de garden of life, de gurgling brook dat murmurs by de dusty highway, de cheerful fire——”

“She can’t be all of them,” snapped Peter, who was a stickler for style. “Do keep to one simile at a time.”

“Now you listen to plain sense,” said William Clodd. “You want—we all want—the girl to be a success all round.”

“I want her——” Peter Hope was rummaging among the litter on the desk. It certainly was not there. Peter pulled out a drawer—two drawers. “I wish,” said Peter Hope, “I wish sometimes she wasn’t quite so clever.”

The old doctor rummaged among dusty files of papers in a corner. Clodd found it on the mantelpiece concealed beneath the hollow foot of a big brass candlestick, and handed it to Peter.

Peter had one vice—the taking in increasing quantities of snuff, which was harmful for him, as he himself admitted. Tommy, sympathetic to most masculine frailties, was severe, however, upon this one.

“You spill it upon your shirt and on your coat,” had argued Tommy. “I like to see you always neat. Besides, it isn’t a nice habit. I do wish, dad, you’d give it up.”

“I must,” Peter had agreed. “I’ll break myself of it. But not all at once—it would be a wrench; by degrees, Tommy, by degrees.”

So a compromise had been compounded. Tommy was to hide the snuff-box. It was to be somewhere in the room and to be accessible, but that was all. Peter, when self-control had reached the breaking- point, might try and find it. Occasionally, luck helping Peter, he would find it early in the day, when he would earn his own bitter self-reproaches by indulging in quite an orgie. But more often Tommy’s artfulness was such that he would be compelled, by want of time, to abandon the search. Tommy always knew when he had failed by the air of indignant resignation with which he would greet her on her return. Then

  By PanEris using Melati.

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