Without thinking that her husband disliked being wakened suddenly, she burst into the drawing-room.
"William, William," she said. "The boy's crying as though his heart would break."
Mr. Carey sat up and disentangled himself from the rug about his legs.
"What's he got to cry about?"
"I don't know.... Oh, William, we can't let the boy be unhappy. D'you think it's our fault? If we'd had children we'd have known what to do."
Mr. Carey looked at her in perplexity. He felt extraordinarily helpless.
"He can't be crying because I gave him the collect to learn. It's not more than ten lines."
"Don't you think I might take him some picture books to look at, William? There are some of the Holy Land. There couldn't be anything wrong in that."
"Very well, I don't mind."
Mrs. Carey went into the study. To collect books was Mr. Carey's only passion, and he never went into Tercanbury without spending an hour or two in the second-hand shop; he always brought back four or five musty volumes. He never read them, for he had long lost the habit of reading, but he liked to turn the pages, look at the illustrations if they were illustrated, and mend the bindings. He welcomed wet days because on them he could stay at home without pangs of conscience and spend the afternoon with white of egg and a glue-pot, patching up the Russia leather of some battered quarto. He had many volumes of old travels, with steel engravings, and Mrs. Carey quickly found two which described Palestine. She coughed elaborately at the door so that Philip should have time to compose himself, she felt that he would be humiliated if she came upon him in the midst of his tears, then she rattled the door handle. When she went in Philip was poring over the prayer-book, hiding his eyes with his hands so that she might not see he had been crying.
"Do you know the collect yet?" she said.
He did not answer for a moment, and she felt that he did not trust his voice. She was oddly embarrassed.
"I can't learn it by heart," he said at last, with a gasp.
"Oh, well, never mind," she said. "You needn't. I've got some picture books for you to look at. Come and sit on my lap, and we'll look at them together."
Philip slipped off his chair and limped over to her. He looked down so that she should not see his eyes. She put her arms round him.
"Look," she said, "that's the place where our blessed Lord was born."
She showed him an Eastern town with flat roofs and cupolas and minarets. In the foreground was a group of palm-trees, and under them were resting two Arabs and some camels. Philip passed his hand over the picture as if he wanted to feel the houses and the loose habiliments of the nomads.
"Read what it says," he asked.
Mrs. Carey in her even voice read the opposite page. It was a romantic narrative of some Eastern traveller of the thirties, pompous maybe, but fragrant with the emotion with which the East came to the generation that followed Byron and Chateaubriand. In a moment or two Philip interrupted her.
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