Chapter 21MR. PERKINS soon saw that his words had had no effect on Philip, and for the rest of the term ignored him. He wrote a report which was vitriolic. When it arrived and Aunt Louisa asked Philip what it was like, he answered cheerfully.
"Is it?" said the Vicar. "I must look at it again."
"Do you think there's any use in my staying on at Tercanbury? I should have thought it would be better if I went to Germany for a bit."
"What has put that in your head?" said Aunt Louisa.
"Don't you think it's rather a good idea?"
Sharp had already left King's School and had written to Philip from Hanover. He was really starting life, and it made Philip more restless to think of it. He felt he could not bear another year of restraint.
"But then you wouldn't get a scholarship."
"I haven't a chance of getting one anyhow. And besides, I don't know that I particularly want to go to Oxford."
"But if you're going to be ordained, Philip?" Aunt Louisa exclaimed in dismay.
"I've given up that idea long ago."
Mrs. Carey looked at him with startled eyes, and then, used to self-restraint, she poured out another cup of tea for his uncle. They did not speak. In a moment Philip saw tears slowly falling down her cheeks. His heart was suddenly wrung because he caused her pain. In her tight black dress, made by the dressmaker down the street, with her wrinkled face and pale tired eyes, her gray hair still done in the frivolous ringlets of her youth, she was a ridiculous but strangely pathetic figure. Philip saw it for the first time.
Afterwards, when the Vicar was shut up in his study with the curate, he put his arms round her waist.
"I say, I'm sorry you're upset, Aunt Louisa," he said. "But it's no good my being ordained if I haven't a real vocation, is it?"
"I'm so disappointed, Philip," she moaned. "I'd set my heart on it. I thought you could be your uncle's curate, and then when our time came--after all, we can't last for ever, can we?--you might have taken his place."
Philip shivered. He was seized with panic. His heart beat like a pigeon in a trap beating with its wings. His aunt wept softly, her head upon his shoulder.
"I wish you'd persuade Uncle William to let me leave Tercanbury. I'm so sick of it."
But the Vicar of Blackstable did not easily alter any arrangements he had made, and it had always been intended that Philip should stay at King's School till he was eighteen, and should then go to Oxford. At all events he would not hear of Philip leaving then, for no notice had been given and the term's fee would have to be paid in any case.
"Then will you give notice for me to leave at Christmas?" said Philip, at the end of a long and often bitter conversation.
"I'll write to Mr. Perkins about it and see what he says."
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