"Oh, I wish to goodness I were twenty-one. It is awful to be at Somebody else's beck and call."
"Philip, you shouldn't speak to your uncle like that," said Mrs. Carey gently.
"But don't you see that Perkins will want me to stay? He gets so much a head for every chap in the school."
"Why don't you want to go to Oxford?"
"What's the good if I'm not going into the Church?"
"You can't go into the Church: you're in the Church already," said the Vicar.
"Ordained then," replied Philip impatiently.
"What are you going to be, Philip?" asked Mrs. Carey.
"I don't know. I've not made up my mind. But whatever I am, it'll be useful to know foreign languages. I shall get far more out of a year in Germany than by staying on at that hole."
He would not say that he felt Oxford would be little better than a continuation of his life at school. He wished immensely to be his own master. Besides he would be known to a certain extent among old schoolfellows, and he wanted to get away from them all. He felt that his life at school had been a failure. He wanted to start fresh.
It happened that his desire to go to Germany fell in with certain ideas which had been of late discussed at Blackstable. Sometimes friends came to stay with the doctor and brought news of the world outside; and the visitors spending August by the sea had their own way of looking at things. The Vicar had heard that there were people who did not think the old-fashioned education so useful nowadays as it had been in the past, and modern languages were gaining an importance which they had not had in his own youth. His own mind was divided, for a younger brother of his had been sent to Germany when he failed in some examination, thus creating a precedent but since he had there died of typhoid it was impossible to look upon the experiment as other than dangerous. The result of innumerable conversations was that Philip should go back to Tercanbury for another term, and then should leave. With this agreement Philip was not dissatisfied. But when he had been back a few days the headmaster spoke to him.
"I've had a letter from your uncle. It appears you want to go to Germany, and he asks me what I think about it."
Philip was astounded. He was furious with his guardian for going back on his word.
"I thought it was settled, sir," he said.
"Far from it. I've written to say I think it the greatest mistake to take you away."
Philip immediately sat down and wrote a violent letter to his uncle. He did not measure his language. He was so angry that he could not get to sleep till quite late that night, and he awoke in the early morning and began brooding over the way they had treated him. He waited impatiently for an answer. In two or three days it came. It was a mild, pained letter from Aunt Louisa, saying that he should not write such things to his uncle, who was very much distressed. He was unkind and unchristian. He must know they were only trying to do their best for him, and they were so much older than he that they must be better judges of what was good for him. Philip clenched his hands. He had heard that statement so often, and he could not see why it was true; they did not know the conditions as he did, why should they accept it as self-evident that their greater age gave them greater wisdom? The letter ended with the information that Mr. Carey had withdrawn the notice he had given.
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