‘Self-conceit! What is it? Self-respect, self-tolerance, even, what are they? Do you sell the articles? Do you know anybody who does? Give an indication; they would find in me a liberal chapman. I would part with my last guinea this minute to buy.’

‘Is it so with you, Robert? I find that spicy. I like a man to speak his mind. What has gone wrong?’

‘The machinery of all my nature; the whole enginery of this human mill; the boiler, which I take to be the heart, is fit to burst.’

‘That suld be putten i’ print; it’s striking. It’s almost blank verse. Ye’ll be jingling into poetry just e’now. If the afflatus comes, give way, Robert; never heed me: I’ll bear it this whet (time).’

‘Hideous, abhorrent, base blunder! You may commit in a moment what you may rue for years—what life cannot cancel.’

‘Lad, go on. I call it pie, nuts, sugar-candy. I like the taste uncommonly. Go on; it will do you good to talk; the moor is before us now, and there is no life for many a mile round.’

‘I will talk. I am not ashamed to tell. There is a sort of wild cat in my breast, and I choose that you shall hear how it can yell.’

‘To me it is music. What grand voices you and Louis have! When Louis sings—tones off like a soft, deep bell—I’ve felt myself tremble again. The night is still; it listens; it is just leaning down to you, like a black priest to a blacker penitent. Confess, lad, smooth naught down; be candid as a convicted, justified, sanctified Methody at an experience-meeting. Make yourself as wicked as Beelzebub; it will ease your mind.’

‘As mean as Mammon, you would say. Yorke, if I got off horseback and laid myself down across the road, would you have the goodness to gallop over me—backwards and forwards—about twenty times?’

‘Wi’ all the pleasure in life, if there were no such thing as a coroner’s inquest.’

‘Hiram Yorke, I certainly believed she loved me. I have seen her eyes sparkle radiantly when she has found me out in a crowd; she has flushed up crimson when she has offered me her hand and said, “How do you do, Mr. Moore?”

‘My name had a magical influence over her; when others uttered it, she changed countenance—I know she did. She pronounced it herself in the most musical of her many musical tones. She was cordial to me; she took an interest in me, she was anxious about me, she wished me well, she sought, she seized every opportunity to benefit me. I considered, paused, watched, weighed, wondered; I could come to but one conclusion —this is love.

‘I looked at her, Yorke; I saw, in her, youth and a species of beauty. I saw power in her. Her wealth offered me the redemption of my honour and my standing. I owed her gratitude. She had aided me substantially and effectually by a loan of five thousand pounds. Could I remember these things? Could I believe she loved me? Could I hear wisdom urge me to marry her, and disregard every dear advantage, disbelieve every flattering suggestion, disdain every well-weighed counsel, turn and leave her? Young, graceful, gracious—my benefactress, attached to me, enamoured of me—I used to say so to myself; dwell on the word; mouth it over and over again; swell over it with a pleasant, pompous complacency—with an admiration dedicated entirely to myself, and unimpaired even by esteem for her; indeed, I smiled in deep secrecy at her naïveté, and simplicity, in being the first to love, and to show it. That whip of yours seems to have a good heavy handle, Yorke; you can swing it about your head and knock me out of the saddle, if you choose. I should rather relish a loundering whack.’

  By PanEris using Melati.

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