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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesWhat Will He Do With It - Book 7 - Chapter 19
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What Will He Do With It - Book 7 - Chapter 19 Post by :Chuks52 Category :Long Stories Author :Edward Bulwer-lytton Date :May 2012 Read :2590

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What Will He Do With It - Book 7 - Chapter 19

BOOK VII CHAPTER XIX

MAN IS NOT PERMITTED, WITH ULTIMATE IMPUNITY, TO EXASPERATE THE ENVIES AND INSULT THE MISERIES OF THOSE AROUND HIM, BY A SYSTEMATIC PERSEVERANCE IN WILFUL-CELIBACY. IN VAIN MAY HE SCHEME, IN THE MARRIAGE OF INJURED FRIENDS, TO PROVIDE ARM-CHAIRS, AND FOOT-STOOLS, AND PRATTLING BABIES FOR THE LUXURIOUS DELECTATION OF HIS INDOLENT AGE. THE AVENGING EUMENIDES (BEING THEMSELVES ANCIENT VIRGINS NEGLECTED) SHALL HUMBLE HIS INSOLENCE, BAFFLE HIS PROJECTS, AND CONDEMN HIS DECLINING YEARS TO THE HORRORS OF SOLITUDE,--RARELY EVEN WAKENING HIS SOUL TO THE GRACE OF REPENTANCE.

The Colonel, before returning home, dropped into the Clubs, and took care to give to Darrell's sudden disappearance a plausible and commonplace construction. The season was just over. Darrell had gone to the country. The town establishment was broken up, because the house in Carlton Gardens was to be sold. Darrell did not like the situation--found the air relaxing--Park Lane or Grosvenor Square were on higher ground. Besides, the staircase was bad for a house of such pretensions--not suited to large parties. Next season Darrell might be in a position when he would have to give large parties, &c., &c. As no one is inclined to suppose that a man will retire from public life just when he has a chance of office, so the Clubs took Alban Morley's remarks unsuspiciously, and generally agreed that Darrell showed great tact in absenting himself from town during the transition state of politics that always precedes a CRISIS, and that it was quite clear that he calculated on playing a great part when the CRISIS was over, by finding his house had grown too small for him. Thus paving the way to Darrell's easy return to the world, should he repent of his retreat (a chance which Alban by no means dismissed from his reckoning), the Colonel returned home to find his nephew George awaiting him there. The scholarly clergyman had ensconced himself in the back drawing-room, fitted up as a library, and was making free with the books. "What have you there, George?" asked the Colonel, after shaking him by the hand. "You seemed quite absorbed in its contents, and would not have noticed my presence but for Gyp's bark."

"A volume of poems I never chanced to meet before, full of true genius."

"Bless me, poor Arthur Branthwaite's poems. And you were positively reading those--not induced to do so by respect for his father? Could you make head or tail of them?"

"There is a class of poetry which displeases middle age by the very attributes which render it charming to the young; for each generation has a youth with idiosyncrasies peculiar to itself, and a peculiar poetry by which those idiosyncrasies are expressed."

Here George was beginning to grow metaphysical, and somewhat German, when his uncle's face assumed an expression which can only be compared to that of a man who dreads a very severe and long operation. George humanely hastened to relieve his mind.

"But I will not bore you at present."

"Thank you," said the Colonel, brightening up.

"Perhaps you will lend me the book. I am going down to Lady Montfort's by-and-by, and I can read it by the way."

"Yes, I will lend it to you till next season. Let me have it again then, to put on the table when Frank Vance comes to breakfast with me. The poet was his brother-in-law; and though, for that reason, poets and poetry are a sore subject with Frank, yet the last time he breakfasted here, I felt, by the shake of his hand in parting, that he felt pleased by a mark of respect to all that is left of poor Arthur Branthwaite. So you are going to Lady Montfort? Ask her why she chits me!"

"My dear uncle! You know how secluded her life is at present; but she has charged me to assure you of her unalterable regard for you; and whenever her health and spirits are somewhat more recovered, I have no doubt that she will ask you to give her the occasion to make that assurance in person."

COLONEL MORLEY.--"Can her health and spirits continue so long affected by grief for the loss of that distant acquaintance whom the law called her husband?"

GEORGE.--"She is very far from well, and her spirits are certainly much broken. And now, uncle, for the little favour I came to ask. Since you presented me to Mr. Darrell, he kindly sent me two or three invitations to dinner, which my frequent absence from town would not allow me to accept. I ought to call on him; and, as I feel ashamed not to have done so before, I wish you would accompany me to his house. One happy word from you would save me a relapse into stutter. When I want to apologise I always stutter."

"Darrell has left town," said the Colonel, roughly, "you have missed an opportunity that will never occur again. The most charming companion; an intellect so manly, yet so sweet! I shall never find such another." And for the first time in thirty years a tear stole to Alban Morley's eye.

GEORGE.--"When did he leave town?"

COLONEL MORLEY.--"Three days ago."

GEORGE.--"Three days ago! and for the Continent again?"

COLONEL MORLEY.--"No; for the Hermitage, George. I have such a letter from him! You know how many years he has been absent from the world. When, this year, he re-appeared, he and I grew more intimate than we had ever been since we had left school; for though the same capital held us before, he was then too occupied for much familiarity with an idle man like me. But just when I was intertwining what is left of my life with the bright threads of his, he snaps the web asunder: he quits this London world again; says he will return to it no more."

GEORGE.--"Yet I did hear that he proposed to renew his parliamentary career; nay, that he was about to form a second marriage, with Honoria Vipont?"

COLONEL MORLEY.--"Mere gossip-not true. No, he will never marry again. Three days ago I thought it certain that he would--certain that I should find for my old age a nook in his home--the easiest chair in his social circle; that my daily newspaper would have a fresh interest, in the praise of his name or the report of his speech; that I should walk proudly into White's, sure to hear there of Guy Darrell; that I should keep from misanthropical rust my dry knowledge of life, planning shrewd panegyrics to him of a young happy wife, needing all his indulgence--panegyrics to her of the high-minded sensitive man, claiming tender respect and delicate soothing;--that thus, day by day, I should have made more pleasant the home in which I should have planted myself, and found in his children boys to lecture and girls to spoil. Don't be jealous, George. I like your wife, I love your little ones, and you will inherit all I have to leave. But to an old bachelor, who would keep young to the last, there is no place so sunny as the hearth of an old school-friend. But my house of cards is blown down--talk of it no more--'tis a painful subject. You met Lionel Haughton here the last time you called--how did you like him!"

"Very much indeed."

"Well, then, since you cannot call on Darrell, call on him."

GEORGE (with animation).--"It is just what I meant to do--what is his address?"

COLONEL MORLEY--"There is his card--take it. He was here last night to inquire if I knew where Darrell had gone, though no one in his household, nor I either, suspected till this morning that Darrell had left town for good. You will find Lionel at home, for I sent him word I would call. But really I am not up to it now. Tell him from me that Mr. Darrell will not return to Carlton Gardens this season, and is gone to Fawley. At present Lionel need not know more--you understand? And now, my dear George, good day."

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BOOK VII CHAPTER XVIIINO COINAGE IN CIRCULATION SO FLUCTUATES IN VALUE AS THE WORTH OF A MARRIAGEABLE MAN. Colonel Morley was not surprised (that, we know, he could not be, by any fresh experience of human waywardness and caprice), but much disturbed and much vexed by the unexpected nature of Darrell's communication. Schemes for Darrell's future lead become plans of his own. Talk with his old school-fellow had, within the last three months, entered into the pleasures of his age. Darrell's abrupt and final renunciation of this social world made at once a void in the business of Alban's mind, and
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