Meet us on:
Welcome to Read Print! Sign in with
or
to get started!
 
Entire Site
    Try our fun game

    Dueling book covers…may the best design win!

    Random Quote
    "The secret of greatness is simple: do better work than any other man in your field - and keep on doing it."
     

    Subscribe to Our Newsletter

    Follow us on Twitter

    Never miss a good book again! Follow Read Print on Twitter

    George Silverman's Explanation

    by Charles Dickens
    • Rate it:
    • 1 Favorite on Read Print
    Launch Reading Mode
    FIRST CHAPTER

    IT happened in this wise -

    But, sitting with my pen in my hand looking at those words again,
    without descrying any hint in them of the words that should follow,
    it comes into my mind that they have an abrupt appearance. They
    may serve, however, if I let them remain, to suggest how very
    difficult I find it to begin to explain my explanation. An uncouth
    phrase: and yet I do not see my way to a better.

    SECOND CHAPTER

    IT happened in THIS wise -

    But, looking at those words, and comparing them with my former
    opening, I find they are the self-same words repeated. This is the
    more surprising to me, because I employ them in quite a new
    connection. For indeed I declare that my intention was to discard
    the commencement I first had in my thoughts, and to give the
    preference to another of an entirely different nature, dating my
    explanation from an anterior period of my life. I will make a
    third trial, without erasing this second failure, protesting that
    it is not my design to conceal any of my infirmities, whether they
    be of head or heart.

    THIRD CHAPTER

    NOT as yet directly aiming at how it came to pass, I will come upon
    it by degrees. The natural manner, after all, for God knows that
    is how it came upon me.

    My parents were in a miserable condition of life, and my infant
    home was a cellar in Preston. I recollect the sound of father's
    Lancashire clogs on the street pavement above, as being different
    in my young hearing from the sound of all other clogs; and I
    recollect, that, when mother came down the cellar-steps, I used
    tremblingly to speculate on her feet having a good or an ill-
    tempered look, - on her knees, - on her waist, - until finally her
    face came into view, and settled the question. From this it will
    be seen that I was timid, and that the cellar-steps were steep, and
    that the doorway was very low.

    Mother had the gripe and clutch of poverty upon her face, upon her
    figure, and not least of all upon her voice. Her sharp and high-
    pitched words were squeezed out of her, as by the compression of
    bony fingers on a leathern bag; and she had a way of rolling her
    eyes about and about the cellar, as she scolded, that was gaunt and
    hungry. Father, with his shoulders rounded, would sit quiet on a
    three-legged stool, looking at the empty grate, until she would
    pluck the stool from under him, and bid him go bring some money
    home. Then he would dismally ascend the steps; and I, holding my
    ragged shirt and trousers together with a hand (my only braces),
    would feint and dodge from mother's pursuing grasp at my hair.

    A worldly little devil was mother's usual name for me. Whether I
    cried for that I was in the dark, or for that it was cold, or for
    that I was hungry, or whether I squeezed myself into a warm corner
    when there was a fire, or ate voraciously when there was food, she
    would still say, 'O, you worldly little devil!' And the sting of
    it was, that I quite well knew myself to be a worldly little devil.
    Worldly as to wanting to be housed and warmed, worldly as to
    wanting to be fed, worldly as to the greed with which I inwardly
    compared how much I got of those good things with how much father
    and mother got, when, rarely, those good things were going.

    Sometimes they both went away seeking work; and then I would be
    locked up in the cellar for a day or two at a time. I was at my
    worldliest then. Left alone, I yielded myself up to a worldly
    yearning for enough of anything (except misery), and for the death
    of mother's father, who was a machine-maker at Birmingham, and on
    whose decease, I had heard mother say, she would come into a whole
    courtful of houses 'if she had her rights.' Worldly little devil,
    I would stand about, musingly fitting my cold bare feet into
    cracked bricks and crevices of the damp cellar-floor, - walking
    over my grandfather's body, so to speak, into the courtful of
    houses, and selling them for meat and drink, and clothes to wear.

    At last a change came down into our cellar. The universal change
    came down even as low as that, - so will it mount to any height on
    which a human creature can perch, - and brought other changes with
    it.

    We had a heap of I don't know what foul litter in the darkest
    corner, which we called 'the bed.' For three days mother lay upon
    it without getting up, and then began at times to laugh. If I had
    ever heard her laugh before, it had been so seldom that the strange
    sound frightened me. It frightened father too; and we took it by
    turns to give her water. Then she began to move her head from side
    to side, and sing. After that, she getting no better, father fell
    a-laughing and a-singing; and then there was only I to give them
    both water, and they both died.

    FOURTH CHAPTER

    WHEN I was lifted out of the cellar by two men, of whom one came
    peeping down alone first, and ran away and brought the other, I
    could hardly bear the light of the street. I was sitting in the
    road-way, blinking at it, and at a ring of people collected around
    me, but not close to me, when, true to my character of worldly
    little devil, I broke silence by saying, 'I am hungry and thirsty!'

    'Does he know they are dead?' asked one of another.

    'Do you know your father and mother are both dead of fever?' asked
    a third of me severely.

    'I don't know what it is to be dead. I supposed it meant that,
    when the cup rattled against their teeth, and the water spilt over
    them. I am hungry and thirsty.' That was all I had to say about
    it.

    The ring of people widened outward from the inner side as I looked
    around me; and I smelt vinegar, and what I know to be camphor,
    thrown in towards where I sat. Presently some one put a great
    vessel of smoking vinegar on the ground near me; and then they all
    looked at me in silent horror as I ate and drank of what was
    brought for me. I knew at the time they had a horror of me, but I
    couldn't help it.

    I was still eating and drinking, and a murmur of discussion had
    begun to arise respecting what was to be done with me next, when I
    heard a cracked voice somewhere in the ring say, 'My name is
    Hawkyard, Mr. Verity Hawkyard, of West Bromwich.' Then the ring
    split in one place; and a yellow-faced, peak-nosed gentleman, clad
    all in iron-gray to his gaiters, pressed forward with a policeman
    and another official of some sort. He came forward close to the
    vessel of smoking vinegar; from which he sprinkled himself
    carefully, and me copiously.

    'He had a grandfather at Birmingham, this young boy, who is just
    dead too,' said Mr. Hawkyard.

    I turned my eyes upon the speaker, and said in a ravening manner,
    'Where's his houses?'

    'Hah! Horrible worldliness on the edge of the grave,' said Mr.
    Hawkyard, casting more of the vinegar over me, as if to get my
    devil out of me. 'I have undertaken a slight - a very slight -
    trust in behalf of this boy; quite a voluntary trust: a matter of
    mere honour, if not of mere sentiment: still I have taken it upon
    myself, and it shall be (O, yes, it shall be!) discharged.'

    The bystanders seemed to form an opinion of this gentleman much
    more favourable than their opinion of me.

    'He shall be taught,' said Mr. Hawkyard, '(O, yes, he shall be
    taught!) but what is to be done with him for the present? He may
    be infected. He may disseminate infection.' The ring widened
    considerably. 'What is to be done with him?'

    He held some talk with the two officials. I could distinguish no
    word save 'Farm-house.' There was another sound several times
    repeated, which was wholly meaningless in my ears then, but which I
    knew afterwards to be 'Hoghton Towers.'

    'Yes,' said Mr. Hawkyard. 'I think that sounds promising; I think
    that sounds hopeful. And he can be put by himself in a ward, for a
    night or two, you say?'

    It seemed to be the police-officer who had said so; for it was he
    who replied, Yes! It was he, too, who finally took me by the arm,
    and walked me before him through the streets, into a whitewashed
    room in a bare building, where I had a chair to sit in, a table to
    sit at, an iron bedstead and good mattress to lie upon, and a rug
    and blanket to cover me. Where I had enough to eat too, and was
    shown how to clean the tin porringer in which it was conveyed to
    me, until it was as good as a looking-glass. Here, likewise, I was
    put in a bath, and had new clothes brought to me; and my old rags
    were burnt, and I was camphored and vinegared and disinfected in a
    variety of ways.

    When all this was done, - I don't know in how many days or how few,
    but it matters not, - Mr. Hawkyard stepped in at the door,
    remaining close to it, and said, 'Go and stand against the opposite
    wall, George Silverman. As far off as you can. That'll do. How
    do you feel?'

    I told him that I didn't feel cold, and didn't feel hungry, and
    didn't feel thirsty. That was the whole round of human feelings,
    as far as I knew, except the pain of being beaten.

    'Well,' said he, 'you are going, George, to a healthy farm-house to
    be purified. Keep in the air there as much as you can. Live an
    out-of-door life there, until you are fetched away. You had better
    not say much - in fact, you had better be very careful not to say
    anything - about what your parents died of, or they might not like
    to take you in. Behave well, and I'll put you to school; O, yes!
    I'll put you to school, though I'm not obligated to do it. I am a
    servant of the Lord, George; and I have been a good servant to him,
    I have, these five-and-thirty years. The Lord has had a good
    servant in me, and he knows it.'

    What I then supposed him to mean by this, I cannot imagine. As
    little do I know when I began to comprehend that he was a prominent
    member of some obscure denomination or congregation, every member
    of which held forth to the rest when so inclined, and among whom he
    was called Brother Hawkyard. It was enough for me to know, on that
    day in the ward, that the farmer's cart was waiting for me at the
    street corner. I was not slow to get into it; for it was the first
    ride I ever had in my life.

    It made me sleepy, and I slept. First, I stared at Preston streets
    as long as they lasted; and, meanwhile, I may have had some small
    dumb wondering within me whereabouts our cellar was; but I doubt
    it. Such a worldly little devil was I, that I took no thought who
    would bury father and mother, or where they would be buried, or
    when. The question whether the eating and drinking by day, and the
    covering by night, would be as good at the farm-house as at the
    ward superseded those questions.

    The jolting of the cart on a loose stony road awoke me; and I found
    that we were mounting a steep hill, where the road was a rutty by-
    road through a field. And so, by fragments of an ancient terrace,
    and by some rugged outbuildings that had once been fortified, and
    passing under a ruined gateway we came to the old farm-house in the
    thick stone wall outside the old quadrangle of Hoghton Towers:
    which I looked at like a stupid savage, seeing no specially in,
    seeing no antiquity in; assuming all farm-houses to resemble it;
    assigning the decay I noticed to the one potent cause of all ruin
    that I knew, - poverty; eyeing the pigeons in their flights, the
    cattle in their stalls, the ducks in the pond, and the fowls
    pecking about the yard, with a hungry hope that plenty of them
    might be killed for dinner while I stayed there; wondering whether
    the scrubbed dairy vessels, drying in the sunlight, could be goodly
    porringers out of which the master ate his belly-filling food, and
    which he polished when he had done, according to my ward
    experience; shrinkingly doubtful whether the shadows, passing over
    that airy height on the bright spring day, were not something in
    the nature of frowns, - sordid, afraid, unadmiring, - a small brute
    to shudder at.

    To that time I had never had the faintest impression of duty. I
    had had no knowledge whatever that there was anything lovely in
    this life. When I had occasionally slunk up the cellar-steps into
    the street, and glared in at shop-windows, I had done so with no
    higher feelings than we may suppose to animate a mangy young dog or
    wolf-cub. It is equally the fact that I had never been alone, in
    the sense of holding unselfish converse with myself. I had been
    solitary often enough, but nothing better.

    Such was my condition when I sat down to my dinner that day, in the
    kitchen of the old farm-house. Such was my condition when I lay on
    my bed in the old farm-house that night, stretched out opposite the
    narrow mullioned window, in the cold light of the moon, like a
    young vampire.

    FIFTH CHAPTER

    WHAT do I know of Hoghton Towers? Very little; for I have been
    gratefully unwilling to disturb my first impressions. A house,
    centuries old, on high ground a mile or so removed from the road
    between Preston and Blackburn, where the first James of England, in
    his hurry to make money by making baronets, perhaps made some of
    those remunerative dignitaries. A house, centuries old, deserted
    and falling to pieces, its woods and gardens long since grass-land
    or ploughed up, the Rivers Ribble and Darwen glancing below it, and
    a vague haze of smoke, against which not even the supernatural
    prescience of the first Stuart could foresee a counter-blast,
    hinting at steam-power, powerful in two distances.

    What did I know then of Hoghton Towers? When I first peeped in at
    the gate of the lifeless quadrangle, and started from the
    mouldering statue becoming visible to me like its guardian ghost;
    when I stole round by the back of the farm-house, and got in among
    the ancient rooms, many of them with their floors and ceilings
    falling, the beams and rafters hanging dangerously down, the
    plaster dropping as I trod, the oaken panels stripped away, the
    windows half walled up, half broken; when I discovered a gallery
    commanding the old kitchen, and looked down between balustrades
    upon a massive old table and benches, fearing to see I know not
    what dead-alive creatures come in and seat themselves, and look up
    with I know not what dreadful eyes, or lack of eyes, at me; when
    all over the house I was awed by gaps and chinks where the sky
    stared sorrowfully at me, where the birds passed, and the ivy
    rustled, and the stains of winter weather blotched the rotten
    floors; when down at the bottom of dark pits of staircase, into
    which the stairs had sunk, green leaves trembled, butterflies
    fluttered, and bees hummed in and out through the broken door-ways;
    when encircling the whole ruin were sweet scents, and sights of
    fresh green growth, and ever-renewing life, that I had never
    dreamed of, - I say, when I passed into such clouded perception of
    these things as my dark soul could compass, what did I know then of
    Hoghton Towers?

    I have written that the sky stared sorrowfully at me. Therein have
    I anticipated the answer. I knew that all these things looked
    sorrowfully at me; that they seemed to sigh or whisper, not without
    pity for me, 'Alas! poor worldly little devil!'

    There were two or three rats at the bottom of one of the smaller
    pits of broken staircase when I craned over and looked in. They
    were scuffling for some prey that was there; and, when they started
    and hid themselves close together in the dark, I thought of the old
    life (it had grown old already) in the cellar.

    How not to be this worldly little devil? how not to have a
    repugnance towards myself as I had towards the rats? I hid in a
    corner of one of the smaller chambers, frightened at myself, and
    crying (it was the first time I had ever cried for any cause not
    purely physical), and I tried to think about it. One of the farm-
    ploughs came into my range of view just then; and it seemed to help
    me as it went on with its two horses up and down the field so
    peacefully and quietly.

    There was a girl of about my own age in the farm-house family, and
    she sat opposite to me at the narrow table at meal-times. It had
    come into my mind, at our first dinner, that she might take the
    fever from me. The thought had not disquieted me then. I had only
    speculated how she would look under the altered circumstances, and
    whether she would die. But it came into my mind now, that I might
    try to prevent her taking the fever by keeping away from her. I
    knew I should have but scrambling board if I did; so much the less
    worldly and less devilish the deed would be, I thought.

    From that hour, I withdrew myself at early morning into secret
    corners of the ruined house, and remained hidden there until she
    went to bed. At first, when meals were ready, I used to hear them
    calling me; and then my resolution weakened. But I strengthened it
    again by going farther off into the ruin, and getting out of
    hearing. I often watched for her at the dim windows; and, when I
    saw that she was fresh and rosy, felt much happier.

    Out of this holding her in my thoughts, to the humanising of
    myself, I suppose some childish love arose within me. I felt, in
    some sort, dignified by the pride of protecting her, - by the pride
    of making the sacrifice for her. As my heart swelled with that new
    feeling, it insensibly softened about mother and father. It seemed
    to have been frozen before, and now to be thawed. The old ruin and
    all the lovely things that haunted it were not sorrowful for me
    only, but sorrowful for mother and father as well. Therefore did I
    cry again, and often too.

    The farm-house family conceived me to be of a morose temper, and
    were very short with me; though they never stinted me in such
    broken fare as was to be got out of regular hours. One night when
    I lifted the kitchen latch at my usual time, Sylvia (that was her
    pretty name) had but just gone out of the room. Seeing her
    ascending the opposite stairs, I stood still at the door. She had
    heard the clink of the latch, and looked round.

    'George,' she called to me in a pleased voice, 'to-morrow is my
    birthday; and we are to have a fiddler, and there's a party of boys
    and girls coming in a cart, and we shall dance. I invite you. Be
    sociable for once, George.'

    'I am very sorry, miss,' I answered; 'but I - but, no; I can't
    come.'

    'You are a disagreeable, ill-humoured lad,' she returned
    disdainfully; 'and I ought not to have asked you. I shall never
    speak to you again.'

    As I stood with my eyes fixed on the fire, after she was gone, I
    felt that the farmer bent his brows upon me.

    'Eh, lad!' said he; 'Sylvy's right. You're as moody and broody a
    lad as never I set eyes on yet.'

    I tried to assure him that I meant no harm; but he only said
    coldly, 'Maybe not, maybe not! There, get thy supper, get thy
    supper; and then thou canst sulk to thy heart's content again.'

    Ah! if they could have seen me next day, in the ruin, watching for
    the arrival of the cart full of merry young guests; if they could
    have seen me at night, gliding out from behind the ghostly statue,
    listening to the music and the fall of dancing feet, and watching
    the lighted farm-house windows from the quadrangle when all the
    ruin was dark; if they could have read my heart, as I crept up to
    bed by the back way, comforting myself with the reflection, 'They
    will take no hurt from me,' - they would not have thought mine a
    morose or an unsocial nature.

    It was in these ways that I began to form a shy disposition; to be
    of a timidly silent character under misconstruction; to have an
    inexpressible, perhaps a morbid, dread of ever being sordid or
    worldly. It was in these ways that my nature came to shape itself
    to such a mould, even before it was affected by the influences of
    the studious and retired life of a poor scholar.

    SIXTH CHAPTER

    BROTHER HAWKYARD (as he insisted on my calling him) put me to
    school, and told me to work my way. 'You are all right, George,'
    he said. 'I have been the best servant the Lord has had in his
    service for this five-and-thirty year (O, I have!); and he knows
    the value of such a servant as I have been to him (O, yes, he
    does!); and he'll prosper your schooling as a part of my reward.
    That's what HE'll do, George. He'll do it for me.'

    From the first I could not like this familiar knowledge of the ways
    of the sublime, inscrutable Almighty, on Brother Hawkyard's part.
    As I grew a little wiser, and still a little wiser, I liked it less
    and less. His manner, too, of confirming himself in a parenthesis,
    - as if, knowing himself, he doubted his own word, - I found
    distasteful. I cannot tell how much these dislikes cost me; for I
    had a dread that they were worldly.

    As time went on, I became a Foundation-boy on a good foundation,
    and I cost Brother Hawkyard nothing. When I had worked my way so
    far, I worked yet harder, in the hope of ultimately getting a
    presentation to college and a fellowship. My health has never been
    strong (some vapour from the Preston cellar cleaves to me, I
    think); and what with much work and some weakness, I came again to
    be regarded - that is, by my fellow-students - as unsocial.

    All through my time as a foundation-boy, I was within a few miles
    of Brother Hawkyard's congregation; and whenever I was what we
    called a leave-boy on a Sunday, I went over there at his desire.
    Before the knowledge became forced upon me that outside their place
    of meeting these brothers and sisters were no better than the rest
    of the human family, but on the whole were, to put the case mildly,
    as bad as most, in respect of giving short weight in their shops,
    and not speaking the truth, - I say, before this knowledge became
    forced upon me, their prolix addresses, their inordinate conceit,
    their daring ignorance, their investment of the Supreme Ruler of
    heaven and earth with their own miserable meannesses and
    littlenesses, greatly shocked me. Still, as their term for the
    frame of mind that could not perceive them to be in an exalted
    state of grace was the 'worldly' state, I did for a time suffer
    tortures under my inquiries of myself whether that young worldly-
    devilish spirit of mine could secretly be lingering at the bottom
    of my non-appreciation.

    Brother Hawkyard was the popular expounder in this assembly, and
    generally occupied the platform (there was a little platform with a
    table on it, in lieu of a pulpit) first, on a Sunday afternoon. He
    was by trade a drysalter. Brother Gimblet, an elderly man with a
    crabbed face, a large dog's-eared shirt-collar, and a spotted blue
    neckerchief reaching up behind to the crown of his head, was also a
    drysalter and an expounder. Brother Gimblet professed the greatest
    admiration for Brother Hawkyard, but (I had thought more than once)
    bore him a jealous grudge.

    Let whosoever may peruse these lines kindly take the pains here to
    read twice my solemn pledge, that what I write of the language and
    customs of the congregation in question I write scrupulously,
    literally, exactly, from the life and the truth.

    On the first Sunday after I had won what I had so long tried for,
    and when it was certain that I was going up to college, Brother
    Hawkyard concluded a long exhortation thus:

    'Well, my friends and fellow-sinners, now I told you when I began,
    that I didn't know a word of what I was going to say to you (and
    no, I did not!), but that it was all one to me, because I knew the
    Lord would put into my mouth the words I wanted.'

    ('That's it!' from Brother Gimblet.)

    'And he did put into my mouth the words I wanted.'

    ('So he did!' from Brother Gimblet.)

    'And why?'

    ('Ah, let's have that!' from Brother Gimblet.)

    'Because I have been his faithful servant for five-and-thirty
    years, and because he knows it. For five-and-thirty years! And he
    knows it, mind you! I got those words that I wanted on account of
    my wages. I got 'em from the Lord, my fellow-sinners. Down! I
    said, "Here's a heap of wages due; let us have something down, on
    account." And I got it down, and I paid it over to you; and you
    won't wrap it up in a napkin, nor yet in a towel, nor yet
    pocketankercher, but you'll put it out at good interest. Very
    well. Now, my brothers and sisters and fellow-sinners, I am going
    to conclude with a question, and I'll make it so plain (with the
    help of the Lord, after five-and-thirty years, I should rather
    hope!) as that the Devil shall not be able to confuse it in your
    heads, - which he would be overjoyed to do.'

    ('Just his way. Crafty old blackguard!' from Brother Gimblet.)

    'And the question is this, Are the angels learned?'

    ('Not they. Not a bit on it!' from Brother Gimblet, with the
    greatest confidence.)

    'Not they. And where's the proof? sent ready-made by the hand of
    the Lord. Why, there's one among us here now, that has got all the
    learning that can be crammed into him. I got him all the learning
    that could be crammed into him. His grandfather' (this I had never
    heard before) 'was a brother of ours. He was Brother Parksop.
    That's what he was. Parksop; Brother Parksop. His worldly name
    was Parksop, and he was a brother of this brotherhood. Then wasn't
    he Brother Parksop?'

    ('Must be. Couldn't help hisself!' from Brother Gimblet.)

    'Well, he left that one now here present among us to the care of a
    brother-sinner of his (and that brother-sinner, mind you, was a
    sinner of a bigger size in his time than any of you; praise the
    Lord!), Brother Hawkyard. Me. I got him without fee or reward, -
    without a morsel of myrrh, or frankincense, nor yet amber, letting
    alone the honeycomb, - all the learning that could be crammed into
    him. Has it brought him into our temple, in the spirit? No. Have
    we had any ignorant brothers and sisters that didn't know round O
    from crooked S, come in among us meanwhile? Many. Then the angels
    are NOT learned; then they don't so much as know their alphabet.
    And now, my friends and fellow-sinners, having brought it to that,
    perhaps some brother present - perhaps you, Brother Gimblet - will
    pray a bit for us?'

    Brother Gimblet undertook the sacred function, after having drawn
    his sleeve across his mouth, and muttered, 'Well! I don't know as
    I see my way to hitting any of you quite in the right place
    neither.' He said this with a dark smile, and then began to
    bellow. What we were specially to be preserved from, according to
    his solicitations, was, despoilment of the orphan, suppression of
    testamentary intentions on the part of a father or (say)
    grandfather, appropriation of the orphan's house-property, feigning
    to give in charity to the wronged one from whom we withheld his
    due; and that class of sins. He ended with the petition, 'Give us
    peace!' which, speaking for myself, was very much needed after
    twenty minutes of his bellowing.

    Even though I had not seen him when he rose from his knees,
    steaming with perspiration, glance at Brother Hawkyard, and even
    though I had not heard Brother Hawkyard's tone of congratulating
    him on the vigour with which he had roared, I should have detected
    a malicious application in this prayer. Unformed suspicions to a
    similar effect had sometimes passed through my mind in my earlier
    school-days, and had always caused me great distress; for they were
    worldly in their nature, and wide, very wide, of the spirit that
    had drawn me from Sylvia. They were sordid suspicions, without a
    shadow of proof. They were worthy to have originated in the
    unwholesome cellar. They were not only without proof, but against
    proof; for was I not myself a living proof of what Brother Hawkyard
    had done? and without him, how should I ever have seen the sky look
    sorrowfully down upon that wretched boy at Hoghton Towers?

    Although the dread of a relapse into a stage of savage selfishness
    was less strong upon me as I approached manhood, and could act in
    an increased degree for myself, yet I was always on my guard
    against any tendency to such relapse. After getting these
    suspicions under my feet, I had been troubled by not being able to
    like Brother Hawkyard's manner, or his professed religion. So it
    came about, that, as I walked back that Sunday evening, I thought
    it would be an act of reparation for any such injury my struggling
    thoughts had unwillingly done him, if I wrote, and placed in his
    hands, before going to college, a full acknowledgment of his
    goodness to me, and an ample tribute of thanks. It might serve as
    an implied vindication of him against any dark scandal from a rival
    brother and expounder, or from any other quarter.

    Accordingly, I wrote the document with much care. I may add with
    much feeling too; for it affected me as I went on. Having no set
    studies to pursue, in the brief interval between leaving the
    Foundation and going to Cambridge, I determined to walk out to his
    place of business, and give it into his own hands.

    It was a winter afternoon, when I tapped at the door of his little
    counting-house, which was at the farther end of his long, low shop.
    As I did so (having entered by the back yard, where casks and boxes
    were taken in, and where there was the inscription, 'Private way to
    the counting-house'), a shopman called to me from the counter that
    he was engaged.

    'Brother Gimblet' (said the shopman, who was one of the
    brotherhood) 'is with him.'

    I thought this all the better for my purpose, and made bold to tap
    again. They were talking in a low tone, and money was passing; for
    I heard it being counted out.

    'Who is it?' asked Brother Hawkyard, sharply.

    'George Silverman,' I answered, holding the door open. 'May I come
    in?'

    Both brothers seemed so astounded to see me that I felt shyer than
    usual. But they looked quite cadaverous in the early gaslight, and
    perhaps that accidental circumstance exaggerated the expression of
    their faces.

    'What is the matter?' asked Brother Hawkyard.

    'Ay! what is the matter?' asked Brother Gimblet.

    'Nothing at all,' I said, diffidently producing my document: 'I am
    only the bearer of a letter from myself.'

    'From yourself, George?' cried Brother Hawkyard.

    'And to you,' said I.

    'And to me, George?'

    He turned paler, and opened it hurriedly; but looking over it, and
    seeing generally what it was, became less hurried, recovered his
    colour, and said, 'Praise the Lord!'

    'That's it!' cried Brother Gimblet. 'Well put! Amen.'

    Brother Hawkyard then said, in a livelier strain, 'You must know,
    George, that Brother Gimblet and I are going to make our two
    businesses one. We are going into partnership. We are settling it
    now. Brother Gimblet is to take one clear half of the profits (O,
    yes! he shall have it; he shall have it to the last farthing).'

    'D.V.!' said Brother Gimblet, with his right fist firmly clinched
    on his right leg.

    'There is no objection,' pursued Brother Hawkyard, 'to my reading
    this aloud, George?'

    As it was what I expressly desired should be done, after
    yesterday's prayer, I more than readily begged him to read it
    aloud. He did so; and Brother Gimblet listened with a crabbed
    smile.

    'It was in a good hour that I came here,' he said, wrinkling up his
    eyes. 'It was in a good hour, likewise, that I was moved yesterday
    to depict for the terror of evil-doers a character the direct
    opposite of Brother Hawkyard's. But it was the Lord that done it:
    I felt him at it while I was perspiring.'

    After that it was proposed by both of them that I should attend the
    congregation once more before my final departure. What my shy
    reserve would undergo, from being expressly preached at and prayed
    at, I knew beforehand. But I reflected that it would be for the
    last time, and that it might add to the weight of my letter. It
    was well known to the brothers and sisters that there was no place
    taken for me in THEIR paradise; and if I showed this last token of
    deference to Brother Hawkyard, notoriously in despite of my own
    sinful inclinations, it might go some little way in aid of my
    statement that he had been good to me, and that I was grateful to
    him. Merely stipulating, therefore, that no express endeavour
    should be made for my conversion, - which would involve the rolling
    of several brothers and sisters on the floor, declaring that they
    felt all their sins in a heap on their left side, weighing so many
    pounds avoirdupois, as I knew from what I had seen of those
    repulsive mysteries, - I promised.

    Since the reading of my letter, Brother Gimblet had been at
    intervals wiping one eye with an end of his spotted blue
    neckerchief, and grinning to himself. It was, however, a habit
    that brother had, to grin in an ugly manner even when expounding.
    I call to mind a delighted snarl with which he used to detail from
    the platform the torments reserved for the wicked (meaning all
    human creation except the brotherhood), as being remarkably
    hideous.

    I left the two to settle their articles of partnership, and count
    money; and I never saw them again but on the following Sunday.
    Brother Hawkyard died within two or three years, leaving all he
    possessed to Brother Gimblet, in virtue of a will dated (as I have
    been told) that very day.

    Now I was so far at rest with myself, when Sunday came, knowing
    that I had conquered my own mistrust, and righted Brother Hawkyard
    in the jaundiced vision of a rival, that I went, even to that
    coarse chapel, in a less sensitive state than usual. How could I
    foresee that the delicate, perhaps the diseased, corner of my mind,
    where I winced and shrunk when it was touched, or was even
    approached, would be handled as the theme of the whole proceedings?

    On this occasion it was assigned to Brother Hawkyard to pray, and
    to Brother Gimblet to preach. The prayer was to open the
    ceremonies; the discourse was to come next. Brothers Hawkyard and
    Gimblet were both on the platform; Brother Hawkyard on his knees at
    the table, unmusically ready to pray; Brother Gimblet sitting
    against the wall, grinningly ready to preach.

    'Let us offer up the sacrifice of prayer, my brothers and sisters
    and fellow-sinners.' Yes; but it was I who was the sacrifice. It
    was our poor, sinful, worldly-minded brother here present who was
    wrestled for. The now-opening career of this our unawakened
    brother might lead to his becoming a minister of what was called
    'the church.' That was what HE looked to. The church. Not the
    chapel, Lord. The church. No rectors, no vicars, no archdeacons,
    no bishops, no archbishops, in the chapel, but, O Lord! many such
    in the church. Protect our sinful brother from his love of lucre.
    Cleanse from our unawakened brother's breast his sin of worldly-
    mindedness. The prayer said infinitely more in words, but nothing
    more to any intelligible effect.

    Then Brother Gimblet came forward, and took (as I knew he would)
    the text, 'My kingdom is not of this world.' Ah! but whose was, my
    fellow-sinners? Whose? Why, our brother's here present was. The
    only kingdom he had an idea of was of this world. ('That's it!'
    from several of the congregation.) What did the woman do when she
    lost the piece of money? Went and looked for it. What should our
    brother do when he lost his way? ('Go and look for it,' from a
    sister.) Go and look for it, true. But must he look for it in the
    right direction, or in the wrong? ('In the right,' from a
    brother.) There spake the prophets! He must look for it in the
    right direction, or he couldn't find it. But he had turned his
    back upon the right direction, and he wouldn't find it. Now, my
    fellow-sinners, to show you the difference betwixt worldly-
    mindedness and unworldly-mindedness, betwixt kingdoms not of this
    world and kingdoms OF this world, here was a letter wrote by even
    our worldly-minded brother unto Brother Hawkyard. Judge, from
    hearing of it read, whether Brother Hawkyard was the faithful
    steward that the Lord had in his mind only t'other day, when, in
    this very place, he drew you the picter of the unfaithful one; for
    it was him that done it, not me. Don't doubt that!

    Brother Gimblet then groaned and bellowed his way through my
    composition, and subsequently through an hour. The service closed
    with a hymn, in which the brothers unanimously roared, and the
    sisters unanimously shrieked at me, That I by wiles of worldly gain
    was mocked, and they on waters of sweet love were rocked; that I
    with mammon struggled in the dark, while they were floating in a
    second ark.

    I went out from all this with an aching heart and a weary spirit:
    not because I was quite so weak as to consider these narrow
    creatures interpreters of the Divine Majesty and Wisdom, but
    because I was weak enough to feel as though it were my hard fortune
    to be misrepresented and misunderstood, when I most tried to subdue
    any risings of mere worldliness within me, and when I most hoped
    that, by dint of trying earnestly, I had succeeded.

    SEVENTH CHAPTER

    MY timidity and my obscurity occasioned me to live a secluded life
    at college, and to be little known. No relative ever came to visit
    me, for I had no relative. No intimate friends broke in upon my
    studies, for I made no intimate friends. I supported myself on my
    scholarship, and read much. My college time was otherwise not so
    very different from my time at Hoghton Towers.

    Knowing myself to be unfit for the noisier stir of social
    existence, but believing myself qualified to do my duty in a
    moderate, though earnest way, if I could obtain some small
    preferment in the Church, I applied my mind to the clerical
    profession. In due sequence I took orders, was ordained, and began
    to look about me for employment. I must observe that I had taken a
    good degree, that I had succeeded in winning a good fellowship, and
    that my means were ample for my retired way of life. By this time
    I had read with several young men; and the occupation increased my
    income, while it was highly interesting to me. I once accidentally
    overheard our greatest don say, to my boundless joy, 'That he heard
    it reported of Silverman that his gift of quiet explanation, his
    patience, his amiable temper, and his conscientiousness made him
    the best of coaches.' May my 'gift of quiet explanation' come more
    seasonably and powerfully to my aid in this present explanation
    than I think it will!

    It may be in a certain degree owing to the situation of my college-
    rooms (in a corner where the daylight was sobered), but it is in a
    much larger degree referable to the state of my own mind, that I
    seem to myself, on looking back to this time of my life, to have
    been always in the peaceful shade. I can see others in the
    sunlight; I can see our boats' crews and our athletic young men on
    the glistening water, or speckled with the moving lights of sunlit
    leaves; but I myself am always in the shadow looking on. Not
    unsympathetically, - God forbid! - but looking on alone, much as I
    looked at Sylvia from the shadows of the ruined house, or looked at
    the red gleam shining through the farmer's windows, and listened to
    the fall of dancing feet, when all the ruin was dark that night in
    the quadrangle.

    I now come to the reason of my quoting that laudation of myself
    above given. Without such reason, to repeat it would have been
    mere boastfulness.

    Among those who had read with me was Mr. Fareway, second son of
    Lady Fareway, widow of Sir Gaston Fareway, baronet. This young
    gentleman's abilities were much above the average; but he came of a
    rich family, and was idle and luxurious. He presented himself to
    me too late, and afterwards came to me too irregularly, to admit of
    my being of much service to him. In the end, I considered it my
    duty to dissuade him from going up for an examination which he
    could never pass; and he left college without a degree. After his
    departure, Lady Fareway wrote to me, representing the justice of my
    returning half my fee, as I had been of so little use to her son.
    Within my knowledge a similar demand had not been made in any other
    case; and I most freely admit that the justice of it had not
    occurred to me until it was pointed out. But I at once perceived
    it, yielded to it, and returned the money -

    Mr. Fareway had been gone two years or more, and I had forgotten
    him, when he one day walked into my rooms as I was sitting at my
    books.

    Said he, after the usual salutations had passed, 'Mr. Silverman, my
    mother is in town here, at the hotel, and wishes me to present you
    to her.'

    I was not comfortable with strangers, and I dare say I betrayed
    that I was a little nervous or unwilling. 'For,' said he, without
    my having spoken, 'I think the interview may tend to the
    advancement of your prospects.'

    It put me to the blush to think that I should be tempted by a
    worldly reason, and I rose immediately.

    Said Mr. Fareway, as we went along, 'Are you a good hand at
    business?'

    'I think not,' said I.

    Said Mr. Fareway then, 'My mother is.'

    'Truly?' said I.

    'Yes: my mother is what is usually called a managing woman.
    Doesn't make a bad thing, for instance, even out of the spendthrift
    habits of my eldest brother abroad. In short, a managing woman.
    This is in confidence.'

    He had never spoken to me in confidence, and I was surprised by his
    doing so. I said I should respect his confidence, of course, and
    said no more on the delicate subject. We had but a little way to
    walk, and I was soon in his mother's company. He presented me,
    shook hands with me, and left us two (as he said) to business.

    I saw in my Lady Fareway a handsome, well-preserved lady of
    somewhat large stature, with a steady glare in her great round dark
    eyes that embarrassed me.

    Said my lady, 'I have heard from my son, Mr. Silverman, that you
    would be glad of some preferment in the church.' I gave my lady to
    understand that was so.

    'I don't know whether you are aware,' my lady proceeded, 'that we
    have a presentation to a living? I say WE have; but, in point of
    fact, I have.'

    I gave my lady to understand that I had not been aware of this.

    Said my lady, 'So it is: indeed I have two presentations, - one to
    two hundred a year, one to six. Both livings are in our county, -
    North Devonshire, - as you probably know. The first is vacant.
    Would you like it?'

    What with my lady's eyes, and what with the suddenness of this
    proposed gift, I was much confused.

    'I am sorry it is not the larger presentation,' said my lady,
    rather coldly; 'though I will not, Mr. Silverman, pay you the bad
    compliment of supposing that YOU are, because that would be
    mercenary, - and mercenary I am persuaded you are not.'

    Said I, with my utmost earnestness, 'Thank you, Lady Fareway, thank
    you, thank you! I should be deeply hurt if I thought I bore the
    character.'

    'Naturally,' said my lady. 'Always detestable, but particularly in
    a clergyman. You have not said whether you will like the living?'

    With apologies for my remissness or indistinctness, I assured my
    lady that I accepted it most readily and gratefully. I added that
    I hoped she would not estimate my appreciation of the generosity of
    her choice by my flow of words; for I was not a ready man in that
    respect when taken by surprise or touched at heart.

    'The affair is concluded,' said my lady; 'concluded. You will find
    the duties very light, Mr. Silverman. Charming house; charming
    little garden, orchard, and all that. You will be able to take
    pupils. By the bye! No: I will return to the word afterwards.
    What was I going to mention, when it put me out?'

    My lady stared at me, as if I knew. And I didn't know. And that
    perplexed me afresh.

    Said my lady, after some consideration, 'O, of course, how very
    dull of me! The last incumbent, - least mercenary man I ever saw,
    - in consideration of the duties being so light and the house so
    delicious, couldn't rest, he said, unless I permitted him to help
    me with my correspondence, accounts, and various little things of
    that kind; nothing in themselves, but which it worries a lady to
    cope with. Would Mr. Silverman also like to -? Or shall I -?'

    I hastened to say that my poor help would be always at her
    ladyship's service.

    'I am absolutely blessed,' said my lady, casting up her eyes (and
    so taking them off me for one moment), 'in having to do with
    gentlemen who cannot endure an approach to the idea of being
    mercenary!' She shivered at the word. 'And now as to the pupil.'

    'The -?' I was quite at a loss.

    'Mr. Silverman, you have no idea what she is. She is,' said my
    lady, laying her touch upon my coat-sleeve, 'I do verily believe,
    the most extraordinary girl in this world. Already knows more
    Greek and Latin than Lady Jane Grey. And taught herself! Has not
    yet, remember, derived a moment's advantage from Mr. Silverman's
    classical acquirements. To say nothing of mathematics, which she
    is bent upon becoming versed in, and in which (as I hear from my
    son and others) Mr. Silverman's reputation is so deservedly high!'

    Under my lady's eyes I must have lost the clue, I felt persuaded;
    and yet I did not know where I could have dropped it.

    'Adelina,' said my lady, 'is my only daughter. If I did not feel
    quite convinced that I am not blinded by a mother's partiality;
    unless I was absolutely sure that when you know her, Mr. Silverman,
    you will esteem it a high and unusual privilege to direct her
    studies, - I should introduce a mercenary element into this
    conversation, and ask you on what terms - '

    I entreated my lady to go no further. My lady saw that I was
    troubled, and did me the honour to comply with my request.

    EIGHTH CHAPTER

    EVERYTHING in mental acquisition that her brother might have been,
    if he would, and everything in all gracious charms and admirable
    qualities that no one but herself could be, - this was Adelina.

    I will not expatiate upon her beauty; I will not expatiate upon her
    intelligence, her quickness of perception, her powers of memory,
    her sweet consideration, from the first moment, for the slow-paced
    tutor who ministered to her wonderful gifts. I was thirty then; I
    am over sixty now: she is ever present to me in these hours as she
    was in those, bright and beautiful and young, wise and fanciful and
    good.

    When I discovered that I loved her, how can I say? In the first
    day? in the first week? in the first month? Impossible to trace.
    If I be (as I am) unable to represent to myself any previous period
    of my life as quite separable from her attracting power, how can I
    answer for this one detail?

    Whensoever I made the discovery, it laid a heavy burden on me. And
    yet, comparing it with the far heavier burden that I afterwards
    took up, it does not seem to me now to have been very hard to bear.
    In the knowledge that I did love her, and that I should love her
    while my life lasted, and that I was ever to hide my secret deep in
    my own breast, and she was never to find it, there was a kind of
    sustaining joy or pride, or comfort, mingled with my pain.

    But later on, - say, a year later on, - when I made another
    discovery, then indeed my suffering and my struggle were strong.
    That other discovery was -

    These words will never see the light, if ever, until my heart is
    dust; until her bright spirit has returned to the regions of which,
    when imprisoned here, it surely retained some unusual glimpse of
    remembrance; until all the pulses that ever beat around us shall
    have long been quiet; until all the fruits of all the tiny
    victories and defeats achieved in our little breasts shall have
    withered away. That discovery was that she loved me.

    She may have enhanced my knowledge, and loved me for that; she may
    have over-valued my discharge of duty to her, and loved me for
    that; she may have refined upon a playful compassion which she
    would sometimes show for what she called my want of wisdom,
    according to the light of the world's dark lanterns, and loved me
    for that; she may - she must - have confused the borrowed light of
    what I had only learned, with its brightness in its pure, original
    rays; but she loved me at that time, and she made me know it.

    Pride of family and pride of wealth put me as far off from her in
    my lady's eyes as if I had been some domesticated creature of
    another kind. But they could not put me farther from her than I
    put myself when I set my merits against hers. More than that.
    They could not put me, by millions of fathoms, half so low beneath
    her as I put myself when in imagination I took advantage of her
    noble trustfulness, took the fortune that I knew she must possess
    in her own right, and left her to find herself, in the zenith of
    her beauty and genius, bound to poor rusty, plodding me.

    No! Worldliness should not enter here at any cost. If I had tried
    to keep it out of other ground, how much harder was I bound to try
    to keep it out from this sacred place!

    But there was something daring in her broad, generous character,
    that demanded at so delicate a crisis to be delicately and
    patiently addressed. And many and many a bitter night (O, I found
    I could cry for reasons not purely physical, at this pass of my
    life!) I took my course.

    My lady had, in our first interview, unconsciously overstated the
    accommodation of my pretty house. There was room in it for only
    one pupil. He was a young gentleman near coming of age, very well
    connected, but what is called a poor relation. His parents were
    dead. The charges of his living and reading with me were defrayed
    by an uncle; and he and I were to do our utmost together for three
    years towards qualifying him to make his way. At this time he had
    entered into his second year with me. He was well-looking, clever,
    energetic, enthusiastic; bold; in the best sense of the term, a
    thorough young Anglo-Saxon.

    I resolved to bring these two together.

    NINTH CHAPTER

    SAID I, one night, when I had conquered myself, 'Mr. Granville,' -
    Mr. Granville Wharton his name was, - 'I doubt if you have ever yet
    so much as seen Miss Fareway.'

    'Well, sir,' returned he, laughing, 'you see her so much yourself,
    that you hardly leave another fellow a chance of seeing her.'

    'I am her tutor, you know,' said I.

    And there the subject dropped for that time. But I so contrived as
    that they should come together shortly afterwards. I had
    previously so contrived as to keep them asunder; for while I loved
    her, - I mean before I had determined on my sacrifice, - a lurking
    jealousy of Mr. Granville lay within my unworthy breast.

    It was quite an ordinary interview in the Fareway Park but they
    talked easily together for some time: like takes to like, and they
    had many points of resemblance. Said Mr. Granville to me, when he
    and I sat at our supper that night, 'Miss Fareway is remarkably
    beautiful, sir, remarkably engaging. Don't you think so?' 'I
    think so,' said I. And I stole a glance at him, and saw that he
    had reddened and was thoughtful. I remember it most vividly,
    because the mixed feeling of grave pleasure and acute pain that the
    slight circumstance caused me was the first of a long, long series
    of such mixed impressions under which my hair turned slowly gray.

    I had not much need to feign to be subdued; but I counterfeited to
    be older than I was in all respects (Heaven knows! my heart being
    all too young the while), and feigned to be more of a recluse and
    bookworm than I had really become, and gradually set up more and
    more of a fatherly manner towards Adelina. Likewise I made my
    tuition less imaginative than before; separated myself from my
    poets and philosophers; was careful to present them in their own
    light, and me, their lowly servant, in my own shade. Moreover, in
    the matter of apparel I was equally mindful; not that I had ever
    been dapper that way; but that I was slovenly now.

    As I depressed myself with one hand, so did I labour to raise Mr.
    Granville with the other; directing his attention to such subjects
    as I too well knew interested her, and fashioning him (do not
    deride or misconstrue the expression, unknown reader of this
    writing; for I have suffered!) into a greater resemblance to myself
    in my solitary one strong aspect. And gradually, gradually, as I
    saw him take more and more to these thrown-out lures of mine, then
    did I come to know better and better that love was drawing him on,
    and was drawing her from me.

    So passed more than another year; every day a year in its number of
    my mixed impressions of grave pleasure and acute pain; and then
    these two, being of age and free to act legally for themselves,
    came before me hand in hand (my hair being now quite white), and
    entreated me that I would unite them together. 'And indeed, dear
    tutor,' said Adelina, 'it is but consistent in you that you should
    do this thing for us, seeing that we should never have spoken
    together that first time but for you, and that but for you we could
    never have met so often afterwards.' The whole of which was
    literally true; for I had availed myself of my many business
    attendances on, and conferences with, my lady, to take Mr.
    Granville to the house, and leave him in the outer room with
    Adelina.

    I knew that my lady would object to such a marriage for her
    daughter, or to any marriage that was other than an exchange of her
    for stipulated lands, goods, and moneys. But looking on the two,
    and seeing with full eyes that they were both young and beautiful;
    and knowing that they were alike in the tastes and acquirements
    that will outlive youth and beauty; and considering that Adelina
    had a fortune now, in her own keeping; and considering further that
    Mr. Granville, though for the present poor, was of a good family
    that had never lived in a cellar in Preston; and believing that
    their love would endure, neither having any great discrepancy to
    find out in the other, - I told them of my readiness to do this
    thing which Adelina asked of her dear tutor, and to send them
    forth, husband and wife, into the shining world with golden gates
    that awaited them.

    It was on a summer morning that I rose before the sun to compose
    myself for the crowning of my work with this end; and my dwelling
    being near to the sea, I walked down to the rocks on the shore, in
    order that I might behold the sun in his majesty.

    The tranquillity upon the deep, and on the firmament, the orderly
    withdrawal of the stars, the calm promise of coming day, the rosy
    suffusion of the sky and waters, the ineffable splendour that then
    burst forth, attuned my mind afresh after the discords of the
    night. Methought that all I looked on said to me, and that all I
    heard in the sea and in the air said to me, 'Be comforted, mortal,
    that thy life is so short. Our preparation for what is to follow
    has endured, and shall endure, for unimaginable ages.'

    I married them. I knew that my hand was cold when I placed it on
    their hands clasped together; but the words with which I had to
    accompany the action I could say without faltering, and I was at
    peace.

    They being well away from my house and from the place after our
    simple breakfast, the time was come when I must do what I had
    pledged myself to them that I would do, - break the intelligence to
    my lady.

    I went up to the house, and found my lady in her ordinary business-
    room. She happened to have an unusual amount of commissions to
    intrust to me that day; and she had filled my hands with papers
    before I could originate a word.

    'My lady,' I then began, as I stood beside her table.

    'Why, what's the matter?' she said quickly, looking up.

    'Not much, I would fain hope, after you shall have prepared
    yourself, and considered a little.'

    'Prepared myself; and considered a little! You appear to have
    prepared YOURSELF but indifferently, anyhow, Mr. Silverman.' This
    mighty scornfully, as I experienced my usual embarrassment under
    her stare.

    Said I, in self-extenuation once for all, 'Lady Fareway, I have but
    to say for myself that I have tried to do my duty.'

    'For yourself?' repeated my lady. 'Then there are others
    concerned, I see. Who are they?'

    I was about to answer, when she made towards the bell with a dart
    that stopped me, and said, 'Why, where is Adelina?'

    'Forbear! be calm, my lady. I married her this morning to Mr.
    Granville Wharton.'

    She set her lips, looked more intently at me than ever, raised her
    right hand, and smote me hard upon the cheek.

    'Give me back those papers! give me back those papers!' She tore
    them out of my hands, and tossed them on her table. Then seating
    herself defiantly in her great chair, and folding her arms, she
    stabbed me to the heart with the unlooked-for reproach, 'You
    worldly wretch!'

    'Worldly?' I cried. 'Worldly?'

    'This, if you please,' - she went on with supreme scorn, pointing
    me out as if there were some one there to see, - 'this, if you
    please, is the disinterested scholar, with not a design beyond his
    books! This, if you please, is the simple creature whom any one
    could overreach in a bargain! This, if you please, is Mr.
    Silverman! Not of this world; not he! He has too much simplicity
    for this world's cunning. He has too much singleness of purpose to
    be a match for this world's double-dealing. What did he give you
    for it?'

    'For what? And who?'

    'How much,' she asked, bending forward in her great chair, and
    insultingly tapping the fingers of her right hand on the palm of
    her left, - 'how much does Mr. Granville Wharton pay you for
    getting him Adelina's money? What is the amount of your percentage
    upon Adelina's fortune? What were the terms of the agreement that
    you proposed to this boy when you, the Rev. George Silverman,
    licensed to marry, engaged to put him in possession of this girl?
    You made good terms for yourself, whatever they were. He would
    stand a poor chance against your keenness.'

    Bewildered, horrified, stunned by this cruel perversion, I could
    not speak. But I trust that I looked innocent, being so.

    'Listen to me, shrewd hypocrite,' said my lady, whose anger
    increased as she gave it utterance; 'attend to my words, you
    cunning schemer, who have carried this plot through with such a
    practised double face that I have never suspected you. I had my
    projects for my daughter; projects for family connection; projects
    for fortune. You have thwarted them, and overreached me; but I am
    not one to be thwarted and overreached without retaliation. Do you
    mean to hold this living another month?'

    'Do you deem it possible, Lady Fareway, that I can hold it another
    hour, under your injurious words?'

    'Is it resigned, then?'

    'It was mentally resigned, my lady, some minutes ago.'

    Don't equivocate, sir. IS it resigned?'

    'Unconditionally and entirely; and I would that I had never, never
    come near it!'

    'A cordial response from me to THAT wish, Mr. Silverman! But take
    this with you, sir. If you had not resigned it, I would have had
    you deprived of it. And though you have resigned it, you will not
    get quit of me as easily as you think for. I will pursue you with
    this story. I will make this nefarious conspiracy of yours, for
    money, known. You have made money by it, but you have at the same
    time made an enemy by it. YOU will take good care that the money
    sticks to you; I will take good care that the enemy sticks to you.'

    Then said I finally, 'Lady Fareway, I think my heart is broken.
    Until I came into this room just now, the possibility of such mean
    wickedness as you have imputed to me never dawned upon my thoughts.
    Your suspicions - '

    'Suspicions! Pah!' said she indignantly. 'Certainties.'

    'Your certainties, my lady, as you call them, your suspicions as I
    call them, are cruel, unjust, wholly devoid of foundation in fact.
    I can declare no more; except that I have not acted for my own
    profit or my own pleasure. I have not in this proceeding
    considered myself. Once again, I think my heart is broken. If I
    have unwittingly done any wrong with a righteous motive, that is
    some penalty to pay.'

    She received this with another and more indignant 'Pah!' and I made
    my way out of her room (I think I felt my way out with my hands,
    although my eyes were open), almost suspecting that my voice had a
    repulsive sound, and that I was a repulsive object.

    There was a great stir made, the bishop was appealed to, I received
    a severe reprimand, and narrowly escaped suspension. For years a
    cloud hung over me, and my name was tarnished.

    But my heart did not break, if a broken heart involves death; for I
    lived through it.

    They stood by me, Adelina and her husband, through it all. Those
    who had known me at college, and even most of those who had only
    known me there by reputation, stood by me too. Little by little,
    the belief widened that I was not capable of what was laid to my
    charge. At length I was presented to a college-living in a
    sequestered place, and there I now pen my explanation. I pen it at
    my open window in the summer-time, before me, lying in the
    churchyard, equal resting-place for sound hearts, wounded hearts,
    and broken hearts. I pen it for the relief of my own mind, not
    foreseeing whether or no it will ever have a reader.
    If you're writing a George Silverman's Explanation essay and need some advice, post your Charles Dickens essay question on our Facebook page where fellow bookworms are always glad to help!

    Top 5 Authors

    Top 5 Books

    Book Status
    Finished
    Want to read
    Abandoned

    Are you sure you want to leave this group?