strain of stoicism, doubtless the fruit of having had to begin
early to bear pain, which counted for pluck and made it of less
consequence that he might have been thought at school rather a
polyglot little beast. Pemberton indeed quickly found himself
rejoicing that school was out of the question: in any million of
boys it was probably good for all but one, and Morgan was that
millionth. It would have made him comparative and superior - it
might have made him really require kicking. Pemberton would try to
be school himself - a bigger seminary than five hundred grazing
donkeys, so that, winning no prizes, the boy would remain
unconscious and irresponsible and amusing - amusing, because,
though life was already intense in his childish nature, freshness
still made there a strong draught for jokes. It turned out that
even in the still air of Morgan's various disabilities jokes
flourished greatly. He was a pale lean acute undeveloped little
cosmopolite, who liked intellectual gymnastics and who also, as
regards the behaviour of mankind, had noticed more things than you
might suppose, but who nevertheless had his proper playroom of
superstitions, where he smashed a dozen toys a day.
At Nice once, toward evening, as the pair rested in the open air
after a walk, and looked over the sea at the pink western lights,
he said suddenly to his comrade: "Do you like it, you know - being
with us all in this intimate way?"
"My dear fellow, why should I stay if I didn't?"
"How do I know you'll stay? I'm almost sure you won't, very long."
"I hope you don't mean to dismiss me," said Pemberton.
Morgan debated, looking at the sunset. "I think if I did right I
"Well, I know I'm supposed to instruct you in virtue; but in that
case don't do right."
"'You're very young - fortunately," Morgan went on, turning to him
"Oh yes, compared with you!"
"Therefore it won't matter so much if you do lose a lot of time."
"That's the way to look at it," said Pemberton accommodatingly.
They were silent a minute; after which the boy asked: "Do you like
my father and my mother very much?"
"Dear me, yes. They're charming people."
Morgan received this with another silence; then unexpectedly,
familiarly, but at the same time affectionately, he remarked:
"You're a jolly old humbug!"
For a particular reason the words made our young man change colour.
The boy noticed in an instant that he had turned red, whereupon he
turned red himself and pupil and master exchanged a longish glance
in which there was a consciousness of many more things than are
usually touched upon, even tacitly, in such a relation. It
produced for Pemberton an embarrassment; it raised in a shadowy
form a question - this was the first glimpse of it - destined to
play a singular and, as he imagined, owing to the altogetherDownload<<BackPagesMainNext>>