The Irrational Knot/Chapter XV
In October Marian was at Sark, holiday making at the house of Hardy McQuinch's brother, who had recently returned to England with a fortune made in Australia. Conolly, having the house at Holland Park to himself, fitted a spare room as a laboratory, and worked there every night. One evening, returning home alone a little before five o'clock, he shut himself into this laboratory, and had just set to work when Armande, the housemaid, interrupted him.
"Mrs. Leith Fairfax, sir."
Conolly had had little intercourse with Mrs. Fairfax since before his marriage, when he had once shewn her the working of his invention at Queen Victoria Street; and as Marian had since resented her share of Douglas's second proposal by avoiding her society as far as possible without actually discontinuing her acquaintance, this visit was a surprise. Conolly looked darkly at Armande, and went to the drawing-room without a word.
"How do you do, Mr. Conolly?" said Mrs. Fairfax, as he entered. "I need not ask: you are looking so well. Have I disturbed you?"
"You have—most agreeably. Pray sit down."
"I know your time is priceless. I should never have ventured to come, but that I felt sure you would like to hear all the news from Sark. I have been there for the last fortnight. Marian told me to call on you the moment I returned."
"Yes," said Conolly, convinced that this was not true. "She promised to do so in her last letter."
Mrs. Fairfax, on the point of publishing a few supplementary fictions, checked herself, and looked suspiciously at him.
"The air of Sark has evidently benefited you," he said, as she paused. "You are looking very well—I had almost said charming."
Mrs. Fairfax glanced archly at him, and said, "Nonsense! but, indeed, the trip was absolutely necessary for me. I should hardly have been alive had I remained at work; and poor Willie McQuinch was bent on having me."
"He has been described to me as an inveterate lion hunter."
"It is not at all pleasant, I assure you, to be persecuted with invitations from people who wish to see a real live novelist. But William McQuinch's place at Sark is really palatial. He is called Sarcophagus on account of his wealth. A great many people whom he knew were staying in the island, besides those in the house with us. Marian was the beauty of the place. How every one admires her! Why do you not go down, Mr. Conolly?"
"I am too busy. Besides, it will do Marian good to be rid of me for a while."
"Absurd, Mr. Conolly! You should not leave her there by herself."
"By herself! Why, is not the place full?"
"Yes; but I do not mean that. There is nobody belonging to her there."
"You forget. Miss McQuinch is her bosom friend. There is Marmaduke, her cousin; and his mother, her Aunt Dora. Then, is there not Mr. Sholto Douglas, one of her oldest and most attached friends?"
"Oh! Is Mr. Douglas in charge of her?"
"No doubt he will take charge of her, if she is overtaken by her second childhood whilst he is there. Meanwhile, she is in charge of herself, is she not? And there is hardly any danger of her feeling lonely."
"No. Sholto Douglas will provide against that."
"Your opinion confirms the accounts I have had from other sources. It appears that Mr. Douglas is very attentive to my wife."
"Very, indeed, Mr. Conolly. You must not think that I am afraid of anything—anything—"
"Well—Oh, you know what I mean. Anything wrong. At least, not exactly wrong, but—"
"Yes. You see, Marian's position is a very difficult one. She is so young and so good looking that she is very much observed; and it seems so strange her being without her husband."
"Pretty ladies whose husbands are never seen, often get talked about in the world, do they not?"
"That is just what I mean. How cleverly you get everything out of me, Mr. Conolly! I called here without the faintest idea of alluding to Marian's situation; and now you have made me say all sorts of things. What a fortune you would have made at the bar!"
"I must apologize, I did not mean to cross-examine you. Naturally, of course, you would not like to make me uneasy about Marian."
"It is the very last thing I should desire. But now that it has slipped out, I really think you ought to go to Sark."
"Indeed! I rather infer that I should be very much in the way."
"The more reason for you to go, Mr. Conolly."
"Not at all, Mrs. Leith Fairfax. The attentions of a husband are stale, unsuited to holiday time. Picture to yourself my arrival at Sark with the tender assurance in my mouth, 'Marian, I love you.' She would reply, 'So you ought. Am I not your wife?' The same advance from another—Mr. Douglas, for instance—would affect her quite differently, and much more pleasantly."
"Mr. Conolly; is this indifference, or supreme confidence?"
"Neither of these conjugal claptraps. I merely desire that Marian should enjoy herself as much as possible; and the more a woman is admired, the happier she is. Perhaps you think that, in deference to the general feeling in such matters, I should become jealous."
Mrs. Fairfax again looked doubtfully at him. "I cannot make you out at all, Mr. Conolly," she said submissively. "I hope I have not offended you."
"Not in the least. I take it that having observed certain circumstances which seemed to threaten the welfare of one very dear to you (as, I am aware, Marian is), the trouble they caused you found unpremeditated expression in the course of a conversation with me." Conolly beamed at her, as if he thought this rather neatly turned.
"Exactly so. But I do not wish you to think that I have observed anything particular."
"Certainly not. Still, you think there would be no harm in my writing to Marian to say that her behavior has attracted your notice, and—"
"Good heavens, Mr. Conolly, you must not mention me in the matter! You are so innocent—at least so frank, so workmanlike, if I may say so, in your way of dealing with things! I would not have Marian know what I have said—I really did not notice anything—for worlds. You had better not write at all, but just go down as if you went merely to enjoy yourself; and dont on any account let Marian suspect that you have heard anything. Goodness knows what mischief you might make, in your—your ingenuousness!"
"But I should have thought that the opinion of an old and valued friend like yourself would have special weight with her."
"You know nothing about it. Clever engineer as you are, you do not understand the little wheels by which our great machine of society is worked."
"True, Mrs. Leith Fairfax," he rejoined, echoing the cadence of her sentence. "Educated as a mere mechanic, I am still a stranger to the elegancies of life. I usually depend on Marian for direction; but since you think that it would be injudicious to appeal to her in the present instance—"
"Out of the question, Mr. Conolly."
"—I must trust to your guidance in the matter. What do you suggest?"
Mrs. Fairfax was about to reply, when the expression which she habitually wore like a mask in society, wavered and broke. Her lip trembled: her eyes filled with tears: she rose with a sniff that was half a sob. When she spoke, her voice was sincere for the first time, and at the sound of it Conolly's steely, hard manner melted, and his inhuman self-possession vanished.
"You think," she said, "that I came here to make mischief. I did not. Marian is nothing to me: she does not even like me; but I dont want to see her ruin herself merely because she is too inexperienced to know when she is well off. I have had to fight my way in London: and I know what it is, and what the world is. She is not fit to take charge of herself. Good-bye, Mr. Conolly: you are a great deal too young yourself to know the danger, for all your cleverness. You may tell her that I came here and gossipped against her, if you like. She will never speak to me again; but if it saves her, I dont care. Good-bye."
"My dear Mrs. Fairfax," he said, with entire frankness, "I am now deeply and sincerely obliged to you." And in proof that he was touched, he kissed her hand with the ease and grace of a man who had been carefully taught how to do it. Mrs. Fairfax recovered herself and almost blushed as he went with her to the door, chatting easily about the weather and the Addison Road trains.
She was not the last visitor that evening. She had hardly been fifteen minutes gone when the Rev. George presented himself, and was conducted to the laboratory, where he found Conolly, with his coat off, surrounded by apparatus. The glowing fire, comfortable chairs, and preparations for an evening meal, gladdened him more than the presence of his brother-in-law, with whom he never felt quite at ease.
"You wont mind my fiddling with these machines while I talk," said Conolly.
"Not at all, not at all. I shall witness your operations with great interest. You must not think that the wonders of science are indifferent to me."
"So you are going on to Sark, you say?"
"Yes. May I ask whether you will be persuaded to come?"
"No, for certain. I have other fish to fry here."
"I think it would renovate your health to come for a few days."
"My health is always right as long as I have work. Did you meet Mrs. Fairfax outside?"
"A—yes. I passed her."
"You spoke to her, I suppose?"
"A few words. Yes."
"Do you know what she came here for?"
"No. But stay. I am wrong. She mentioned that she came for a book she lent you."
"She mentioned what was not true. What did she say to you about Marian?"
"Well, she—She was just saying that it is perhaps as well that I should go down to Sark at once, as Marian is quite alone."
The clergyman looked so guilty as he said this that Conolly laughed outright at him. "You mean," he said, "that Marian is not quite alone. Well, very likely Douglas occupies himself a good deal with her. If so, there may be some busybody or another down there fool enough to tell her that people are talking about her. That would spoil her holiday; so it is lucky that you are going down. No one will take it upon themselves to speak to her when you are there; and if they say anything to you, you can let it in at one ear and out at the other."
"That is, of course, unless I should see her really acting indiscreetly."
"I had better tell you beforehand what you will see if you keep your eyes open. You will see very plainly that Douglas is in love with her. Also that she knows that he is in love with her. In fact, she told me so. And you will see she rather likes it. Every married woman requires a holiday from her husband occasionally, even when he suits her perfectly."
The Rev. George stared. "If I follow you aright—I am not sure that I do—you impute to Marian the sin of entertaining feelings which it is her duty to repress."
"I impute no sin to her. You might as well tell a beggar that he has no right to be hungry, as a woman that it is her duty to feel this and not to feel that."
"But Marian has been educated to feel only in accordance with her duty."
"So have you. How does it work? However," continued Conolly, without waiting for an answer, "I dont deny that Marian shews the effects of her education. They are deplorably evident in all her conscientious actions."
"You surprise and distress me. This is the first intimation I have received of your having any cause to complain of Marian."
"Nonsense! I dont complain of her. But what you call her education, as far as I can make it out, appears to have consisted of stuffing her with lies, and making it a point of honor with her to believe them in spite of sense and reason. The sense of duty that rises on that sort of foundation is more mischievous than downright want of principle. I dont dispute your right, you who constitute polite society, to skin over all the ugly facts of life. But to make your daughters believe that the skin covers healthy flesh is a crime. Poor Marian thinks that a room is clean when all the dust is swept out of sight under the furniture; and if honest people rake it out to bring it under the notice of those whose duty it is to remove it, she is disgusted with them, and ten to one accuses them of having made it themselves. She doesnt know what sort of world she is in, thanks to the misrepresentations of those who should have taught her. She will deceive her children in just the same way, if she ever has any. If she had been taught the truth in her own childhood, she would know how to face it, and would be a strong woman as well as an amiable one. But it is too late now. The truth seems natural to a child; but to a grown woman or man, it is a bitter lesson in the learning, though it may be invigorating when it is well mastered. And you know how seldom a hard task forced on an unwilling pupil is well mastered."
"What is truth?" said the clergyman, sententiously.
"All that we know, Master Pilate," retorted Conolly with a laugh. "And we know a good deal. It may seem small in comparison with what we dont know; but it is more than any one of us can hold, for all that. We know, for instance, that the world was not planned by a sentimental landscape gardener. If Marian ever learns that—which she may, although I am neither able nor willing to teach it to her—she will not thank those who gave her so much falsehood to unlearn. Until then, she will, I am afraid, do little else than lay up a store of regrets for herself."
"This is very strange. We always looked upon Marian as an exceptionally amiable girl."
"So she is, unfortunately. There is no institution so villainous but she will defend it; no tyranny so oppressive but she will make a virtue of submitting to it; no social cancer so venomous but she will shrink from cutting it out, and plead that it is a comfortable thing, and much better as it is. She knows that she disobeyed her father, and that he deserved to be disobeyed; yet she condemns other women who are disobedient, and stands out against Nelly McQuinch in defence of the unselfishness of parental love. She knows that the increased freedom of movement allowed to her as a married woman has been healthy for her; yet she looks coldly at other young women who assert their right to freedom, and are not afraid to walk through the streets without a sheepdog, human or otherwise, at their heels. She knows that marriage is not what she expected it to be, and that it gives me many unfair advantages over her; and she knows also that ours is a happier marriage than most. Nevertheless she will encourage other girls to marry; she will maintain that the chain which galls her own wrists so often is a string of honeysuckles; and if a woman identifies herself with any public movement for the lightening of that chain, she wont allow that that woman is fit to be admitted into decent society. There is not one of these shams to which she clings that I would not like to take by the throat and shake the life out of; and she knows it. Even in that she has not the consistency to believe me wrong, because it is undutiful and out of keeping with the honeysuckles to lack faith in her husband. In order to blind herself to her inconsistencies, she has to live in a rose-colored fog; and what with me constantly, in spite of myself, blowing this fog away on the one side, and the naked facts of her everyday experience as constantly letting in the daylight on the other, she must spend half the time wondering whether she is mad or sane. Between her desire to do right and her discoveries that it generally leads her to do wrong, she passes her life in a wistful melancholy which I cant dispel. I can only pity her. I suppose I could pet her; but I hate treating a woman like a child: it means giving up all hope of her becoming rational. She may turn for relief any day either to love or religion; and for her own sake I hope she will choose the first. Of the two evils, it is the least permanent." And Conolly, having disburdened himself, resumed his work without any pretence of waiting for the clergyman's comments.
"Well," said the Rev. George, cautiously, "I do not think I have quite followed your opinions, which seem to me to be exactly upside down, as if they were projected upon the retina of your mind's eye—to use Shakspear's happy phrase—just as they would be upon your—your real eye, you know. But I can assure you that your view of Marian is an entirely mistaken one. You seem to think that she does not give in her entire adherence to the doctrines of the Establishment. This is a matter which I venture to say you do not understand."
"Admitted," interposed Conolly, hastily. "Here is my workman's tea. Are you fond of scones?"
"I hardly know. Anything—the simplest fare, will satisfy me."
"So it does me, when I can get nothing better. Help yourself, pray."
Conolly did not sit down to the meal, but worked whilst the clergyman ate. Presently the Rev. George, warmed by the fire and cheered by the repast, returned to the subject of his host's domestic affairs.
"Come," he said, "I am sure that a few judicious words would lead to an explanation between you and Marian."
"I also think that a few words might do so. But they would not be judicious words."
"Why not? Can it be injudicious to restore harmony in a household?"
"No; but that would not be the effect of an explanation, because the truth is not likely to reconcile us. If I were to explain the difficulty to a man, he would argue. But Marian would just infer that I despised her, and nothing else."
"Oh no! Oh dear no! A few kind words; an appeal to her good sense; a little concession on both sides—"
"All excellent for a pair estranged by a flash of temper, or a mother-in-law, or a trifle of jealousy, or too many evenings spent at the club on the man's part, or too many dances with a gallant on the woman's; but no good for us. We have never exchanged unkind words: there are no concessions to be made: her good sense is not at fault. Besides, these few kind words that are supposed to be such a sovereign remedy for all sorts of domestic understandings are generally a few kind fibs. If I told them, Marian wouldnt believe them. Fibs dont make lasting truces either. No: the situation is graver than you think. Just suppose, for instance, that you undertake to restore harmony, as you call it! what will you say to her?"
"Well, it would depend on circumstances."
"But you know the circumstances on which it depends. How would you begin?"
"There are little ways of approaching delicate subjects with women. For instance, I might say, casually, that it was a pity that a pair so happily situated as you two should not agree perfectly."
"You would get no further; for Marian would never admit that we do not agree. She does not know what her complaint is, and therefore feels bound in honor to maintain that she has nothing to complain of. She is not the woman to cast reproach on me for a discontent she cannot explain. Or, if she could explain it, how much wiser should you be? I have explained; and you confess you cannot understand me. The difference between us is neither her fault nor mine; and all the explanations in the world will not remove it."
"If you would allow me to appeal to her religious duty—"
"Religion! She doesnt believe in it."
"What!" exclaimed the clergyman, unaffectedly shocked. "Surely, surely—"
"Listen. To me, believing in a doctrine doesnt mean holding up your hand and saying, 'Credo.' It means habitually acting on the assumption that the doctrine is true. Marian thinks it wrong not to go to church; and she will hold up her hand and cry 'Credo' to the immortality of her soul, or to any verse in the New Testament. The shareholders of our concern in the city will do the same. But do they or she ever act on the assumption that they are immortal, or that riches are dross, or that class prejudice is damnable? Never. They dont believe it. You will find that Marian has been thoroughly trained to separate her practice from her religious professions; and if you allude to the inconsistency she will instinctively feel that you are offending against good taste. In short, her 'Credo' doesnt mean faith: it means church-going, which is practised because it is respectable, and is respectable because it is a habit of the upper caste. But church-going is church-going; and business is business, as Marian will soon let you know if you meddle with her business. However, we need not argue about that: we know one another's views and can agree to differ."
"I should be false to my duty as a Christian priest if I made any such agreement."
"Perhaps so; but, at any rate, we cant spend all our lives over the same argument. No, as I was saying, take my advice, and let Marian alone."
"But what do you intend to do, then?"
"What can I do but wait? Experience must wear out some of her illusions. She will at least find out that she is no worse off than other women, and better off than some of them. Since the job cannot be undone, we must try how making the best of it will work. I am pretty hopeful myself. How are affairs getting on at your chapel? I am told that the sermons of your locum tenens send the congregation asleep."
"He is not at his best in the pulpit. A good fellow! a most loving man but not able to grapple with a large congregation. After all, I am obliged to confess that very few of our cloth are. The power of preaching is quite an exceptional one; and it is a gift as well as a trust. I humbly believe that the power of the tongue comes of a higher ordination than the bishop's."
Nothing further was said about Marian. The clergyman's object in visiting Conolly was, it presently appeared, to borrow a portmanteau. When he was gone, Conolly returned to the laboratory, and wrote the following letter:
"My dear Marian
"I have just had two unexpected visits, one from Mrs. Fairfax, and
one from George. Mrs. L.F. said you asked her to call and give me
the news. When I told her, without blushing, that you had written
to prepare me for her visit, she was rather put out, justly
thinking me to mean that I did not believe her. As this is fully
the thirty-sixth falsehood in which you have detected good Mrs. F.,
I fear you will be compelled, in spite of your principle of
believing the best of everybody, to regard her in future as a not
invariably accurate woman. She came with the object of making me go
down to Sark. You were so young and so much admired: Mr. Douglas
was so attentive: you should not be left entirely alone, and so
forth. You will be angry with her; but she thinks Douglas so
irresistible that she is genuinely anxious about you: I believe she
really meant well this time. As to our reverend brother, his
portmanteau burst in the train coming from Edinburgh; so he came to
borrow mine, having apparently resolved to wear out those of all
his friends before buying a new one. Unfortunately, he met Mrs. F.
down the road; and she urged him to go down to Sark just as she had
urged me. Now as George is incapable of holding his tongue when he
ought, I feel sure that unless I tell you what Mrs. F. said, he
will anticipate me. Otherwise I should not have mentioned it until
your return, for fear of annoying you and spoiling your visit. So
if his reverence hints or lectures, you will know what he means and
not heed him. Mrs. F's confidences have probably not been confined
to me; but were I in your place, I should not make the slightest
change in my conduct in consequence. At all events, if you feel
constrained to display any sudden accession of reserve toward
Douglas, tell him the reason; because if you dont, he will ascribe
the change to coquetry.
"I have turned the spare room on the first floor into a laboratory,
and am sitting in it now. I'm thinking of fitting it up like a
studio, and having private views of my inventions, as Scott has of
his pictures. Parson's man came with some flowers the other day,
and informed me that three balls, to the first of which he was
invited, took place in the house while I was away. One or two
trifling dilapidations, and the fact that somebody has been
tampering with the locks of the organ and piano, dispose me to
believe this tale. Parson's man declares that he was too virtuous
to come to the two last entertainments after finding out that the
first was a clandestine one; but I believe he made himself
disagreeable, and was not invited. Probably he quarrelled with some
military follower of Armande's; for he was particularly bitter on
the subject of a common soldier making free in a gentleman's house.
I have not said anything to the two culprits; but I have contrived
to make them suspect that I know all; and they now do their duty
with trembling diligence. Some man sat on the little walnut table
and broke it; but no other damage worth mentioning has been done.
The table was absurdly repaired with a piece of twine, and pushed
into the recess between the organ and the front window, whence I
sometimes amuse myself by the experiment of pulling it into broad
daylight. It is always pushed back again before I return in the
"How are you off for money? I have plenty of loose cash just now.
Madame called last Monday, and asked Matilda, who opened the door,
when you would be back. Thereupon I interviewed her. I must say she
is loyal to her clients; for I had great difficulty in extracting
her bill, which was, of course, what she called about. She
evidently recognizes the necessity of keeping husbands in the dark
in such matters. One of the items was for the lace on your
maccaroni-colored body, which, as I chanced to remember, you
supplied yourself. After a brief struggle she deducted it; so I
paid her the balance: only 35£ 13s. 9d.
"When are you coming back to me? After Sark I
fear you will find home a little dull. Nevertheless, I
should like to see you again. Come back before Christmas,
at any rate.
"Yours, dear Marian, in solitude,
The answer came two days later than return of post, and ran thus:
"Melbourne House, Sark,
"My dear Ned
"How very provoking about the servants! I do not mind Matilda so
much; but I do think it hard that we could not depend on Armande,
considering all the kindness we have shewn her. I can scarcely
believe that she would have acted so badly unless she were led away
by Matilda, whom I will pack off the moment I return. As to
Armande, I will give her another chance; but she shall have a sharp
talking to. I am quite sure that a great deal more mischief has
been done than you noticed. If the carpet was danced on for three
nights by men in heavy boots, it must be in ribbons. It is really
too bad. I do not want any money. Indeed the twenty pounds you sent
me last was quite unnecessary, as I have nearly sixteen left. What
a rogue Madame is to try and make you pay for my lace! I am sorry
you paid the bill. She had no business to call for her money: she
is never paid so soon by anybody. We have had great fun down
here. It has been one continual garden party all through; and the
weather is still lovely. Mr. McQuinch is very colonial: but I think
his ways make the house pleasanter than if he were still English.
Carbury is quite stupid in comparison to this place. I have danced
more than I ever did in my life before; and now we are so tired of
frivolity that if any one ventures to strum a waltz or propose a
game, we all protest. We tried to get up some choral music; but it
was a failure. On Friday, George, who is looked on as a great man
here, was asked to give us a Shakespeare reading. He was only too
glad to be asked; for he had heard Simonton, the actor, read at a
bazaar in Scotland, and was full of Richard the Third in
consequence. He was not very bad; but his imitation of Simonton was
so obvious and so queerly mixed with his own churchy style that he
seemed rather monotonous and affected. At least I thought so. I was
dreadfully uncomfortable during the reading because of Marmaduke,
who behaved scandalously. There were some schoolboys present; and
he not only encouraged them to misbehave themselves, but was worse
than any of them himself. At last he pretended to be overcome by
the heat, and went out of the room, to my great relief; but when
the passage about the early village cock came, he crew outside the
door, where he had been waiting expressly to do it. Nobody could
help laughing; and the boys screamed so that Mr. McQuinch took two
of them out by the collar. I believe he was glad of the excuse to
go out and laugh himself. George was very angry, and no wonder! He
will hardly speak to Marmaduke, who, of course, denies all
knowledge of the interruption; but George knows better. All the
Hardy McQuinches are down here. Uncle Hardy is rather stooped from
rheumatism. Nelly is now the chief personage in the family: Lydia
and Jane are nowhere beside her. They are good-humored, bouncing
girls; but they are certainly not brilliant. I hope it is not Aunt
Dora's walnut table that is broken. Was it not mean of Parson's man
to tell on Armande? I think, since you have plenty of loose cash,
we might venture on a set of those curtains we saw at Protheroe's,
for the drawing-room. I can easily use the ones that are there now
"You must not think that I have written this all at once. I shall
be able to finish to-day, as it is Sunday, and I have made an
excuse to stay away from church. George is to preach; and somehow I
never feel toward the service as I ought when he officiates. I know
you will laugh at this.
"The first part of your letter must have a paragraph
all to itself. I hardly know what to say. I could not
have believed that Mrs. Leith Fairfax would have behaved
as she has done. I was so angry at first that for
fully an hour I felt ill; and I spoke quite wickedly to
George the day after he arrived, because he said that
Sholto had better not take me down to dinner, although
his doing so was quite accidental. I know you will believe
me when I tell you that I was quite unconscious
that he had been unusually attentive to me; and I was
about to write you an indignant denial, only I shewed
Nelly your letter, and she crushed me by telling me she
had noticed it too. We nearly had a quarrel about it;
but she counted up the number of times I had danced
with him and sat beside him at dinner; and I suppose an
evil-minded woman looking on might think what Mrs.
Leith Fairfax thought. But there is no excuse for her.
She knows that Sholto and I have been intimate since
we were children; and there is something odious in her,
of all people, pretending to misunderstand us. What is
worse, she was particularly friendly and confidential with
me while she was here; and although I tried to keep
away from her at first, she persisted in conciliating me,
and persuaded me that Douglas had entirely mistaken
what she said that other time. Who could have expected
her to turn round and calumniate me the moment my
back was turned! How can people do such things! I
hope we shall not meet her again; for I will never speak
to her. I have not said anything to Douglas. How
could I? It would only make mischief. I feel that the
right course is to come home as soon as I can, and in the
meantime to avoid him as much as possible. So you
may expect me on Saturday next. Mr. McQuinch is
quite dismayed at my departure, which he says will be
the signal for a general breaking up; but this I cannot
help. I shall be glad to go home, of course. Still, I
am sorry to leave this place, where we have all been so
jolly. I will write and let you know what train I shall
come by; but you need not trouble to meet me, unless
you like: I can get home quite well by myself. After
all, it is just as well that I am getting away. It was
pleasant enough; but now I feel utterly disgusted with
everything and everybody. I find I must stop. They
have just come in from church; and I must go down.