Page:Tales of John Oliver Hobbes.djvu/162

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The Sinner's Comedy.

be brilliant," said his college tutor once, "but I am afraid he is only solid. He will be a rock for other men to sharpen their wits on." To guess a man's fate is comparatively easy: to perceive its necessity, its why and wherefore, is given only to the man himself, and then after much seeking and through a mist.

The Dean's sister, Mrs. Molle, was the widow of an Irish major, who had left her his lame hunter, four very healthy little boys, and a dying command that she should do her duty by the children. Sacheverell awoke one morning to find the pitiful group on his doorstep in St. Thomas's-in-the-Lanes, where he held a small living.

"I knew you would be glad to have us," said Eleanor.

The next day his study was referred to as the drawing-room, and he was moved to the attic away from the children's noise. Eleanor soon complained, however, that the neighbourhood was dull, and the house far too small for comfort. She had no boudoir, and the nursery chimney smoked. She gave his old housekeeper notice, and lectured him on his want of ambition. As a means of advancement she advised that he should get a better living, in a decent neighbourhood; take pupils, and preach Somebody's funeral sermon. "A man is not supposed to keep a family on a Fellowship," she said. He glanced guiltily at his violin; it represented half a year's income.

"That," said Eleanor, "will lead to nothing but liver-complaint. Providence sent me to you at the right moment. You do nothing all day but play and dream and scribble. You surely spend a fortune on music-paper. I hope you get it at the Stores?"