Page:Tales of John Oliver Hobbes.djvu/241

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A Study in Temptations.

living on charity, and a sense of gratitude to the Battles, no less than his own self-pride, filled him with a desperate ambition to be independent, and make a name. His father had been that sad anomaly, an accountant with a literary faculty; his mother was a poetess, who died in her effort to rhyme "love" with "drudgery." From both parents he inherited a desire for the vague, and a disgust for the tangible.

"Have you no pride?" he said to Jane one day, when she had seemed more amused than awed by his ambitious ideas.

"We must beware of pride," said Jane, who hoped she sounded humble.

"That is the right sort of pride—to feel that you come of honest people, and must bring no shame to them," said the boy, hotly. "I am not going to be the pauper of the family!"

"But you are a genius," said Jane. "How can you expect to be rich when you are a genius? I think you are very discontented."

De Boys sighed, but, remembering her good qualities as a fighter, pitied her weak sex and not her poor spirit.

Some months after the foregoing conversation, the curate of the parish, driven to his wits' end by the increasing wants of an increasing family, was inspired to offer young Mauden instruction in the Classics, in exchange for Miss Caroline's milk and butter. At first she had shrunk from this nefarious traffic in dairy produce and the Pagan authors, but no sooner had her common sense assured her that the plan was hugely to the lad's advantage, than she became as strongly convinced of its innocence as she had been of its