Page:Tales of John Oliver Hobbes.djvu/406

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A Bundle of Life.

I was telling you about this fellow. It seems he was christened Sidney Wiche; his mother said that his name was at least Christian if it was not legal! I am thankful to say I never met her. I do not pretend to be a saint, but a woman without a conscience strikes me dumb! I feel that there is nothing more to say!"

"Conscience is the name which the orthodox give to their prejudices," said Van Huyster. "But have you ever heard," he went on, drawing out his pocketbook, "that Wiche's father left a very eccentric will? I received this from New York last night." He handed a newspaper cutting to Sir Ventry, who read the following:—

"Sidney Wiche was to be first a Christum, then a scholar, and in course of time a philosophical politician. He was not to marry, ' but,' ran the strange document, 'should he feel drawn towards the married state let him give the matter his best consideration for a no less term than five years, since marriage is of all subjects the one most darkened by fallacy, falsehood, and false sentiment.' During this period of prayer and reflection he was to read 'neither poets nor romancers, but St. Thomas Aquinas, Cardinal Newman, and the great historians, who, between them, would so satisfy his soul, his manliness, and his common-sense that after their company any feminine prattler would seem a plague rather than a treasure?' He was to shun 'as he would the devil, learned ladies, ladies with artistic gifts, ladies who talked religion, and ladies who were not ladies! 'In conclusion, he was earnestly exhorted to practise the pious exercise of meditating for two hours daily on his own nothingness!"