Page:The Voyage Out.djvu/146

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He died when I was ten in the hunting field. I can remember his body coming home, on a shutter I suppose, just as I was going down to tea, and noticing that there was jam for tea, and wondering whether I should be allowed——"

"Yes; but keep to the facts," Hirst put in.

"I was educated at Winchester and Cambridge, which I had to leave after a time. I have done a good many things since——"


"None—at least——"


"Literary. I'm writing a novel."

"Brothers and sisters?"

"Three sisters, no brother, and a mother."

"Is that all we're to hear about you?" said Helen. She stated that she was very old—forty last October, and her father had been a solicitor in the city who had gone bankrupt, for which reason she had never had much education—they lived in one place after another—but an elder brother used to lend her books.

"If I were to tell you everything——" she stopped and smiled. "It would take too long," she concluded. "I married when I was thirty, and I have two children. My husband is a scholar. And now—it's your turn," she nodded at Hirst.

"You've left out a great deal," he reproved her. "My name is St. John Alaric Hirst," he began in a jaunty tone of voice. "I'm twenty-four years old. I'm the son of the Reverend Sidney Hirst, vicar of Great Wappyng in Norfolk. Oh, I got scholarships everywhere—Westminster—King's. I'm now a fellow of King's. Don't it sound dreary? Parents both alive (alas). Two brothers and one sister. I'm a very distinguished young man," he added.

"One of the three, or is it five, most distinguished men in England," Hewet remarked.

"Quite correct," said Hirst.

"That's all very interesting," said Helen after a pause. "But of course we've left out the only questions that matter. For instance, are we Christians?"

"I am not," "I am not," both the young men replied.