Direktlänk till inlägg 4 maj 2011

So I imagine

Av lucyshanxu lucyshanxu - 4 maj 2011 06:29

I've never been able to understand why. It didn't occur to me that I might get killed; it seemed the natural thing to do. It wasn't really brave, because I never realised that there was danger." * * * In the afternoon James received a note from Mrs. Clibborn, asking him to call upon her. Mary and her father were out walking, she said, so there would be no one to disturb them, and they could have a pleasant little chat. The invitation was a climax to Jamie's many vexations, and he laughed grimly at the prospect of that very foolish lady's indignation. Still, he felt bound to go. It was, after a fashion, a point of honour with him to avoid none of the annoyances which his act had brought upon him. It was partly in order to face every infliction that he insisted on remaining at Little Primpton. "Why haven't you been to see me, James?" Mrs. Clibborn murmured, with a surprisingly tender smile. "I thought you wouldn't wish me to." "James!" She sighed and cast up her eyes to heaven. "I always liked you. I shall never feel differently towards you." "It's very kind of you to say so," replied James, somewhat relieved. "You must come and see me often. It'll comfort you." "I'm afraid you and Colonel Clibborn must be very angry with me?" "I could never be angry with you, James.... Poor Reginald, he doesn't understand! But you can't deceive a woman." Mrs. Clibborn put her hand on Jamie's arm and gazed into his eyes. "I want you to tell me something. Do you love anyone else?" James looked at her quickly and hesitated. "If you had asked me the other day, I should have denied it with all my might. But now--I don't know." Mrs. Clibborn smiled. "I thought so," she said. "You can tell me, you know." She was convinced that James adored her, but wanted to hear him say so. It is notorious that to a handsome woman even the admiration of a crossing-sweeper is welcome. "Oh, it's no good any longer trying to conceal it from myself!" cried James, forgetting almost to whom he was speaking. "I'm sorry about Mary; no one knows how much. But I do love someone else, and I love her with all my heart and soul; and I shall never get over it now." "I knew it," sighed Mrs. Clibborn, complacently, "I knew it!" Then looking coyly at him: "Tell me about her." "I can't. I know my love is idiotic and impossible; but I can't help it. It's fate." "You're in love with a married woman, James." "How d'you know?" "My poor boy, d'you think you can deceive me! And is it not the wife of an officer?" "Yes." "A very old friend of yours?" "It's just that which makes it so terrible." "I knew it." "Oh, Mrs. Clibborn, I swear you're the only woman here who's got two ounces of gumption. If they'd only listened to you five years ago, we might all have been saved this awful wretchedness." He could not understand that Mrs. Clibborn, whose affectations were manifest, whose folly was notorious, should alone have guessed his secret. He was tired of perpetually concealing his thoughts. "I wish I could tell you everything!" he cried.

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The Vicar of Little Primpton was an earnest man, and he devoted much care to the composition of his sermons. He was used to expound twice a Sunday the more obvious parts of Holy Scripture, making in twenty minutes or half an hour, for the benefit of the vulgar, a number of trite reflections; and it must be confessed that he had great facility for explaining at decorous length texts which were plain to the meanest intelligence. But having a fair acquaintance with the thought of others, Mr. Jackson flattered himself that he was a thinker; and on suitable occasions attacked from his village pulpit the scarlet weed of heresy, expounding to an intelligent congregation of yokels and small boys the manifold difficulties of the Athanasian Creed. He was at his best in pouring vials of contempt upon the false creed of atheists, Romanists, Dissenters, and men of science. The theory of Evolution excited his bitterest scorn, and he would set up, like a row of nine-pins, the hypotheses of the greatest philosophers of the century, triumphantly to knock them down by the force of his own fearless intellect. His congregation were inattentive, and convinced beyond the need of argument, so they remained pious members of the Church of England. But this particular sermon, after mature consideration, the Vicar had made up his mind to devote to a matter of more pressing interest. He repeated the text. Mrs. Jackson, who knew what was coming, caught the curate's eye, and looked significantly at James. The homily, in fact, was directed against him; his were the pride, the arrogancy, and the evil way. He was blissfully unconscious of these faults, and for a minute or two the application missed him; but the Vicar of Little Primpton, intent upon what he honestly thought his duty, meant that there should be no mistake. He crossed his t's and dotted his i's, with the scrupulous accuracy of the scandal-monger telling a malicious story about some person whom charitably he does not name, yet wishes everyone to identify. Colonel Parsons started when suddenly the drift of the sermon dawned upon him, and then bowed his head with shame. His wife looked straight in front of her, two flaming spots upon her pale cheeks. Mary, in the next pew, dared not move, hardly dared breathe; her heart sank with dismay, and she feared she would faint. "How he must be suffering!" she muttered. They all felt for James intensely; the form of Mr. Jackson, hooded and surpliced, had acquired a new authority, and his solemn invective was sulphurous with the fires of Hell. They wondered how James could bear it. "He hasn't deserved this," thought Mrs. Parsons. But the Colonel bent his head still lower, accepting for his son the reproof, taking part of it himself. The humiliation seemed merited, and the only thing to do was to bear it meekly. James alone appeared unconcerned; the rapid glances at him saw no change in his calm, indifferent face. His eyes were closed, and one might have thought him asleep. Mr. Jackson noted the attitude, and attributed it to a wicked obstinacy. For the repentant sinner, acknowledging his fault, he would have had entire forgiveness; but James showed no contrition. Stiff-necked and sin-hardened, he required a further chastisement. "Courage, what is courage?" asked the preacher. "There is nothing more easy than to do a brave deed when the blood is hot. But to conduct one's life simply, modestly, with a meek spirit and a Christ-like submission, that is ten times more difficult Courage, unaccompanied by moral worth, is the quality of a brute-beast." He showed how much more creditable were the artless virtues of honesty and truthfulness; how better it was to keep one's word, to be kind-hearted and dutiful. Becoming more pointed, he mentioned the case which had caused them so much sorrow, warning the delinquent against conceit and self-assurance. "Pride goeth before a fall," he said. "And he that is mighty shall be abased." * * * They walked home silently, Colonel Parsons and his wife with downcast eyes, feeling that everyone was looking at them. Their hearts were too full for them to speak to one another, and they dared say nothing to James. But Major Forsyth had no scruples of delicacy; he attacked his nephew the moment they sat down to dinner. "Well, James, what did you think of the sermon? Feel a bit sore?" "Why should I?" "I fancy it was addressed pretty directly to you." "So I imagine," replied James, good-humouredly smiling. "I thought it singularly impertinent, but otherwise uninteresting." "Mr. Jackson doesn't think much of you," said Uncle William, with a laugh, ignoring his sister's look, which implored him to be silent. "I can bear that with equanimity. I never set up for a very wonderful person." "He was wrong to make little of your attempt to save young Larcher," said Mrs. Parsons, gently. "Why?" asked James. "He was partly right. Physical courage is more or less accidental. In battle one takes one's chance. One soon gets used to shells flying about; they're not so dangerous as they look, and after a while one forgets all about them. Now and then one gets hit, and then it's too late to be nervous."


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