Samuel Butler: The Way of All Flesh

70. CHAPTER LXX (continued)

Then there came an awful moment for both of us.

A knock, as of a visitor and not a postman, was heard at my door.

"Goodness gracious," I exclaimed, "why didn't we sport the oak? Perhaps it is your father. But surely he would hardly come at this time of day! Go at once into my bedroom."

I went to the door, and, sure enough, there were both Theobald and Christina. I could not refuse to let them in and was obliged to listen to their version of the story, which agreed substantially with Ernest's. Christina cried bitterly--Theobald stormed. After about ten minutes, during which I assured them that I had not the faintest conception where their son was, I dismissed them both. I saw they looked suspiciously upon the manifest signs that someone was breakfasting with me, and parted from me more or less defiantly, but I got rid of them, and poor Ernest came out again, looking white, frightened and upset. He had heard voices, but no more, and did not feel sure that the enemy might not be gaining over me. We sported the oak now, and before long he began to recover.

After breakfast, we discussed the situation. I had taken away his wardrobe and books from Mrs Jupp's, but had left his furniture, pictures and piano, giving Mrs Jupp the use of these, so that she might let her room furnished, in lieu of charge for taking care of the furniture. As soon as Ernest heard that his wardrobe was at hand, he got out a suit of clothes he had had before he had been ordained, and put it on at once, much, as I thought, to the improvement of his personal appearance.

Then we went into the subject of his finances. He had had ten pounds from Pryer only a day or two before he was apprehended, of which between seven and eight were in his purse when he entered the prison. This money was restored to him on leaving. He had always paid cash for whatever he bought, so that there was nothing to be deducted for debts. Besides this, he had his clothes, books and furniture. He could, as I have said, have had 100 pounds from his father if he had chosen to emigrate, but this both Ernest and I (for he brought me round to his opinion) agreed it would be better to decline. This was all he knew of as belonging to him.

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