Samuel Butler: The Way of All Flesh

29. CHAPTER XXIX (continued)

The pair said not a word to one another, but watched the fading light and naked trees, the brown fields with here and there a melancholy cottage by the road side, and the rain that fell fast upon the carriage windows. It was a kind of afternoon on which nice people for the most part like to be snug at home, and Theobald was a little snappish at reflecting how many miles he had to post before he could be at his own fireside again. However there was nothing for it, so the pair sat quietly and watched the roadside objects flit by them, and get greyer and grimmer as the light faded.

Though they spoke not to one another, there was one nearer to each of them with whom they could converse freely. "I hope," said Theobald to himself, "I hope he'll work--or else that Skinner will make him. I don't like Skinner, I never did like him, but he is unquestionably a man of genius, and no one turns out so many pupils who succeed at Oxford and Cambridge, and that is the best test. I have done my share towards starting him well. Skinner said he had been well grounded and was very forward. I suppose he will presume upon it now and do nothing, for his nature is an idle one. He is not fond of me, I'm sure he is not. He ought to be after all the trouble I have taken with him, but he is ungrateful and selfish. It is an unnatural thing for a boy not to be fond of his own father. If he was fond of me I should be fond of him, but I cannot like a son who, I am sure, dislikes me. He shrinks out of my way whenever he sees me coming near him. He will not stay five minutes in the same room with me if he can help it. He is deceitful. He would not want to hide himself away so much if he were not deceitful. That is a bad sign and one which makes me fear he will grow up extravagant. I am sure he will grow up extravagant. I should have given him more pocket-money if I had not known this--but what is the good of giving him pocket-money? It is all gone directly. If he doesn't buy something with it he gives it away to the first little boy or girl he sees who takes his fancy. He forgets that it's my money he is giving away. I give him money that he may have money and learn to know its uses, not that he may go and squander it immediately. I wish he was not so fond of music, it will interfere with his Latin and Greek. I will stop it as much as I can. Why, when he was translating Livy the other day he slipped out Handel's name in mistake for Hannibal's, and his mother tells me he knows half the tunes in the 'Messiah' by heart. What should a boy of his age know about the 'Messiah'? If I had shown half as many dangerous tendencies when I was a boy, my father would have apprenticed me to a greengrocer, of that I'm very sure," etc., etc.

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