Samuel Butler: The Way of All Flesh


Ernest was now well turned twenty-six years old, and in little more than another year and a half would come into possession of his money. I saw no reason for letting him have it earlier than the date fixed by Miss Pontifex herself; at the same time I did not like his continuing the shop at Blackfriars after the present crisis. It was not till now that I fully understood how much he had suffered, nor how nearly his supposed wife's habits had brought him to actual want.

I had indeed noted the old wan worn look settling upon his face, but was either too indolent or too hopeless of being able to sustain a protracted and successful warfare with Ellen to extend the sympathy and make the inquiries which I suppose I ought to have made. And yet I hardly know what I could have done, for nothing short of his finding out what he had found out would have detached him from his wife, and nothing could do him much good as long as he continued to live with her.

After all I suppose I was right; I suppose things did turn out all the better in the end for having been left to settle themselves--at any rate whether they did or did not, the whole thing was in too great a muddle for me to venture to tackle it so long as Ellen was upon the scene; now, however, that she was removed, all my interest in my godson revived, and I turned over many times in my mind, what I had better do with him.

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