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.The doubt flashed upon his mind while he was trying to eat and converse with becoming self-possession.He dug his heel into the carpet and silently cursed the burden of his servitude.When the meal was over, Mr.Moxey led the way out into the garden.Christian walked apart with Janet: Godwin strolled about between his host and the eldest Miss Moxey, talking of he knew not what.In a short half-hour he screwed up his courage to the point of leave-taking.Marcella and three of her cousins had disappeared, so that the awkwardness of departure was reduced.Christian, who seemed to be in a very contented mood, accompanied the guest as far as the garden gate.'What will be your special line of work when you leave Whitelaw?' he inquired.'Your tastes seem about equally divided between science and literature.''I haven't the least idea what I shall do,' was Peak's reply.'Very much my own state of mind when I came home from Zurich a year ago.But it had been taken for granted that I was preparing for business, so into business I went.' He laughed good-humouredly.'Perhaps you will be drawn to London?''Yes—I think it likely,' Godwin answered, with an absent glance this way and that.'In any case,' pursued the other, 'you'll be there presently for First B.A.Honours.Try to look in at my rooms, will you? I should be delighted to see you.Most of my day is spent in the romantic locality of Rotherhithe, but I get home about five o'clock, as a rule.Let me give you a card.''Thank you.''I daresay we shall meet somewhere about here before then.Of course you are reading hard, and haven't much leisure.I'm an idle dog, unfortunately.I should like to work, but I don't quite know what at.I suppose this is a transition time with me.'Godwin tried to discover the implication of this remark.Had it any reference to Miss Janet Moxey? Whilst he stood in embarrassed silence, Christian looked about with a peculiar smile, and seemed on the point of indulging in further self-revelation; but Godwin of a sudden held out his hand for good-bye, and with friendly smiles they parted.Peak was older than his years, and he saw in Christian one who might prove a very congenial associate, did but circumstances favour their intercourse.That was not very likely to happen, but the meeting at all events turned his thoughts to London once more.His attempts to 'read' were still unfruitful.For one thing, the stress and excitement of the Whitelaw examinations had wearied him; it was characteristic of the educational system in which he had become involved that studious effort should be called for immediately after that frenzy of college competition.He ought now to have been 'sweating' at his London subjects.Instead of that, he procured works of general literature from a Twybridge library, and shut himself up with them in the garret bedroom.A letter from Mr.Gunnery informed him that the writer would be home in a day or two.This return took place late one evening, and on the morrow Godwin set forth to visit his friend.On reaching the house, he learnt that Mr.Gunnery had suffered an accident which threatened serious results.Walking barefoot in his bedroom the night before, he had stepped upon the point of a large nail, and was now prostrate, enduring much pain.Two days elapsed before Godwin could be admitted; he then found the old man a mere shadow of his familiar self—bloodless, hollow-eyed.'This is the kind of practical joke that Fate likes to play upon us!' the sufferer growled in a harsh, quaking voice, his countenance divided between genial welcome and surly wrath.'It'll be the end of me.Pooh! who doesn't know that such a thing is fatal at my age? Blood-poisoning has fairly begun.I'd a good deal rather have broken my neck among honest lumps of old red sandstone.A nail! A damned Brummagem nail!—So you collared the first prize in geology, eh? I take that as a kindness, Godwin.You've got a bit beyond Figuier and his Deluge, eh? His Deluge, bah!'And he laughed discordantly.On the other side of the bed sat Mrs Gunnery, grizzled and feeble dame.Shaken into the last stage of senility by this alarm, she wiped tears from her flaccid cheeks, and moaned a few unintelligible words.The geologist's forecast of doom was speedily justified.Another day bereft him of consciousness, and when, for a short while, he had rambled among memories of his youth, the end came.It was found that he had made a will, bequeathing his collections and scientific instruments to Godwin Peak: his books were to be sold for the benefit of the widow, who would enjoy an annuity purchased out of her husband's savings.The poor old woman, as it proved, had little need of income; on the thirteenth day after Mr.Gunnery's funeral, she too was borne forth from the house, and the faithful couple slept together [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]