hasn’t been a doctor near me since you came?”

“_I’m_ your doctor,” said the young man, taking his arm and drawing him

tenderly on again.

Morgan proceeded and after a few steps gave a sigh of mingled weariness

and relief. “Ah now that we look at the facts it’s all right!”

CHAPTER VII

They looked at the facts a good deal after this and one of the first

consequences of their doing so was that Pemberton stuck it out, in his

friend’s parlance, for the purpose. Morgan made the facts so vivid and

so droll, and at the same time so bald and so ugly, that there was

fascination in talking them over with him, just as there would have been

heartlessness in leaving him alone with them. Now that the pair had such

perceptions in common it was useless for them to pretend they didn’t

judge such people; but the very judgement and the exchange of perceptions

created another tie. Morgan had never been so interesting as now that he

himself was made plainer by the sidelight of these confidences. What

came out in it most was the small fine passion of his pride. He had

plenty of that, Pemberton felt—so much that one might perhaps wisely wish

for it some early bruises. He would have liked his people to have a

spirit and had waked up to the sense of their perpetually eating

humble-pie. His mother would consume any amount, and his father would

consume even more than his mother. He had a theory that Ulick had

wriggled out of an “affair” at Nice: there had once been a flurry at

home, a regular panic, after which they all went to bed and took

medicine, not to be accounted for on any other supposition. Morgan had a

romantic imagination, led by poetry and history, and he would have liked

those who “bore his name”—as he used to say to Pemberton with the humour

that made his queer delicacies manly—to carry themselves with an air.

But their one idea was to get in with people who didn’t want them and to

take snubs as it they were honourable scars. Why people didn’t want them

more he didn’t know—that was people’s own affair; after all they weren’t

superficially repulsive, they were a hundred times cleverer than most of

the dreary grandees, the “poor swells” they rushed about Europe to catch

up with. “After all they _are_ amusing—they are!” he used to pronounce

with the wisdom of the ages. To which Pemberton always replied:

“Amusing—the great Moreen troupe? Why they’re altogether delightful; and

if it weren’t for the hitch that you and I (feeble performers!) make in

the ensemble they’d carry everything before them.”

What the boy couldn’t get over was the fact that this particular blight

seemed, in a tradition of self-respect, so undeserved and so arbitrary.

No doubt people had a right to take the line they liked; but why should

his people have liked the line of pushing and toadying and lying and

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