THE ORDEAL OF RICHARD FEVEREL - V4
THE ORDEAL OF RICHARD FEVEREL - V4
XXVIII. RELATES HOW PREPARATIONS FOR ACTION WERE
CONDUCTED UNDER THE APRIL OF LOVERS
XIX. IN WHICH THE LAST ACT OF THE COMEDY TAKES
THE PLACE OF THE FIRST
XXX. CELEBRATES THE BREAKFAST
XXXI. THE PHILOSOPHER APPEARS IN PERSON
XXXII. PROCESSION OF THE CAKE
XXXIII. NURSING THE DEVIL
Beauty of course is for the hero. Nevertheless it is not always he on
whom beauty works its most conquering influence. It is the dull
commonplace man into whose slow brain she drops like a celestial light
and burns lastingly. The poet for instance is a connoisseur of beauty:
to the artist she is a model. These gentlemen by much contemplation of
her charms wax critical. The days when they had hearts being gone they
are haply divided between the blonde and the brunette; the aquiline nose
and the Proserpine; this shaped eye and that. But go about among simple
unprofessional fellows boors dunderheads and here and there you shall
find some barbarous intelligence which has had just strength enough to
conceive and has taken Beauty as its Goddess and knows but one form to
worship in its poor stupid fashion and would perish for her. Nay
more: the man would devote all his days to her though he is dumb as a
dog. And indeed he is Beauty's Dog. Almost every Beauty has her Dog.
The hero possesses her; the poet proclaims her; the painter puts her upon
canvas; and the faithful Old Dog follows her: and the end of it all is
that the faithful Old Dog is her single attendant. Sir Hero is revelling
in the wars or in Armida's bowers; Mr. Poet has spied a wrinkle; the
brush is for the rose in its season. She turns to her Old Dog then. She
hugs him; and he who has subsisted on a bone and a pat till there he
squats decrepit he turns his grateful old eyes up to her and has not a
notion that she is hugging sad memories in him: Hero Poet Painter in
one scrubby one! Then is she buried and the village hears languid
howls and there is a paragraph in the newspapers concerning the
extraordinary fidelity of an Old Dog.
Excited by suggestive recollections of Nooredeen and the Fair Persian
and the change in the obscure monotony of his life by his having quarters
in a crack hotel and living familiarly with West-End people--living on
the fat of the land (which forms a stout portion of an honest youth's
romance) Ripton Thompson breakfasted next morning with his chief at
half-past eight. The meal had been fixed overnight for seven but Ripton
slept a great deal more than the nightingale and (to chronicle his exact
state) even half-past eight rather afflicted his new aristocratic senses
and reminded him too keenly of law and bondage. He had preferred to
breakfast at Algernon's hour who had left word for eleven. Him
however it was Richard's object to avoid so they fell to and Ripton no
longer envied Hippias in bed. Breakfast done they bequeathed the
consoling information for Algernon that they were off to hear a popular
preacher and departed.
"How happy everybody looks!" said Richard in the quiet Sunday streets.
"Yes--jolly!" said Ripton.
"When I'm--when this is over I'll see that they are too--as many as I
can make happy" said the hero; adding softly: "Her blind was down at a
quarter to six. I think she slept well!"
"You've been there this morning?" Ripton exclaimed; and an idea of what
love was dawned upon his dull brain.
"Will she see me Ricky?"
"Yes. She'll see you to-day. She was tired last night."
Richard assured him that the privilege would be his.
"Here" he said coming under some trees in the park "here's where I
talked to you last night. What a time it seems! How I hate the night!"
On the way that Richard might have an exalted opinion of him Ripton
hinted decorously at a somewhat intimate and mysterious acquaintance with
the sex. Headings of certain random adventures he gave.
"Well!" said his chief "why not marry her?"
Then was Ripton shocked and cried "Oh!" and had a taste of the feeling
of superiority destined that day to be crushed utterly.
He was again deposited in Mrs. Berry's charge for a term that caused him
dismal fears that the Fair Persian still refused to show her face but
Richard called out to him and up Ripton went unaware of the
transformation he was to undergo. Hero and Beauty stood together to
receive him. From the bottom of the stairs he had his vivaciously
agreeable smile ready for them and by the time he entered the room his
cheeks were painfully stiff and his eyes had strained beyond their exact
meaning. Lucy with one hand anchored to her lover welcomed him kindly.
He relieved her shyness by looking so extremely silly. They sat down
and tried to commence a conversation but Ripton was as little master of
his tongue as he was of his eyes. After an interval the Fair Persian
having done duty by showing herself was glad to quit the room. Her lord
and possessor then turned inquiringly to Ripton.
"You don't wonder now Rip?" he said.
"No Richard!" Ripton waited to reply with sufficient solemnity "indeed
He spoke differently; he looked differently. He had the Old Dog's eyes
in his head. They watched the door she had passed through; they listened
for her as dogs' eyes do. When she came in bonneted for a walk his
agitation was dog-like. When she hung on her lover timidly and went
forth he followed without an idea of envy or anything save the secret
raptures the sight of her gave him which are the Old Dog's own. For
beneficent Nature requites him: His sensations cannot be heroic but they
have a fulness and a wagging delight as good in their way. And this
capacity for humble unaspiring worship has its peculiar guerdon. When
Ripton comes to think of Miss Random now what will he think of himself?
Let no one despise the Old Dog. Through him doth Beauty vindicate her
It did not please Ripton that others should have the bliss of beholding
her and as to his perceptions everybody did and observed her
offensively and stared and turned their heads back and interchanged
comments on her and became in a minute madly in love with her he had to
smother low growls. They strolled about the pleasant gardens of
Kensington all the morning under the young chestnut buds and round the
windless waters talking and soothing the wild excitement of their
hearts. If Lucy spoke Ripton pricked up his ears. She too made the
remark that everybody seemed to look happy and he heard it with thrills