Then, not content with trying to steal her love, Purdy had also sought to poison her mind against him. How that rankled! For until now he had hugged the belief that Purdys opinion of him was coloured by affection and respect, by the tradition of years. Whereas, from what Mary had let fall, he saw that the boy must have been sitting in judgment on him, regarding his peculiarities with an unloving eye, picking his motives to pieces: it was like seeing the child of your loins, of your hopes, your unsleeping care, turn and rend you with black ingratitude. Yes, everything went to prove Purdys unworthiness. Only HE had not seen it, only he had been blind to the truth. And wrapped in this smug blindness he had given his false friend the run of his home, setting, after the custom of the country, no veto on his eternal presence. Disloyalty was certainly abetted by just the extravagant, exaggerated hospitality of colonial life. Never must the doors of your house be shut; all you had you were expected to share with any sundowner new balance 620 of fortune who chanced to stop at your gate. The mare shied with a suddenness that almost unseated him: the next moment she had the bit between her teeth and was galloping down the road. Clomp-clomp-clomp went her hoofs on the baked clay; the dust smothered and stung, and he was holding for all he was worth to reins spanned stiff as iron. On they flew; his body hammered the saddle; his breath came sobbingly. But he kept his seat; and a couple of miles farther on he was down, soothing the wild-eyed, quivering, sweating beast, whose nostrils worked like a pair of bellows. There he stood, glancing now back along the road, now up at the sky. His hat had gone flying at the first unexpected plunge; he ought to return and look for it. But he shrank from the additional fatigue, the delay in reaching home this would mean. The sky was still overcast: he decided to risk it. Knotting his handkerchief he spread it cap-wise over his head and got back into the saddle. Mine own familiar friend! And more than that: he could add to Davids plaint and say, my only friend. In Purdy the one person he had been intimate with passed out of his life. There was nobody to take the vacant place. He had been far too busy of late years to form new friendships: what was left of him after the days work was done was but a kind of shell: the work was the meaty contents. As you neared the forties, too, it grew ever harder to fit yourself to other people: your outlook had become too set, your ideas too unfluid. Hence you clung the faster to ties formed in the old, golden days, worn though these might be to the thinness of a hair. And then, there was ones wife, of course ones dear, good wife. But just her very dearness and goodness served to hold possible intimates at arms length. The knowledge that you had such a confidante, that all your thoughts were shared with her, struck disastrously at a free exchange of privacies. No, he was alone. He had not so much as a dog now, to follow at heel and look up at him with the melancholy eyes of its race. Old Pompey had come at poison, and Mary had not wished to have a strange dog in the new house. She did not care for animals, and the main charge of it would have fallen on her. He had no time no time even for a dog! Better it would assuredly be to have some one to fall back on: it was not good for a man to stand so alone. Did troubles come, they would strike doubly hard because of it; then was the time to rejoice in a warm, human handclasp. And moodily pondering the reasons for his solitariness, he was once more inclined to lay a share of the blame on the conditions of the life. The population of the place was still in a state of flux: he and a mere handful of others would soon, he believed, be the oldest residents in Ballarat. People came and went, tried their luck, failed, and flitted off again, much as in the early days. What was new balance outlet uk the use of troubling to become better acquainted with a person, when, just as you began really to know him, he was up and away? At home, in the old country, a man as often as not died in the place where he was born; and the slow, eventless years, spent shoulder to shoulder, automatically brought about a kind of intimacy. But this was only a surface reason: there was another that went deeper. He had no talent for friendship, and he knew it; indeed, he would even invert the thing, and say bluntly that his nature had a twist in it which directly hindered friendship; and this, though there came moments when he longed, as your popular mortal never did, for close companionship. Sometimes he felt like a hungry man looking on at a banquet, of which no one invited him to partake, because he had already given it to be understood that he would decline. But such lapses were few. On nine days out of ten, he did not feel the need of either making or receiving confidences; he shrank rather, with a peculiar shy dread, from personal unbosomings. Some imp housed in him some wayward, wilful, mocking Irish devil bidding him hold back, remain cool, dry-eyed, in face of others joys and pains. Hence the break with Purdy was a real calamity. The associations of some five-and-twenty years were bound up in it; measured by it, ones marriage seemed a thing of yesterday. And even more than the friend, he would miss the friendship and all it stood for: this solid base of joint experience; this past of common memories into which one could dip as into a well; this handle of Do you remember?which opened the door to such a wealth of anecdote. From now on, the better part of his life would be a closed book to any but himself; there were allusions, jests without number, homely turns of speech, which not a soul but himself would understand. The thought of it made him feel old and empty; affected him like the news of a death.— But MUST new balance 751 it be? Was there no other way out? Slow to take hold, he was a hundred times slower to let go. Before now he had seen himself sticking by a person through misunderstandings, ingratitude, deception, to the blank wonder of the onlookers. Would he not be ready here, too, to forgive . . . to forget? But he felt hot, hot to suffocation, and his heart was pounding in uncomfortable fashion. The idea of stripping and plunging into ice-cold water began to make a delicious appeal to him. Nothing surpassed such a plunge after a broken night. But of late he had had to be wary of indulging: a bath of this kind, taken when he was over-tired, was apt to set the accursed tic a-going; and then he could pace the floor in agony. And yet. . . Good God, how hot it was! His head ached distractedly; an iron band of pain seemed to encircle it. With a sudden start of alarm he noticed that he had ceased to perspire now he came to think of it, not even the wild gallop had induced perspiration. Pulling up short, he fingered his pulse. It was abnormal
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