"Undoubtedly. Is this the first time you have heard this?"
Mr. Bokenham did not improve in the estimation either of the constituency of Brocksopp, or of those in London who had the guidance of electioneering matters in the borough in the Liberal interest. The aspiring candidate was tolerably amenable at first, went down as often as the policy of such a course was suggested to him, and visited all the people whose names were on the list with which he was supplied; though his objectionable manner, and his evident lack of real interest in the place and its inhabitants, militated very much against his success. But after a little time he neglected even these slight means for cultivating popularity. A young man, with an excellent income, and with the prospect of a very large fortune on his father's death, has very little trouble in getting into such society as would be most congenial to him, more especially when that society is such as is most affected by the classes which he apes. Young Mr. Bokenham, whose chief desire in life was, as his sharp-seeing, keen-witted old father said of him, to "sink the shop," laid himself out especially for the company of men of birth and position, and he succeeded in hooking himself on to one of the fastest and most raffish sets in London. The fact that he was a novus homo,and that his father was "in trade," which had caused him to be held up to ridicule at Eton, and had rendered men shy of knowing him at Christchurch, had, he was delighted to perceive, no such effect in the great city. He began with a few acquaintances picked up in public, but, he speedily enlarged and improved his connection. The majors, with the billiard-table brevet, the captains, and the shabby old bucks of St. Alban's Place, with whom Tommy Bokenham at first consorted, were soon renounced for men of a widely different stamp, so far as birth and breeding were concerned, but with much the same tastes, and more means and opportunities of gratifying them. It is probable that Mr. Bokenham owed his introduction among these scions of the upper circles to a notion, prevalent among a certain section of them, that he might be induced to plunge into the mysteries of the turf, and to bet largely, even if he did not undertake a racing establishment. But they were entirely wrong. Young Tommy had not sufficient physical go and pluck in him for anything that required energy; he commanded his position in the set in which, to his great delight, at length he found himself, by giving elaborate dinners and occasionally lending money in moderate amounts, in return for which he was allowed to show himself in public in the company of his noble acquaintances, and was introduced by them to certain of their male and female friends, the latter of whom were especially frank and demonstrative in their reception and welcome of him.
family proper becomes a numerically smaller group. Enormous numbers of childless families appear; the middle-class family with two, or at most three, children is the rule rather than the exception in certain strata. This makes the family a less various and interesting group, with a smaller demand for attention, emotion, effort. Quite apart from the general mental quickening of the time, it leaves more and more social energy, curiosity, enterprise free, either to fret within the narrow family limits or to go outside them. The Strike against Parentage takes among other forms the form of a strike against marriage; great numbers of men and women stand out from a relationship which every year seems more limiting and (except for its temporary passional aspect) purposeless. The number of intelligent and healthy women inadequately employed, who either idle as wives in attenuated modern families, childless or with an insufficient child or so, or who work for an unsatisfying subsistence as unmarried women, increases. To them the complete conceptions
“You hoped to discover more? They are such stodgy old men.”
Perhaps, towards midnight, we would seek change in quietness, and, lying on rugs spread on the waxed floor, would listen to Norman singing, unaccompanied, an Irish Rebel song, and something a little hard would come into Irish Susie’s eyes for a moment or two, and I remember with regret how, some months after war had broken out, I said after Norman had been singing that it was no longer pleasant to me to hear Rebel songs. Regret? Yes; for when I said that I was a prig and was imagining myself as something of a soldier-hero. If only Norman were alive now to sing whatsoever songs he liked!
Half an hour later, his skin soothed with oil and his muscles suppled by Takeko's massage, Hartford joined the family for supper. The Kansans used paired sticks for eating. Hartford, who'd not yet been introduced to the skill of using these o-hashi, and who was too hungry to practice now, was given a metal spoon with which to eat.
Copyright © 2020