anxious for the time when he would go to his lodging, and leave us
together, but he was evidently jealous of leaving us together, and
sat late. It was midnight before I took him round to Essex-street,
and saw him safely in at his own dark door. When it closed upon
him, I experienced the first moment of relief I had known since the
night of his arrival.
Never quite free from an uneasy remembrance of the man on the
stairs, I had always looked about me in taking my guest out after
dark, and in bringing him back; and I looked about me now.
Difficult as it is in a large city to avoid the suspicion of being
watched, when the mind is conscious of danger in that regard, I
could not persuade myself that any of the people within sight cared
about my movements. The few who were passing, passed on their
several ways, and the street was empty when I turned back into the
Temple. Nobody had come out at the gate with us, nobody went in at
the gate with me. As I crossed by the fountain, I saw his lighted
back windows looking bright and quiet, and, when I stood for a few
moments in the doorway of the building where I lived, before going
up the stairs, Garden-court was as still and lifeless as the
staircase was when I ascended it.
Herbert received me with open arms, and I had never felt before, so
blessedly, what it is to have a friend. When he had spoken some
sound words of sympathy and encouragement, we sat down to consider
the question, What was to be done?
The chair that Provis had occupied still remaining where it had
stood - for he had a barrack way with him of hanging about one
spot, in one unsettled manner, and going through one round of
observances with his pipe and his negro-head and his jack-knife and
his pack of cards, and what not, as if it were all put down for him
on a slate - I say, his chair remaining where it had stood, Herbert
unconsciously took it, but next moment started out of it, pushed it
away, and took another. He had no occasion to say, after that, that
he had conceived an aversion for my patron, neither had I occasion
to confess my own. We interchanged that confidence without shaping
"What," said I to Herbert, when he was safe in another chair, "what
is to be done?"
"My poor dear Handel," he replied, holding his head, "I am too
stunned to think."
"So was I, Herbert, when the blow first fell. Still, something must
be done. He is intent upon various new expenses - horses, and
carriages, and lavish appearances of all kinds. He must be stopped
"You mean that you can't accept--"
"How can I?" I interposed, as Herbert paused. "Think of him! Look at
An involuntary shudder passed over both of us.
"Yet I am afraid the dreadful truth is, Herbert, that he is
attached to me, strongly attached to me. Was there ever such a
"My poor dear Handel," Herbert repeated.
"Then," said I, "after all, stopping short here, never taking
another penny from him, think what I owe him already! Then again: I
am heavily in debt - very heavily for me, who have now no
expectations - and I have been bred to no calling, and I am fit for
"Well, well, well!" Herbert remonstrated. "Don't say fit for
"What am I fit for? I know only one thing that I am fit for, and
that is, to go for a soldier. And I might have gone, my dear
Herbert, but for the prospect of taking counsel with your
friendship and affection."
Of course I broke down there: and of course Herbert, beyond seizing
a warm grip of my hand, pretended not to know it.
"Anyhow, my dear Handel," said he presently, "soldiering won't do.
If you were to renounce this patronage and these favours, I suppose
you would do so with some faint hope of one day repaying what you
have already had. Not very strong, that hope, if you went
soldiering! Besides, it's absurd.