The Will to Live by Logan Pearsall Smith
"Moral Philosophy," notwithstanding all its modern ideas and
developments, is still taught at Oxford from the Greek texts of Plato
and Aristotle. Something indeed of the old Academic discipline might be
said still to exist there, the tradition of it coming down through the
Schools of the Middle Ages. Certainly the discussions between tutor and
pupils, by means of which so much of the philosophic training is carried
on, are not without a certain resemblance to the Socratic dialogues.
And the young men who are so eager and amusing in Plato's writings—one
might find the like of these, perhaps, among the English undergraduates,
as well as the types with which modern novels have made us more
familiar. The questions they talk and think about would at least be much
the same as those so eagerly debated in the Athenian garden—the old
questions about Truth and Justice and Beauty; and then the meaning or
purpose of Life—that question which is the oldest of all, and which
each generation of youth tries to solve in some new way.
"Good night, sir"—"Good night"—"Good night"—and their discussion
ended, the young men took their caps and books, and clattered noisily
down the stone staircase from the tutor's room. They still lingered a
moment, outside in the quadrangle, four or five together, vaguely
talking in the darkness.
"Ames was right, you know—what he said about Pleasure."
"Old Ames! what does he know about it?" Waters interrupted. More than
once, during the argument that evening, Waters had dropped a book or
shuffled his feet impatiently; and now, declaring that all such talk was
great waste of time and "rot" anyhow, he went off, after vainly inviting
the others to join him, to an interrupted game of cards. In a minute the
others separated, some to work, one or two to the concert in the college
hall. Walter Cornish walked away alone across the quadrangle. Finding a
bench, he sat listlessly down, his hands in his pockets, his feet
stretched out in front of him. He would do no more work that night; it
would be better to rest there for a while, listening to the music of the
Cornish, with the others, would be in for his last examinations in a few
weeks; then he would be leaving Oxford. But as he had money enough of
his own, and belonged moreover to that fortunate class of young Oxford
men to whom success at everything seems easy, he could look into the
future, untroubled by most of those commonplace difficulties and
despairs that beset the ordinary unknown, untried, young man, when he is
leaving the university to go out into the world.
It seemed very hot that evening; no breath of air was stirring within
the enclosure of those trees and walls. From the open windows of the
college hall tinkling piano notes came faintly now and then across the
darkness; while, drifting in over the roofs of the college, and
deadening at times the music, there came, like a dim smoke of sound, the
rumour of city noises, of carts, footsteps, and high faint voices in
the street outside. But as Cornish sat there lazily, his hands deep in
his pockets, his eyes fixed on the ground, he soon ceased to hear either
the music or the sounds of the streets. Vagrant thoughts about himself,
his own affairs and prospects, were going through his head. Then phrases
from their argument—Pleasure wasn't the End, and the End wasn't
Pleasure; but whose pleasure, and the end of what? To his tired mind,
however, the words were little more than empty sounds. Other things he
had been studying floated past in large dim masses; he remembered the
armies, invasions, and old battles of history; the Roman Empire seemed
to be near him, like something immense and heavy in the night. And
behind it in the past were the Persian, Assyrian, Egyptian Dominations,
with the weight of all their millions and millions of lives!
He was going to do well in the examinations, he knew; more or less
mechanically he repeated over what his tutor had said, and some
flattering words the Warden had written to his father—"We consider him
one of our best men; he is certain to distinguish himself."
"But what's the good of it all?" he found himself asking. He looked up
at the college buildings, dark about him, save for their squares of
yellow windows. Gradually he began to wake out of his vacant reverie.
What was the good of doing well?—why, it was an absurd question; of
course, he wanted to do well, to win honour for himself and his College.
He assured himself of this, in conventional phrases, but somehow, just
then, he did not seem to care in the least for success like that, and
honour. Yet here he had been, all this time, working for nothing else!
He was ashamed of this want of ambition, this deadness of desire. Of
course, there were other things he cared for, he told himself, and to
prove this he brought to mind the interests and pleasures of his
ordinary life—his friendships, the ideas and books he believed in, his
public speaking, the positions he held in various societies. But somehow
all these seemed utterly foolish, futile, and unimportant. In
desperation he began to think of simpler things—of boating, good
clothes, and horses, and some riding boots he was having made. But
everything, even the most universal pleasures of life, struck him now as
tasteless and absurd. Why did people do such things, and what could they
find in them to enjoy?
"But it's against common sense to feel this way!" he said to himself. He
had always thought the disillusions of youth somewhat ridiculous, and
often had made fun of the modern philosophy, or pseudo-philosophy, of
disenchantment, with its literature of passion and despair. And now, as
he sat there in the familiar quadrangle, with the rooms of his friends
about him, all the people he knew so well, in there at the concert, he
was uncomfortably aware of how absurd they would think it, should they
know that he too had secretly begun, in the old, foolish, hackneyed way,
to meditate on the nothingness of life. He of all people, who had always
taken such sensible, commonplace views of things!
"Well, it will be different soon; I shall have things to work for that
really are worth while," he told himself. Hitherto, when he had felt any
futility in his life, he had put it down to the youthfulness of his
occupations, feeling sure that the world beyond his school or college,
with its great interests and ambitions, would give endless objects of
desire. But now, in spite of himself, he could not help asking—what
were those great interests and ambitions after all?
Almost comically there rose before his mind pictures of all the
middle-aged people he knew—his relatives, his father's friends—large,
solemn, successful people, who were thought, and thought themselves,
very important. And the dull speeches they made, and the way they often
grew red and angry, as they argued about the Government, or the Eastern
question! And their houses, their wives and dinner parties, their social
differences and ambitions, and the way they pushed and struggled for
money and titles! What was the value of it all; to succeed or fail, what
difference did it make? He tried to imagine himself at the head of what
would be his profession, as Lord Chancellor—a fat and bald Lord
Chancellor in stuffy robes—wasn't that the position that young men were
supposed to be ambitious of attaining? Or if he should make a fortune,
or write a famous book, or carry some great reform through Parliament?
But, somehow, he did not seem to care; and gradually, as he listened to
the far-off rumour of the city, it came to sound faintly in his ears
like a voice of blind craving—as if the agitation of the world and life
were meaningless and vain. And he would go out into it, he knew, would
struggle and push with the others....
Now from the open windows, sounds of music floated again across the
quadrangle. He could picture to himself the audience, all those rows of
young men, sitting there in the hot air and gaslight. Indeed, he could
almost see, he felt, into the rows of minds—if you could call them
minds—behind all those heads: the ridiculous images of hope and cheap
romance wakened by the music, the foolish dreams of the future, and
false, poetic ideas of life.
Pity the poets and novelists could not invent something a little more
true to life! Cornish thought. For after all they had but two receipts:
either they enlarged the world into a glorious and unreal place, full of
love, success, and eternal sunshine, or else they magnified poor human
nature, and invented towering, Byronic heroes, who could find nothing in
a shrunken universe worthy of their passionate souls.
The music finished in a noise of long and loud applause. How all of them
enjoyed it; how all of them believed in it, he thought; finding
something foolish and inane in these sounds of clapping hands and
pounding feet. A little while afterwards the concert ended, and the
audience, a vague press of people, began to murmur and move down the
steps of the hall, and pass him in the darkness. But now the sound of
their footsteps and cheerful retreating voices came back to him almost
sadly. A whole generation of youth, they seemed to him, as he sat there
almost like some remote spectator—a whole generation of youth, those
young men, pouring out of that ancient hall and passing away into the
They were all gone at last; one by one the bright windows in the hall
grew dark. Cornish still sat there alone. These voices and footsteps and
dim figures, moving past him thus in the darkness, had left his mind
curiously vibrating. So life went by, he thought, a few careless steps
together on the brief-trodden path, a few words, a few greetings, and
then the darkness and silence of death. What a curious mystery it was,
this life, so vivid and brief in each of those passers by; the life he
was conscious of in himself, as he sat there alone—the sound of his
breath, the blood beating at his temples, the "soul" within—what was
the meaning of it all, and for what reason was it given?
Surely this was the question of philosophy—the very question they had
discussed that evening! And now, for the first time, he realized that
the theories and systems he had been studying so long were not mere
exercises of thought, and abstract speculations, but almost passionate
attempts to explain the meaning of existence—of his own existence!
But the great solutions of the philosophers—Aristotle's
"Contemplation," Kant's "Moral Law," the "Calculated Pleasure" of the
Hedonists, and all the rest—there seemed to be a mortal coldness in
them all. Surely they could never give a motive, or make life desirable
to anyone! Vaguely dismayed at this conclusion, he repeated over to
himself all the words again. Still he could find in them no motive for
existence; and in a dim way he began to feel half proud of this
discernment. Yes, Waters had been right after all, (and somehow he
pitied both Waters and himself), philosophy was but a barren waste. And
the picture of a great desert filled his mind—a desert of endless sand.
When he was again conscious of himself, for a moment he wondered where
he was, confused by the discomfort of his position, and the coolness of
the air. Then through the darkness he saw, outlined against the starry
sky, the trees and buildings of the College quadrangle, and remembered
how he had sat down there to rest after their discussion. He must have
fallen asleep, and now it was late—the night had grown completely
silent, and only one or two windows shone yellow in the blackness of the
walls. What had their argument been about? he began to ask himself; but,
chancing to look up again, he forgot everything in his wonder at the
brilliance of the stars. The whole patch of sky, shut in by the dark
College roofs, quivered and glowed with shining stars; he thought he had
never seen the vault of heaven so wonderful and luminous.
The long, faint sigh of a passing train on the distant railway brought
back his thoughts at last, out of their vague wonder, to the earth and
himself again. His imagination wandered after the train as it went
through the night towards London. Soon he would be in London himself, he
thought, smiling. It was not three weeks now. There were some dances he
was going to, and a cricket match, and the theatre, of course....
But then a vague sense of misfortune weighed him down, and in a moment
he remembered how, a little while before, he had decided that life was
altogether inane and meaningless. How was it that he had grown so
foolishly eager again? No secret had been revealed to him; he had found
no meaning behind desire, no purpose in existence. Yet here he was,
looking forward to dances, actually counting the days to a cricket
match! It was absurd for a self-conscious spirit to desire such things
as these, especially after surveying life and philosophy, and finding
there was no reason why you should desire anything at all!
But somehow Cornish did not seem to need a reason now; success, love,
friendship, and even dances and cricket matches, he desired these things
for themselves, they shone with their own brightness; no theory, no
sanction of Greek or German philosophy could possibly make him want
them more. How was it that there were desires that reason did not give?
He puzzled over this, till at last he saw the question was rather a
meaningless one, a question of words only. For desire of life came long
before reasoning about it; reason did not sit aloft in a purer air,
creating out of itself the meanings of experience. It could create no
desires, could give us indeed none of the ultimate facts of life, for
the ideas it used were all abstracted from things our direct perceptions
gave us. And the existence of these things themselves—the blue sky, the
solid earth, the sweetness of youth and sunshine—it could never prove,
it did not need to prove! When, a little while before, he had felt no
desire, reason had not helped him. And now he did not want its help.
The striking clocks told Cornish the lateness of the hour, and he got
up to go in. As he walked across the quadrangle he heard voices and
laughter in the darkness, and dimly saw a group of young men come out of
a doorway in front of him.
"Well, have you had a good game, Waters?" he asked, as he joined them.
"Oh, a ripping game. What have you been doing?"
"Thinking! Lord, I'd turn looney if I thought so much. What's the good
of it? You'd much better have taken a hand."
Cornish laughed. "Well, I believe you're right," he said.
The Will to Live
William Waters had dreamed that the Persians, in a fleet of Canadian
canoes, had come up the Thames to attack the College barge, and that he
himself had been sent on foot to demand reinforcements from the Oxford
examiners at Sparta. And after the weary, breathless running, the
hopeless search, in his dream, for the right Greek words, it was most
delightful to open his eyes and find himself comfortably lying in his
familiar bedroom, with the sunlight glowing on the blinds.
"Why am I so happy?" he asked himself, and then he remembered that it
was all over now; for the future he would never have to trouble about
Greek or examinations, or getting up in the morning, or any of their
stupid rules and worries. For the future! As he lay there, lazily
opening and shutting his eyes, vague, bright pictures of the life before
him floated through his mind, and set his heart beating a little
William Waters was the son of a business man in a northern town, who,
with some sacrifice, had sent him, the eldest son, to the University, in
order that his education, and the connections he would form, might help
him on in the world. Now that the young man, after a lucky scramble
through the examinations, had just finished four pleasant years of
Oxford life, it was his vague purpose to find some occupation in London,
something pleasant and gentlemanly, which would enable him to live as
"Of course, sir, I know one can't expect anything very much at first,"
he said, half aloud, as he imagined himself talking modestly and
sensibly to his tutor. For he was going to talk about it to Ames; old
Ames wasn't such a fool about things of that kind. "There is no nonsense
about that young Waters," Ames would say afterwards; "a modest, sensible
chap, the kind of man who'll always do well." Waters was determined to
do well of course; he would get on, he told himself, when people came to
realize how hard he worked. And as the young man lay there in bed, he
decided that in the future no one should ever accuse him of laziness and
neglecting work. By simply making up his mind to it, he thought he would
entirely change his character, and begin life anew, winning position
and wealth by his own unremitting industry.
Buller and Antrobus would be in London, he told himself, and Philpotts,
most likely, and they would belong to the same club, where they would go
on Sunday mornings to smoke and read the sporting papers. He would work
tremendously hard, of course, spending laborious nights over his books,
but he would also go out a great deal into society. He would not be
dissipated—he didn't care much for that—but still he would not be
Puritanical either. He meant to be moral and steady, and at the same
time he would enjoy the pleasures of a man of the world. But he would be
always kind and popular; people in fashionable society would say that
William Waters was such a good fellow, and in the Park ladies would
smile at him from their carriages, and smart young men would walk with
him arm in arm. And he would live well; but still he would save money,
and would soon pay off his Oxford bills, and send money to his father.
For he would always be very kind to his people, having his sisters to
visit him, helping them to marry well (he himself meant to marry someone
for love who was very rich), and sometimes he would give up parties at
country houses in order to pay them visits at home. How his fur coat and
knowledge of the great world would impress all the neighbours!
"But I must get up," Waters said to himself, remembering how he was to
go and see his tutor and talk over plans. And after luncheon Buller was
going to drive them out, three of them, with his tandem to Woodstock.
And thinking vaguely of this drive, and of some new clothes that he
meant to wear, Waters was just falling off to sleep again, when his
bull-dog came rushing up the stairs, and began to whine and scratch at
the door. Rousing himself, Waters jumped up, and went with a call of
affection to the door to let Lo-Ben in.
After he had bathed and dressed himself in his new fresh-smelling
clothes, the young man sauntered into the sitting-room of his lodgings,
and rang the bell for breakfast. The day was bright; Waters felt
wonderfully fresh and well; there were pleasant aches in his arms and
legs as he moved, for the whole of the day before he had been rowing on
After breakfast he was just sitting down to smoke his pipe comfortably,
when, looking at his watch, he snatched up his cap and rusty gown, and
started out towards College. By Jove! what a day it was! He walked along
through the sunshine, smiling to himself, while Lo-Ben barked and
bounced from side to side. It was a good world, Waters thought a good
world, and now he was really going to enjoy it.
As Waters was tying up Lo-Ben in the College porch, he was seized on
suddenly from behind.
"Come along, fat William," they cried, pulling and pushing him along,
"we're going to have a little game—you must take a hand."
Twisting himself around, as he struggled, Waters recognized two of his
friends, and appealed to reason breathlessly; he had to go and see old
Ames, on his honour he had; he would look in afterwards, in about
half-an-hour, and stay to luncheon if they liked. So he started across
the quadrangle, looking back and smiling and shaking his head, as he
dodged the bits of gravel with which they pelted him. It was a good
place after all, the old College, Waters thought, when he was out of
danger and could look about. He remembered the two years he had lived
in rooms looking out on this quadrangle; the pleasant hours he had
spent, sitting in the window with his pipe, or lying on the grass whole
Sunday afternoons, lazily reading, or talking with his friends; he
thought of the beautiful chapel, and the old hall that was so much
admired, and how he had sat up a tree one evening and poured water on
the Dean, and how at night the stealthy bonfires had blazed up red and
sudden in the dark.
He was really sorry to leave the old place, he thought sentimentally,
remembering the emotions he had read of as felt by young men in books
when about to leave their school or college. But then, with healthy
common-sense, he told himself that all they wrote in books about your
college days, and life never being so happy afterwards, was damned
nonsense. Waters knew how men lived in London!
"Sorry I'm late, sir," he said as he entered his tutor's room,
addressing the spare shining head that was bent over a heap of papers.
Mr. Ames raised his worn, cynical, kind face, and looked at Waters with
short-sighted eyes. "Oh, no matter, sit down won't you, Waters," and he
gave a last hurried shuffle to his papers. Waters thought that Ames must
spend his life looking for lost papers; and although occasionally
surprised by flashes of almost supernatural knowledge in his tutor, for
the most part he entertained—as a heathen might towards his helpless,
yet vaguely awful, idol—a certain good-natured pity for the
absent-minded, easily outwitted man.
"I thought I'd like to talk things over with you a little," Waters said,
sitting down in a chair that groaned with his athletic weight. "I must
decide what I shall choose, what to go in for."
"To go in for?" Ames repeated, looking at him vaguely.
"I mean, I must choose"; Waters found a pleasure in talking, not as an
undergraduate, but as a serious young man. "One must do something of
"Of course it is better," Ames assented, though he still looked rather
"I thought I'd talk to you about the Bar, or something of the kind."
Ames looked at him blankly. "Talk to me about the Bar?"
"Yes, I thought I'd better ask your advice."
"Do you mean for yourself?" Ames asked after a moment, "but I
supposed—I always supposed you were going into your father's business;
he has some business, hasn't he, or am I wrong?"
"Into my father's business!" Waters laughed comfortably. "No, I
shouldn't ever think of that. No, I want to live in London."
"Oh, I see!"
"Yes, of course if anything very good was offered me somewhere
else,—but no, I think I prefer London. What would you advise?"
"What I should advise!" Ames said, looking at him hopelessly. "I suppose
you've thought of something for yourself; you have some preference?"
"Preference? Oh no, nothing special. I thought I'd ask you."
Again Ames looked at him with an odd expression. Then in his polite,
weary, equable voice, he said, "Well, I must try and think. I suppose
your father—what does he want you to do?"
"My father—!" Waters' voice showed what he thought of fathers. "Oh, he
said that if I had a university education, there would be something."
"Ah, did he! Well, I suppose he ought to know," Ames said doubtfully.
"Oh, he doesn't know of anything definite," Waters explained; and then,
speaking loudly, as if to a deaf man, he added, "It was only what he
"Ah, that's quite different, isn't it?" Ames exclaimed, his face
"But surely there is a great deal to do in London," Waters continued.
Yes, there must be a good deal, Ames admitted doubtfully; at least
everyone seemed very much occupied there.
"All I want is some work, that isn't too much grind, and decent pay."
"Ah, that is all that most people want," Ames observed, with half a
"Of course at first I shouldn't expect anything very much," Waters went
on, hardly heeding his tutor's vague remarks; and he explained again
that he only wanted some decent occupation, with pay enough to live on.
Then he waited, gazing at his tutor's blank face as one might gaze at a
revolving lighthouse, waiting for its flash of light. As nothing came,
however, he said, "Surely there are lots of places where they want
"Possibly there were"; Ames looked as if he, however, had never heard of
"But Grant and Vaughan had got good places, and Sturdy, they said, was
doing well at the Bar."
"Ah, I see you mean those clever men, who do so well in the Schools and
all. You're quite right; a man like Cornish for instance; I thought you
meant more the average man."
No, it wasn't Cornish, Waters meant; it wasn't the average man either.
"I mean more the man—what you call an all-round-man."
"What I call an all-round-man?" Ames looked bewildered.
"I mean," Waters continued, with desperate efforts to explain himself,
"I mean the man who is rather good all round, rows, and that sort of
thing. Perhaps he didn't get a First; didn't care much what he got,
didn't approve of the system."
Ames seemed busy looking for his glasses.
"There are people who don't approve of the system," Waters went on. "I
read an article once by someone, Professor something, not approving of
examinations. I forget just who it was."
"Professor Freeman, perhaps?"
"Yes, that's it! Well now, a man like that, what is he going to do?"
Waters asked, with renewed confidence.
"But Professor Freeman is dead, you know."
"But,—but,—I'm not speaking of Professor Freeman."
"How would you like to be a solicitor?" Ames asked, putting on his
"A solicitor! oh, I shouldn't care for that," Waters promptly replied.
"You see it isn't the kind of work I like, and then the vacations are
Ames said nothing. He was sitting unusually still, and his large glasses
reflecting the light, resembled two enormous shining oval eyes in the
smoothness of his face. What he was really looking at Waters could not
tell, and he grew more and more uncomfortable. At last, with diminished
confidence, "There are men who get on well at the Bar?" he said.
"And if I were living in London I might do some writing? They do that,
"They do." Then Ames sighed and shook his head. "I think you had better
go home, Waters," he added; "I'm afraid there's nothing else. If you had
spoken to me before, I should have told you this."
"Oh, good Lord, Mr. Ames, you don't mean there's nothing!" Waters sat up
in his chair, with open mouth, staring at his tutor.
"Well, you know, I'm afraid there isn't."
"Oh but, Mr. Ames, there must be something!"
"Well you can try; but honestly, I think you had—if your father can
have you—I think you had better go home."
Waters looked at him. "He knows I helped to paint his door red last
week," the young man muttered to himself, "and now he's furious about
But the comfort of this ebbed away gradually, as Ames went on to
describe the different professions, the struggle for success, the cruel
competition. Ames indeed seemed to have focussed himself, and instead of
the vague astonished way in which he was wont to speak of practical
affairs, he now showed a precision, and clearness, and knowledge of life
that was really appalling. "I am sorry it is so, Waters," he ended. "We
live pleasantly here, and we almost forget what the world outside is
"I do think some one might have told me, Mr. Ames; I do indeed." Waters
could have cried with disappointment.
"You would never have believed it, Waters; we none of us can believe
that the world doesn't need us. It's hard, but whether we live or die,
the world doesn't care, can get on perfectly well without us. We each
have to find it out for ourselves." He sighed as if he too had once
known youth and hope, and the indifference of the world.
"But, Mr. Ames, I can't go home, indeed I can't. My other brother was
going into the business, and I always told people,—and everybody
supposed,—and to think that all my time here is wasted."
"Oh, not exactly wasted," Ames answered kindly. "It will always help
you, to be an Oxford man, and you will be sure to find it pleasanter at
home than you expected." Then beginning again to look at his papers, he
added, more in his old distant way, "I'll see you again, I hope, before
you go down. They'll miss you in College," he added politely, as Waters
moved towards the door. "I'm sure the 'Torpid'—"
"I might be a solicitor, Mr. Ames," Waters said in a meek voice, as he
stood disconsolately, his hand on the door-knob.
"Well, talk it over with your father," Ames replied, without looking up.
"It takes time and money you know. You think he wouldn't mind?"
"Oh no, he won't mind," Waters said, although he knew his father would
mind very much indeed.
He walked away slowly through the familiar quadrangle. His father!—how
would he ever dare tell his father? But no, it couldn't be true that
there was nothing for him, that nobody wanted him. He was well known in
College, had played in the football team, and rowed in the "Torpid," and
people liked him. Besides it was such a thing, they always said, to be
an English gentleman; and then Oxford culture—and you read of the
successful careers of rowing men, how they became Cabinet Ministers,
and Bishops, and things. No, it couldn't be true....
"Poor Lo-Ben," he said, patting his dog tenderly, as he unchained him in
the porch. "Poor old Lo-Ben, you'll stick to your master, won't you?"
The dog whined and licked the young man's hand, and they went out into
the street together.
Well, they would live alone, he and Lo-Ben, and they would go out for
lonely walks, after the long dreary days of work in his father's office.
And the people there would see him, and wonder about him; but he would
always be distant, only coldly polite when they met. Sometimes his old
College friends would come to stay in the neighbourhood; but they would
not look him up: all his friends would forget him, though he would
always remember them. And that afternoon they would all drive off
without him, probably they would be really glad not to have him. And
they would be perfectly happy; but he would never be happy again.
For no, it was not true, what Ames had said, about his getting to like
it at home. He would always hate it, he told himself desperately; and
life and everything was hateful; there was a chill in the sunshine, the
streets seemed full of noise and work and ugly working people. What was
the good of it? he wondered. And Ames said it was all like that. What
was the good of it, he asked again, when he flung himself down into one
of the great easy chairs in his lodgings. If you had to live in a dirty
provincial town, and sit on a stool all day, what was the good? Of
course some of the men at home seemed happy enough; they had their
cricket on Saturdays and things; but then they weren't university men.
For himself, Waters decided, for the first time in his life considering
in his concrete way the problem of existence, for himself it was all
finished; there was nothing more in life which could give him pleasure.
The servant brought up luncheon. At first Waters thought he could eat
nothing, and when he did begin in a melancholy way, he bitterly
contrasted his lonely meal with the happy party in College. He felt an
immense pity for himself; he would die young, he was sure; the life
might even drive him to suicide—such things had happened.
After his luncheon and beer he lit his pipe. By this time Buller and
Philpotts must have finished their luncheon too, and have started for
the stables. They would wonder at first why he did not come, but they
would not really care.
And now they must have started. He had done well not to go with them; he
would not have enjoyed it, Waters assured himself, repeating the old
phrases; he would never enjoy anything again. He looked at his watch
furtively. What! they wouldn't start for three minutes yet. Then he had
still just time enough to catch them. He seized his hat, and without
waiting for a reason—he had no time to wait—he hurried out, Lo-Ben
barking at his heels.