The Way We Live Now
Lady Carbury's house in Welbeck Street was a modest house enough with no pretensions
to be a mansion, hardly assuming even to be a residence; but, having some money in her
hands when she first took it, she had made it pretty and pleasant, and was still proud to
feel that in spite of the hardness of her position she had comfortable belongings around
her when her literary friends came to see her on her Tuesday evenings. Here she was now
living with her son and daughter. The back drawing-room was divided from the front by
doors that were permanently closed, and in this she carried on her great work. Here she
wrote her books and contrived her system for the inveigling of editors and critics. Here
she was rarely disturbed by her daughter, and admitted no visitors except editors and
critics. But her son was controlled by no household laws, and would break in upon her
privacy without remorse. She had hardly finished two galloping notes after completing
her letter to Mr Ferdinand Alf, when Felix entered the room with a cigar in his mouth and
threw himself upon the sofa.
'My dear boy,' she said, 'pray leave your tobacco below when you come in here.'
'What affectation it is, mother,' he said, throwing, however, the half-smoked cigar into the
fire- place.'some women swear they like smoke, others say they hate it like the devil. It
depends altogether on whether they wish to flatter or snub a fellow.'
'You don't suppose that I wish to snub you?'
'Upon my word I don't know. I wonder whether you can let me have twenty pounds?'
'My dear Felix!'
'Just so, mother but how about the twenty pounds?'
'What is it for, Felix?'
'Well to tell the truth, to carry on the game for the nonce till something is settled. A
fellow can't live without some money in his pocket. I do with as little as most fellows. I
pay for nothing that I can help. I even get my hair cut on credit, and as long as it was
possible I had a brougham, to save cabs.'
'What is to be the end of it, Felix?'
'I never could see the end of anything, mother. I never could nurse a horse when the
hounds were going well in order to be in at the finish. I never could pass a dish that I
liked in favour of those that were to follow. What's the use?' The young man did not say
'carpe diem,' but that was the philosophy which he intended to preach.