The Half-Hearted HTML version
10. Home Truths
It is told by a great writer in his generous English that when the followers of Diabolus
were arraigned before the Recorder and Mayor of regenerate Mansoul, a certain Mr.
Haughty carried himself well to the last. "He declared," says Bunyan, "that he had
carried himself bravely, not considering who was his foe or what was the cause in which
he was engaged. It was enough for him if he fought like a man and came off victorious."
Nevertheless, we are told, he suffered the common doom, being crucified next day at
the place of execution. It is the old fate of the freelance, the Hal o' the Wynd who fights
for his own hand; for in life's contest the taking of sides is assumed to be a necessity.
Such was Lewis's reflections when he found Wratislaw waiting for him in the Etterick
dogcart when he emerged from a meeting in Gledsmuir. He had now enjoyed ten days
of it, and he was heartily tired. His throat was sore with much speaking, his mind was
barren with thinking on the unthinkable, and his spirits were dashed with a bitter sense
of futility. He had honestly done his best. So far his conscience was clear; but as he
reviewed the past in detail, his best seemed a very shoddy compromise. It was comfort
to see the rugged face of Wratislaw again, though his greeting was tempered by
mistrust. The great man had refused to speak for him and left him to fight his own
battles; moreover, he feared the judgment of the old warrior on his conduct of the fight.
He was acutely conscious of the joints in his armour, but he had hoped to have decently
cloaked them from others. When he heard the first words, "Well, Lewie, my son, you
have been making a mess of it," his heart sank.
"I am sorry," he said. "But how?"
"How? Why, my dear chap, you have no grip. You have let the thing get out of hand. I
heard your speech to-night. It was excellent, very clever, a beautiful piece of work, but
worse than useless for your purpose. You forget the sort of man you are fighting. Oh, I
have been following the business carefully, and I felt bound to come down to keep you
in order. To begin with, you have left your own supporters in the place in a nice state of
"Why, because you have given them nothing to catch hold of. They expected the
ordinary Conservative confession of faith--a rosy sketch of foreign affairs, and a little
gentle Socialism, and the old rhetoric about Church and State. Instead, they are put off
with epigrams and excellent stories, and a few speculations as to the metaphysical
basis of politics. Believe me, Lewie, it is only the very general liking for your unworthy