The Way of All Flesh HTML version

Chapter 10
The interview, like all other good things had to come to an end; the days were short, and
Mrs Allaby had a six miles' drive to Crampsford. When she was muffled up and had
taken her seat, Mr Allaby's factotum, James, could perceive no change in her appearance,
and little knew what a series of delightful visions he was driving home along with his
Professor Cowey had published works through Theobald's father, and Theobald had on
this account been taken in tow by Mrs Cowey from the beginning of his University
career. She had had her eye upon him for some time past, and almost as much felt it her
duty to get him off her list of young men for whom wives had to be provided, as poor
Mrs Allaby did to try and get a husband for one of her daughters. She now wrote and
asked him to come and see her, in terms that awakened his curiosity. When he came she
broached the subject of Mr Allaby's failing health, and after the smoothing away of such
difficulties as were only Mrs Cowey's due, considering the interest she had taken, it was
allowed to come to pass that Theobald should go to Crampsford for six successive
Sundays and take the half of Mr Allaby's duty at half a guinea a Sunday, for Mrs Cowey
cut down the usual stipend mercilessly, and Theobald was not strong enough to resist.
Ignorant of the plots which were being prepared for his peace of mind and with no idea
beyond that of earning his three guineas, and perhaps of astonishing the inhabitants of
Crampsford by his academic learning, Theobald walked over to the Rectory one Sunday
morning early in December--a few weeks only after he had been ordained. He had taken a
great deal of pains with his sermon, which was on the subject of geology--then coming to
the fore as a theological bugbear. He showed that so far as geology was worth anything at
all--and he was too liberal entirely to pooh-pooh it--it confirmed the absolutely historical
character of the Mosaic account of the Creation as given in Genesis. Any phenomena
which at first sight appeared to make against this view were only partial phenomena and
broke down upon investigation. Nothing could be in more excellent taste, and when
Theobald adjourned to the rectory, where he was to dine between the services, Mr Allaby
complimented him warmly upon his debut, while the ladies of the family could hardly
find words with which to express their admiration.
Theobald knew nothing about women. The only women he had been thrown in contact
with were his sisters, two of whom were always correcting him, and a few school friends
whom these had got their father to ask to Elmhurst. These young ladies had either been so
shy that they and Theobald had never amalgamated, or they had been supposed to be
clever and had said smart things to him. He did not say smart things himself and did not
want other people to say them. Besides, they talked about music--and he hated music--or
pictures-- and he hated pictures--or books--and except the classics he hated books. And
then sometimes he was wanted to dance with them, and he did not know how to dance,
and did not want to know.