The World, the Flesh, and the Devil. 11
HUlersdon. " I am interested in the lady who has just left me, and
I am still more interested in you."
" I ought to feel honoured by that interest," said Hillersdon, " but
I confess to a doubt of its reality. What can you know of a man
whom you have seen for the first time within the last half-hour? "
" I am so sorry for you," said Jermyn, ignoring the direct question,
" so sorry. A young man of your natural gifts—clever, handsome,
well-bred—to be so tired of life already, so utterly despondent of the
future and its infinite chances, that you are going to throw up the
sponge, and make an end of it all to-night. It is really too sad."
.Hillersdon stared at him in blank amazement. Justin Jermyn
made the statement as if it were the most natural thing in the world
that he should have fathomed another man's intention.
"I cannot accept compassion from any one, least of all from a
total stranger," said Hillersdon, after that moment of surprise.
" Pray what is there in my history or my appearance that moves
you to this wild conjecture ? "
" No matter by what indications I read your mind," answered
Jermyn lightly. " You know I have read you right. You are one
of my easiest cases; everything about you is obvious—stares me
full in the face. The lady who has just left us needed a subtler
power of interpretation. She does not wear her heart upon her
sleeve; and yet I think she will admit that I startled her. As for
you, my dear fellow, I am particularly frank with you because I
want to prevent your carrying out that foolish notion of yours.
The worst thing that a man can do with his life is to throw it
" I admit no man's right to offer me advice."
" You think that is out of my line. I am a fortune-teller, and
nothing else. Well, I will tell you your fortune, Mr. Hillersdon, if
you like. You will not carry out your present intention—yet
awhile, or in the mode and manner you have planned. Good
afternoon," He dismissed his visitor with a careless nod as he rose
to open the door communicating with the corridor, whence came a
buzz of eager voices, mixed with light laughter. People were
prepared to be startled, yet could but regard the whole business in
a somewhat jocular spirit. It was only the select few who gave
Justin Jermyn credit for occult power.