22 Gerard; or,
" I tell you I saw it in your face. The man who contemplates
suicide has a look which no man who reads the human countenance
can mistake. There is a fixed horror in the eyes, as of one who
stares into the unknown, and knows that he is nearing the mystery
of life and death. There are perplexed fines about the brow, ' shall
I, or shall I not ? ' and there is a nervous hurry, as of one who wants
to get a disagi'eeable business over as soon as may be. I have never
been mistaken yet in that look. Why, my dear fellow, why?
Surely Hfe at eight and twenty is too precious a thing to be frittered
away for a trifle."
"' You take my hfe when you do take the means by which I live,' "
" Bacon again! That fellow has something to say about every¬
thing. You imply that you are impecunious, and would rather be
dead than penniless."
" Take it so, if you please,"
" Good. Now, how can you tell that fortune is not waiting for
you at some turn in the road you know not; that road of the future
which no man knows till he treads it ? So long as a man is alive
he has always a chance of becoming a millionaire. So long as a
woman is unmarried there is always the possibifity of her marrying
" The chance of fortune in my case is so remote that it is not
worth considering. I am the son of a country parson. I have no
relative hving hkely to leave me the smaUest legacy. Unless I
could make a fortune by literature, I have no chance of making one
by any exertion of my own, and my second book was so dire a
failure that I have it not in me to write a third."
"Fortunes drop from the clouds sometimes. Have you never
done any rich man a ser-vice which might prompt him—when dis¬
tributing superfluous thousands—to leave a few to you? "
" Never, ■within my recollection."
" Come, now, looking back at your life, is there no act in it of
which you might fairly be proud, no touch of the heroic, no deed
worthy a paragraph in the papers ? "
" None. I once saved an old man's life ; but I doubt if the life
were worth sa-ving, since the old wretch did not trouble himself to
thank me for having risked my own life in his service."
"You saved an old man's life, at hazard of your o^wn! Come
that sounds heroic," cried Jermyn, flinging his fair head back against
the blackish green of the velvet chair cover, and laughing with all