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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 delighted visions he was driving home along with his mistress.

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 an 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.

At Mrs. Cowey’s parties again he had seen some young ladies and had been introduced to them. He had tried to make himself agreeable, but was always left with the impression that he had not been successful. The young ladies of Mrs. Cowey’s set were by no means the most attractive that might have been found in the University, and Theobald may be excused for not losing his heart to the greate............
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