Search      Hot    Newest Novel
HOME > Classical Novels > The Admirable Tinker > CHAPTER FOUR THE TRAINING OF TINKER
Font Size:【Large】【Middle】【Small】 Add Bookmark  
 Sir Tancred had a very sound theory that the air of London is as healthy an air as can be breathed in England; but for all that Tinker enjoyed the best quality of that air, on the roof of the Hotel Cecil, varied1 by the ozone2 of Brighton and the air of many parts of the country, it was many a long day before he showed a real tendency towards sturdiness, and outgrew3 the effects of his privations. He was long, too, outgrowing4 his terror of strangers.  
Meanwhile Sir Tancred was trying to slake5 his intolerable thirst for distraction6, distraction from his memories and regrets, in that section of London Society which, let us hope, cannot see itself for its own brilliancy, or hear itself for its own noise, that curious collection of Princes and millionaires, aristocrats7 and tradesmen, great ladies and upper Bohemians, about which the only fitting thing is its title, found for it by some inspired journalist, of the Smart Set. There, where life forever bubbles a cheap and exceedingly dry champagne8 of a very doubtful exhilaration, he did now and again find a poor respite9 from regret till time blunted the edge of his sorrows. And when his sorrow was no longer acute, he had formed a reckless and extravagant10 habit of life from which, even when the reason for it had passed, he never sought to free himself: indeed, it never occurred to him to try.
But he never let his effort to drown his sorrow in the whirlpool of this strenuous11 life of pleasure interfere12 with his care of his little son; in truth, Tinker's society was his chief relaxation13 from the laborious14 and exacting15 round. Wherever he might be, in London, Paris, Vienna, Monte Carlo, or a country-house, Tinker was at hand, in his hotel, or lodged16 in the neighbourhood under the care of the faithful Selina.
A singularly early riser for one who sojourns17 in the Polite, or, to be exact, the Impolite World,—even in London he breakfasted at ten,—Sir Tancred was able to devote two or three hours every morning to the child before the serious and exacting pleasures of the day, and, before three years had passed, he had grown a veritable connoisseur18 in wooden bricks, tin soldiers, and composite animals. However late he returned at night, he never failed to look at Tinker in his cot in the room adjoining his bedroom, to assure himself that he was warm enough, or, if need were, lift him more comfortably on to his pillow. He watched him in his childish complaints with more care than the careful nurses he paid to watch him, or even than the fond and faithful Selina. And yet he did not spoil him.
Till Tinker was six years old they were playmates. Then, little by little, Sir Tancred found himself drifting into the position of general instructor19, and after a while began to give serious thought to the matter. It was not, perhaps, a sound education that he gave the child. The classical side of it and the commercial were alike neglected; the historical was forgotten. The spelling was weak, and the handwriting was very bad. But, riding, fencing, and boxing were very carefully cultivated, with the result that Tinker, though he lacked the lumps of muscle which disfigured that eminent20 ancient, might very well have vied in strength and agility21 with the child Hercules.
In the matter of languages, by dint22 of spending some of each year in the different European capitals, he learned to speak better French than he did English, for his father enjoyed far better society on the Continent than he did in London. In the same way, by sojourning in the land, he learned to make himself understood in German; and two months at Rome gave him a fair Italian. It must be admitted that he was as bad at spelling in all three of those languages as he was in his own. Again, his geography was hardly of the ornamental23 kind; he was entirely24 and happily ignorant of the whereabouts of Leeds and Crim Tartary; it is doubtful whether the Balearic Isles25, which most boys of the Western World could point you out on a map, were even a name to him. But by the time he was ten he could so deal with continental26 or English Bradshaw that in five or six minutes he could tell you the quickest or the most comfortable way of reaching any town in which a self-respecting person would care to find himself, and his knowledge of steamer-routes and the Great American railways was no less sound.
Besides these accomplishments27 he was acquiring a wide knowledge of the world. By his eleventh birthday, though inexperienced in Lestrygons and Lotos-eaters, he had seen the cities of more men than that way-worn wanderer Ulysses at the end of his voyages, and he had no mean understanding of their disposition28. Besides, as the years went on, Sir Tancred's debts increased. To live the really strenuous London life, you need a great deal of money; and though Fortune, so cruel to him in love, was kind at Bridge, her kindness was not continuous; and sometimes the ungracious importunities of his creditors29 drove him into retirement30 in the country. During these times of exile Tinker was, for the most part, his only companion, save for brief visits from Lord Crosland; and since Sir Tancred made a point of talking to him as his equal in age and experience, he gained from these times of close intimacy31 a yet wider knowledge of the world. These retirements32 never lasted long, not long enough indeed for Tinker, who was always happy enough in the country. Sir Tancred after a while grew impatient for the distractions33 of which he had acquired so deep-rooted a habit. Moreover, in the country, out of a well-filled country house or shooting-box, he might at any time fall into the old, sorrowful brooding on his lost happiness.
The most uncommon34 part of Tinker's education was the careful cultivation35 of his faculty36 of observation. Sir Tancred himself had a natural gift of understanding his fellow-creatures, which, along with his finer brain, little by little placed him in the noble but unenviable position of being the first person to whom his friends flew to be extricated37 from their scrapes. He had found that his gift stood him in such good stead in his varying fortunes that he spared no pains to equip Tinker with the faculty even more finely developed.
In forming Tinker's manners he was at once aided and hindered by many women. The faithful Selina, with all the best-hearted intentions in the world of spoiling the child, was foiled, partly by Sir Tancred's watchfulness38, and partly by the uncertainty39 of her own temper. She was liable to the sudden, gusty40 rages of her class; and one of these rages undid41 the harm of many days' indulgence. When, however, Tinker was nine, she resigned with many misgivings42, tears, and upbraidings of conscience, her charge of him, to marry a middle-aged43 Parisian hairdresser of Scotch44 nationality and the name of Angus McNeill. Sir Tancred had far more trouble with the women who fell in love with him; and many women fell in love with him or thought themselves in love with him, for his handsome, melancholy45 face, his reputation for recklessness, and above all for his cold insensibility to their charm. In ten years of the strenuous, smart life, his name was never coupled with that of any woman. All and each of these made a pet of Tinker, since they found it the surest way to abate46 his father's coldness. On the other hand the great ladies of the Faubourg de St. Germain petted him because his seraph's face and delightful47 manners charmed them; while any nice woman petted him because she could not help it.
Fortunately Tinker did not like being petted; his sentiments, indeed, on the matter of being kissed by the effusive48 verged49 on the ungallant. He liked to be a nice woman's familiar friend; his attitude toward her could be almost avuncular50; but if a woman would pet him, he endured it with the exquisite51 patience with which his father forever taught him to treat the sex. In weaker hands than those of his father, he would doubtless have become a precocious52 and irritating monkey, always and painfully in evidence. But Sir Tancred and his creditors saw to it that his life in the world was broken by spells of healthy, boyish life, and he remained modest enough and simple-hearted.
As to his nerves, though they were always high-strung, the effects of his cruel treatment as a baby wore little by little and slowly away, until there was left only a faint dread53, or rather dislike, of being alone in the dark, and a tendency to awake once in a month or so, crying out from a bad dream.

All The Data From The Network AND User Upload, If Infringement, Please Contact Us To Delete! Contact Us
About Us | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Tag List | Recent Search  
©2010-2018, All Rights Reserved