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Geoffrey Hamstead A Novel   By:

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Consider the work of God: for who can make that straight, which he hath made crooked?

Ecclesiastes vii, 13.






I do not think So fair an outward, and such stuff within, Endows a man but he.


The Victoria Bank, Toronto, is on the corner of Bay and Front Streets, where it overlooks a part of the harbor large enough to gladden the eyes of the bank clerks who are aquatic in their habits and have time to look out of the windows. Young gentlemen in tattered and ink stained coats, but irreproachable in the matter of trousers and linen, had been known to gaze longingly and wearily down toward that strip of shining water when hard fate in the shape of bank duty apparently remained indifferent to the fact that an interesting race was being rowed or sailed. This, sometimes, was rather a bad thing for the race; for the Victoria Bank had, immured within its cut stone and plate glass, some good specimens of muscular gentility; and in contests of different kinds, the V. B. had a way (discomforting to other banks) of producing winners. The amount of muscle some of them could apply to a main sheet was creditable, while, as to rowing, there were few who did not cultivate a back and thigh action which, if not productive of so much speed as Hanlan's, was certainly, to the uninitiated, quite as pleasant to look upon; so that, in sports generally, there was a decided call for the Vics.; not only among men on account of their skill, but also in the ranks of a gentler community whose interest in a contest seemed to be more personal than sporting. The Vics. had adopted as their own a particular color, of which they would wear at least a small spot on any "big day"; and, when they were contesting, this color would be prevalent in gatherings of those interested personally. And who would inquire the reasons for this favoritism? "Reasons! explanations! why are men so curious? Is it not enough that those most competent to decide have decided? What will you? Go to!" Indeed, the sex is very divine. It is a large part of their divinity to be obscure.

Perhaps these young men danced with the ease and self satisfaction of dervishes. Perhaps their prowess was unconsciously admired by those who formerly required defenders. But the most compelling reason, on this important point, was that "ours" of the Victoria Bank had established themselves socially as "quite the right sort" and "good form" and thus desirable to the Toronto maiden, and, if not so much so to her more match making mother, the fact that they were considered chic provided a feminine argument in their favor which had, as usual, the advantage of being, from its vagueness, difficult to answer; so that the more mercantile mother grew to consider that a "detrimental" who was chic was not, after all, as bad as a "det." without leaven.

It has been said that bank clerks are all the same; but, while admitting that, in regard to their faultless trousers and immaculate linen, there does exist a pleasing general resemblance, rather military, it must be insisted that there are different sorts of them; that they are complete in their way, and need not be idealized. The old barbaric love for wonderful story telling is still the harvest ground of those who live by the propagation of ideas, but must we always demand the unreal?

There was nothing unreal about Jack Cresswell. As he stood poring over columns of figures in a great book, one glance at him was sufficient to dispel all hope of mystery. He was inclosed in the usual box or stall quite large enough for him to stand up in, which was all he required (sitting ruins trousers) and his office coat was all a bank clerk could desire... Continue reading book >>

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