[from 'The Manxman' 1894]
PHILIP went home rebelling against his father's fate. It was accidental; it was inevitable only in the Isle of Man. But perdition to the place where a man could not marry the woman he loved if she chanced to be born in the manger instead of the stable loft. Perdition to the land where a man could not live unless he was a skunk or a cur. Thank God the world was wide.
That night be said to Auntie Nan, "Auntie, why didn't father go away when he found, the tide setting so strongly against him 3" "lie always meant to, but he never could," said Auntie Nan. "A woman isn't like a man, ready to pitch her tent here to-day and there to-morrow. . We're more like cats, dear, and cling to the places we're used to, if they're only ruins of tumbling stones. Your mother wasn't happy in the Isle of Man, but she wouldn't leave it. Your father wouldn't go without her, and then there was the child. He was here for weal or woe, for life or death. When he married his wife he made the chain that bound him to the island as to a rock."
"It wouldn't be like that with Kate," thought Philip. But did Auntie know anything? Had somebody told her ? Was she warning him ? On Sunday night, on the way home from church, she talked of his father again.
"He came to see at last that it wasn't altogether his own affair either," she said "It was the night he died Your mother had been unwell and father had sent for me. It was a dark night, and late, very late, and they brought me down the hill from Lewaige Cottage with a lantern. Father was sinking, but he would get out of bed. We were alone together then, he and I, except for you, and you were asleep in your cot by the window. He made straight for it, and struggled down on his knees at its side by help of the curtains. 'Listen,' he said, trying to whisper, though he could not, for his poor throat was making noises. You were catching your breath, as if sobbing in your sleep. 'Poor little boy, he's dreaming,' said I ; 'let me turn him on his side.' ' It's not that,' said father; he went to sleep in trouble.' "
"I remember it, Auntie," said Philip. "Perhaps he had been trying to tell me something."
"'My boy, my son, forgive me, I have sinned against you,' he said, and be tried to reach over the cot rail and put his lips to your forehead, but his poor head shook like palsy and bobbed down into Your little face. I remember you rubbed your nose with your little fist, but you did not waken. Then I helped him back to bed, and the table with the medicine glasses jingled by the trembling of his other hand, ' It's dark, all, all dark, Nannie,' he said, ' sure some angel will bring me light,' and I was so simple I thought he meant the lamp, for it was dying down, and I lit a candle."
Philip went about his work that week as if the spirit of his father were hovering over him, warning him. when awake in words of love and pleading, crying to him in his sleep in tones of anger and command, "Stand back; you are at the edge of the precipice."
Nevertheless his soul rose in rebellion against this league as of the past and the dead. It was founded in vanity, in the desire for glory and success. Only let a man renounce the world and all that ,;he world can give, and he can be true to himself, to his heart's impulse, to his honour, and to his love. He would deliberate no longer. He despised himself for deliberating. If it was the world against gate, let the world go to perdition.
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HTML Transcription © F.Coakley , 2008