Celibate Lives

Celibate Lives

Celibate Lives

Celibate Lives

Excerpt

WILFRID HOLMES was by many years younger than his brothers and sisters, all of whom were making their way in the world, the girls marrying and the boys doing well in different professions; the Army had claimed one, the Law another, and as a Civil Servant the third was helping to run the Empire in India.

The Holmeses were tall men with long faces and small eyes. Wilfrid, the last, was larger-framed, more heavily built than his brothers; his long, oval face was fuller, and in him the family eyes were not less intelligent than his brothers' eyes, but weaker, announcing an indolence of mind and body so inveterate that he had just grown up in it without struggle, passing from childhood into boyhood and from boyhood into manhood clinging to the widow's skirts. Mrs. Holmes's husband having died when Wilfrid was a small child, Wilfrid had known a father's influence and authority only derivatively through his eldest brother, whom he dreaded, for every time Hector returned to pay his mother a visit at Bushfield, the family place, the question was asked: What is Wilfrid going to do with himself? Has he not yet decided on a profession?

Mrs. Holmes tried to soften criticisms of her spoilt child with stories of Wilfrid's different aspirations, and she told these with a gentle humour. Wilfrid, she said, is thinking of entering the Consular Service, and if you . . .

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