Glimpses Of Our Ancestors In Sussex - online book

With Sketches Of Sussex Characters, Remarkable Incidents &c

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The Last of his Kind.                   159
What to them had been a halt in life—a pull-up—a jaunt —a stroll—was to Osmond life itself. It was a series of halts and jaunts and strolls. He had no power of continuous work. Light loads—for the hour or the day—he delighted to carry, especially when they had to be taken to some pleasant spot, where happy, merry faces were to meet him. But for the heavy loads of life, such as men take up now, his shoulders were quite unfitted. Life had no terrors—scarcely responsi­bilities—for him ; he did not know them or seek to anticipate them as we do. We combat the Future as a deadly foe, and throw the Present to it as a bribe for its favours: because we know it has no mercy for those who do not so propitiate it. To him it ever seemed to wear the face of a friend. Certainly he did not tax it heavily—not, at least, at first. A bachelor, with no encumbrances and a small independence besides what his profession brought him in, perhaps he had no occasion to "look a-head." He certainly did not do so, until it was too late—until he was amongst the breakers. He had been all his life—up to middle-age—like a child playing on the edge of a precipice. He might have gone on until the end, and never known his danger—never known that he was a man born out of date—a remnant of a by-gone class that ought to be and must be extinguished—a doomed man, as much as the Mohican or the Iroquois of the New World; lacking as he did the power to keep up with the pace of the day. He might have so escaped, as, perhaps, many another doomed man or animal has done for a time, by a lucky chance. But it did not so fall out. In middle-age, Osmond's foot slipped, and he fell—into matrimony. It was like a great bustard coming from some remote spot, where there was just a chance of its escaping the fowler, into the vicinity of a town, or, better, like some old whip driving a stage-coach on to a railway, and thinking to escape being run down. From out of his little bye-way of butterfly life, Osmond came into the eager and crowded highway of life, thinking to make his way like other men. Had they not wives and children, and why not he ? Why not, indeed? There were thousands and hundreds of
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