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|The Man Who Was Thursday||Gilbert K. Chesterton|
The Two Poets Of Saffron Park
|Page 6 of 7||
"All the same," replied Syme patiently, "just at present you only see the tree by the light of the lamp. I wonder when you would ever see the lamp by the light of the tree." Then after a pause he said, "But may I ask if you have been standing out here in the dark only to resume our little argument?"
"No," cried out Gregory, in a voice that rang down the street, "I did not stand here to resume our argument, but to end it for ever."
The silence fell again, and Syme, though he understood nothing, listened instinctively for something serious. Gregory began in a smooth voice and with a rather bewildering smile.
"Mr. Syme," he said, "this evening you succeeded in doing something rather remarkable. You did something to me that no man born of woman has ever succeeded in doing before."
"Now I remember," resumed Gregory reflectively, "one other person succeeded in doing it. The captain of a penny steamer (if I remember correctly) at Southend. You have irritated me."
"I am very sorry," replied Syme with gravity.
"I am afraid my fury and your insult are too shocking to be wiped out even with an apology," said Gregory very calmly. "No duel could wipe it out. If I struck you dead I could not wipe it out. There is only one way by which that insult can be erased, and that way I choose. I am going, at the possible sacrifice of my life and honour, to prove to you that you were wrong in what you said."
"In what I said?"
"You said I was not serious about being an anarchist."
"There are degrees of seriousness," replied Syme. "I have never doubted that you were perfectly sincere in this sense, that you thought what you said well worth saying, that you thought a paradox might wake men up to a neglected truth."
Gregory stared at him steadily and painfully.
"And in no other sense," he asked, "you think me serious? You think me a flaneur who lets fall occasional truths. You do not think that in a deeper, a more deadly sense, I am serious."
Syme struck his stick violently on the stones of the road.
"Serious!" he cried. "Good Lord! is this street serious? Are these damned Chinese lanterns serious? Is the whole caboodle serious? One comes here and talks a pack of bosh, and perhaps some sense as well, but I should think very little of a man who didn't keep something in the background of his life that was more serious than all this talking--something more serious, whether it was religion or only drink."
"Very well," said Gregory, his face darkening, "you shall see something more serious than either drink or religion."
Syme stood waiting with his usual air of mildness until Gregory again opened his lips.
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|The Man Who Was Thursday
Gilbert K. Chesterton
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