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said Steve, much amazed at this outburst.
"I've begun, you see, and much good may it do you," answered
Mac, laying himself placidly down again.
"Well, but look here, man you are arguing on the wrong side," put
in Archie, quite agreeing with him, but feeling that he must stand
by his order at all costs.
"Never mind sides, uphold the right wherever you find it. You
needn't stare, Steve I told you I was going to look into this matter,
and I am. You think I'm wrapped up in books, but I see a great deal
more of what is going on around me than you imagine, and I'm
getting on in this new branch, let me tell you, quite as fast as is
good for me, I daresay."
"Going in for perfection, are you?" asked Charlie, both amused and
interested, for he respected Mac more than he owned even to
himself, and though he had never alluded to the timely warning,
"Yes, I think of it."
"How will you begin?"
"Do my best all-round keep good company, read good books, love
good things, and cultivate soul and body as faithfully and wisely as
"And you expect to succeed, do you?"
"Please God, I will."
The quiet energy of Mac's last words produced a momentary
silence. Charlie thoughtfully studied the carpet; Archie, who had
been absently poking the fire, looked over at Mac as if he thanked
him again, and Steve, forgetting his self-conceit, began to wonder
if it was not possible to improve himself a little for Kitty's sake.
Only a minute, for young men do not give much time to thoughts
of this kind, even when love stirs up the noblest impulses within
them. To act rather than to talk is more natural to most of them, as
Charlie's next question showed, for, having the matter much at
heart, he ventured to ask in an offhand way as he laughed and
twirled his cue: "Do you intend to reach the highest point of
perfection before you address one of the fair saints, or shall you
ask her to lend a hand somewhere short of that?"
"As it takes a long lifetime to do what I plan, I think I shall ask
some good woman 'to lend a hand' when I've got anything worth
offering her. Not a saint, for I never shall be one myself, but a
gentle creature who will help me, as I shall try to help her, so that
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