Mike Fletcher - A Novel
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Mike Fletcher - A Novel

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The Project Gutenberg eBook, Mike Fletcher, by George (George Augustus) MooreThis eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it,give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online atwww.gutenberg.netTitle: Mike Fletcher A NovelAuthor: George (George Augustus) MooreRelease Date: September 21, 2005 [eBook #16730]Language: English***START OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK MIKE FLETCHER***E-text prepared by Andrew SlyMIKE FLETCHERA NovelbyGEORGE MOOREAuthor of"A Mummer's Wife," "Confessions of a Young Man," Etc.1889TO MY BROTHER AUGUSTUS, IN MEMORY OF MANYYEARS OF MUTUAL ASPIRATION AND LABOURCHAPTER IOaths, vociferations, and the slamming of cab-doors. The darkness was decorated by the pink of a silk skirt, the crimsonof an opera-cloak vivid in the light of a carriage-lamp, with women's faces, necks, and hair. The women sprang gaily fromhansoms and pushed through the swing-doors. It was Lubini's famous restaurant. Within the din was deafening. "What cheer, 'Ria! 'Ria's on the job,"roared thirty throats, all faultlessly clothed in the purest linen. They stood round a small bar, and two women and a boyendeavoured to execute their constant orders for brandies-and-sodas. They were shoulder to shoulder, and had to holdtheir liquor almost in each other's faces. A man whose hat had been broken addressed reproaches to a friend, ...

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The Project Gutenberg eBook, Mike Fletcher, by
George (George Augustus) Moore
This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at
no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever.
You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the
terms of the Project Gutenberg License included
with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.net
Title: Mike Fletcher A Novel
Author: George (George Augustus) Moore
Release Date: September 21, 2005 [eBook
#16730]
Language: English
***START OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG
EBOOK MIKE FLETCHER***
E-text prepared by Andrew SlyMIKE FLETCHER
A Novel
by
GEORGE MOORE
Author of
"A Mummer's Wife," "Confessions of a Young
Man," Etc.
1889
TO MY BROTHER
AUGUSTUS, IN
MEMORY OF MANY
YEARS OF MUTUALASPIRATION AND
LABOURCHAPTER I
Oaths, vociferations, and the slamming of cab-
doors. The darkness was decorated by the pink of
a silk skirt, the crimson of an opera-cloak vivid in
the light of a carriage-lamp, with women's faces,
necks, and hair. The women sprang gaily from
hansoms and pushed through the swing-doors. It
was Lubini's famous restaurant. Within the din was
deafening.
"What cheer, 'Ria!
'Ria's on the job,"
roared thirty throats, all faultlessly clothed in the
purest linen. They stood round a small bar, and
two women and a boy endeavoured to execute
their constant orders for brandies-and-sodas. They
were shoulder to shoulder, and had to hold their
liquor almost in each other's faces. A man whose
hat had been broken addressed reproaches to a
friend, who cursed him for interrupting his howling.
Issued from this saloon a long narrow gallery set
with a single line of tables, now all occupied by
reproaches to a friend, who cursed him for
interrupting his howling.
Issued from this saloon a long narrow gallery set
with a single line of tables, now all occupied by
supping courtesans and their men. An odour of
savouries, burnt cheese and vinegar met thenostrils, also the sharp smell of a patchouli-scented
handkerchief drawn quickly from a bodice; and a
young man protested energetically against a wild
duck which had been kept a few days over its time.
Lubini, or Lubi, as he was called by his pals, signed
to the waiter, and deciding the case in favour of the
young man, he pulled a handful of silver out of his
pocket and offered to toss three lords, with whom
he was conversing, for drinks all round.
"Feeling awfully bad, dear boy; haven't been what I
could call sober since Monday. Would you mind
holding my liquor for me? I must go and speak to
that chappie."
Since John Norton had come to live in London, his
idea had been to put his theory of life, which he
had defined in his aphorism, "Let the world be my
monastery," into active practice. He did not
therefore refuse to accompany Mike Fletcher to
restaurants and music-halls, and was satisfied so
long as he was allowed to disassociate and isolate
himself from the various women who clustered
about Mike. But this evening he viewed the
courtesans with more than the usual liberalism of
mind, had even laughed loudly when one fainted
and was upheld by anxious friends, the most
zealous and the most intimate of whom bathed her
white tragic face and listened in alarm to her
incoherent murmurings of "Mike darling, oh, Mike!"
John had uttered no word of protest until dear old
Laura, who had never, as Mike said, behaved
badly to anybody, and had been loved by
everybody, sat down at their table, and thediscussion turned on who was likely to be Bessie's
first sweetheart, Bessie being her youngest sister
whom she was "bringing out." Then he rose from
the table and wished Mike good-night; but Mike's
liking for John was sincere, and preferring his
company to Laura's, he paid the bill and followed
his friend out of the restaurant; and as they walked
home together he listened to his grave and
dignified admonitions, and though John could not
touch Mike's conscience, he always moved his
sympathies. It is the shallow and the insincere that
inspire ridicule and contempt, and even in the
dissipations of the Temple, where he had come to
live, he had not failed to enforce respect for his
convictions and ideals.
In the Temple John had made many acquaintances
and friends, and about him were found the
contributors to the Pilgrim, a weekly newspaper
devoted to young men, their doings, their
amusements, their literature, and their art. The
editor and proprietor of this organ of amusement
was Escott. His editorial work was principally done
in his chambers in Temple Gardens, where he lived
with his friend, Mike Fletcher. Of necessity the
newspaper drew, like gravitation, art and literature,
but the revelling lords who assembled there were a
disintegrating influence, and made John Norton a
sort of second centre; and Harding and Thompson
and others of various temperaments and talents
found their way to Pump Court. Like cuckoos,
some men are only really at home in the homes of
others; others are always ill at ease when taken
out of the surroundings which they have composedto their ideas and requirements; and John Norton
was never really John Norton except when,
wrapped in his long dressing-gown and sitting in his
high canonical chair, he listened to Harding's
paradoxes or Thompson's sententious utterances.
These artistic discussions—when in the passion of
the moment, all the cares of life were lost and the
soul battled in pure idea—were full of attraction
and charm for John, and he often thought he had
never been so happy. And then Harding's eyes
would brighten, and his intelligence, eager as a
wolf prowling for food, ran to and fro, seeking and
sniffing in all John's interests and enthusiasms. He
was at once fascinated by the scheme for the
pessimistic poem and charmed with the projected
voyage in Thibet and the book on the Great
Lamas.
One evening a discussion arose as to whether
Goethe had stolen from Schopenhauer, or
Schopenhauer from Goethe, the comparison of
man's life with the sun "which seems to set to our
earthly eyes, but which in reality never sets, but
shines on unceasingly." The conversation came to
a pause, and then Harding said—
"Mike spoke to me of a pessimistic poem he has in
mind; did he ever speak to you about it, Escott?"
"I think he said something once, but he did not tell
me what it was about. He can speak of nothing
now but a nun whom he has persuaded to leave
her convent. I had thought of having some articles
written about convents, and we went toRoehampton. While I was talking to my cousin,
who is at school there, he got into conversation
with one of the sisters. I don't know how he
managed it, but he has persuaded her to leave the
convent, and she is coming to see him to-morrow."
"You don't mean to say," cried John, "that he has
persuaded one of the nuns to leave the convent
and to come and see him in Temple Gardens?
Such things should not be permitted. The
Reverend Mother or some one is in fault. That man
has been the ruin of hundreds, if not in fact, in
thought. He brings an atmosphere of sensuality
wherever he goes, and all must breathe it; even
the most virtuous are contaminated. I have felt the
pollution myself. If the woman is seventy she will
look pleased and coquette if he notices her. The
fascination is inexplicable!"
"We all experience it, and that is why we like Mike,"
said Harding. "I heard a lady, and a woman whose
thoughts are not, I assure you, given to straying in
that direction, say that the first time she saw him
she hated him, but soon felt an influence like the
fascination the serpent exercises over the bird
stealing over her. We find but ourselves in all that
we see, hear, and feel. The world is but our idea.
All that women have of goodness, sweetness,
gentleness, they keep for others. A woman would
not speak to you of what is bad in her, but she
would to Mike; her sensuality is the side of her
nature which she shows him, be she Messalina or
St. Theresa; the proportion, not the principle is
altered. And this is why Mike cannot believe invirtue, and declares his incredulity to be founded
on experience."
"No doubt, no doubt!"
Fresh brandies-and-sodas were poured out, fresh
cigars were lighted, and John descended the
staircase and walked with his friends into Pump
Court, where they met Mike Fletcher.
"What have you been talking about to-night?" he
asked.
"We wanted Norton to read us the pessimistic
poem he is writing, but he says it is in a too
unfinished state. I told him you were at work on
one on the same subject. It is curious that you who
differ so absolutely on essentials should agree to
sink your differences at the very point at which you
are most opposed to principle and practice."
After a pause, Mike said—
"I suppose it was Schopenhauer's dislike of women
that first attracted you. He used to call women the
short-legged race, that were only admitted into
society a hundred and fifty years ago."
"Did he say that? Oh, how good, and how true! I
never could think a female figure as beautiful as a
male. A male figure rises to the head, and is a
symbol of the intelligence; a woman's figure sinks
to the inferior parts of the body, and is expressive
of generation."