Page:My Life and Loves.djvu/360

This page has been validated.
318
MY LIFE AND LOVES.

"You asked me", he began, "why I didn't send you the nomination for the midshipman's examination. Now I'll tell you. To get on in the British Navy and make a career in it, you should either be well-born or well-off: you were neither. For a youth without position or money, there are only two possible roads up: servility or silence, and you were incapable of both."

"Oh, Governor, how true and how wise of you!" I cried, "but why, why didn't you tell met I'd have understood then as well as now and thought the more of you for thwarting me."

"You forget", he went on, "that I had trained myself in the other road of silence: it is difficult for me even now to express myself", and he went on with bitterness in voice and accent:

"They drove me to silence: if you knew what I endured before I got my first step as lieutenant. If it hadn't been that I was determined to marry your mother, I could never have swallowed the countless humiliations of my brainless superiors! What would have happened to you I saw as in a glass. You were extraordinarily quick, impulsive and high-tempered: don't you know that brains and energy and will-power are hated by all the wastrels and in this world they are everywhere in the vast majority. Some lieutenant or captain would have taken an instantaneous dislike to you that would have grown on every manifestation of your superiority: he would have laid traps for you of insubordination and insolence probably for months and then in some port where he was powerful, he would have brought you before a courtmartial and you would have been dismissed from the Navy in disgrace anad perhaps your whole life ruined. The British Navy is the worst place in the world for genius."