Father Payne

Father Payne

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Father Payne by Arthur Christopher Benson

Published:

1915

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Father Payne

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Often as I have thought of my old friend "Father Payne," as we affectionately called him, I had somehow never intended to write about him, or if I did, it was "like as a dream when one awaketh," a vision that melted away at the touch of common life. Yet I always felt that his was one of those rich personalities well worth depicting, if the attitude and gesture with which he faced the world could be caught and fixed. The difficulty was that he was a man of ideas rather than of performance, suggestive rather than active: and the whole history of his experiment with life was evasive, and even to ordinary views fantastic.

Book Excerpt

uilt Georgian house, perhaps a hundred and fifty years old, with two shallow wings and a stone-tiled roof, and was obviously of considerable size. Some withered creepers straggled over it, and it was neatly kept, but with no sort of smartness. The trees grew rather thickly to the east of the house, and I could see to the right a stable-yard, and beyond that the trees of the garden. We drew up--it was getting dark--and an old manservant with a paternal air came out, took possession of my bag, and led me through a small vestibule into a long hall, with a fire burning in a great open fireplace. There was a gallery at one end, with a big organ in it. The hall was paved with black and white stone, and there were some comfortable chairs, a cabinet or two, and some dim paintings on the walls. Tea was spread at a small table by the fire, and four or five men, two of them quite young, the others rather older, were sitting about on chairs and sofas, or helping themselves to tea at the table. On the hearth, with his bac

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