"Gosh! He's a tough old hulk. He'll go down fightin'."
Issuing from the offices of "The Island Navigation Company," Sylvanus Heythorp moved towards the corner whence he always took tram to Sefton Park. The crowded street had all that prosperous air of catching or missing something which characterises the town where London and New York and Dublin meet. Old Heythorp had to cross to the far side, and he sallied forth without regard to traffic. That snail-like passage had in it a touch of the sublime; the old man seemed saying: "Knock me down and be d---d to you--I'm not going to hurry." His life was saved perhaps ten times a day by the British character at large, compounded of phlegm and a liking to take something under its protection. The tram conductors on that line were especially used to him, never failing to catch him under the arms and heave him like a sack of coals, while with trembling hands he pulled hard at the rail and strap.
He moved into the body of the tram, where somebody would always get up from kindness and the fear that he might sit down on them; and there he stayed motionless, his little eyes tight closed. With his red face, tuft of white hairs above his square cleft block of shaven chin, and his big high-crowned bowler hat, which yet seemed too petty for his head with its thick hair--he looked like some kind of an idol dug up and decked out in gear a size too small.
One of those voices of young men from public schools and exchanges where things are bought and sold, said:
Old Heythorp opened his eyes. That sleek cub, Joe Pillin's son! What a young pup-with his round eyes, and his round cheeks, and his little moustache, his fur coat, his spats, his diamond pin!
"Thanks, rather below par, worryin' about his ships. Suppose you haven't any news for him, sir?"
Old Heythorp nodded. The young man was one of his pet abominations, embodying all the complacent, little-headed mediocrity of this new generation; natty fellows all turned out of the same mould, sippers and tasters, chaps without drive or capacity, without even vices; and he did not intend to gratify the cub's curiosity.
"Come to my house," he said; "I'll give you a note for him."