"Yes. Do you know that Coleridge once lived there?"
"I was not aware of it. Now Coleridge is a genius - far more so than Wordsworth. It is a pity he has stopped writing his best poems."
"But his prose amply compensates for our loss in poetry. Besides, his powers are no more."
Their walking tour was not without its little inconveniences. The nature of their rambling being more suited to rough attire, they wore loose-fitting trousers and workman's jackets, to the suspicion of one of the landlords, who thought that there were footpads in the house. They were therefore sent to the barn.
"Sir, I am a clergyman," protested Mr Hall, but to no avail. It did not help matters that he spoke with a strong Yorkshire accent, unlike the smooth silvery tones of Mrs Pryor. A gentleman must be universal in speech: accents are necessarily an impediment to respectability. "One would expect that at my age I would be free of suspicion."
But Louis was laughing at the spectacle of Mr Hall being mistaken for a footpad. "At least he paid you the compliment of thinking you good enough to be a highwayman. They are very popular nowadays."
"My sight is too weak to handle a pistol, Louis," pointed out Mr Hall, though he was amused.
"You are intellectual-looking - you might be a mastermind of a great crime, and hire out lackeys to carry out your bidding."
"I see you have a future career in mind should your literary ambitions come to naught."
That year the rain fell in copious amounts, and so even Louis was persuaded to put down pencil and paper, to retire indoors. Mr Hall did not mind this arrangement, though he would have liked to wander more among nature. His age had rendered his limbs feebler than back in his youthful days, and he was glad for a chance to seize rest. Then there were books to read, which took up a number of agreeable hours. It is such among quiet natures. Lively persons often do more, witness more, and tell more stories of how they spent their holidays. But they cannot be satisfied in quietness: they must act, or else their motivation is gone. Mr Hall and Louis Moore were of the quieter class of people, who could be perfectly contented reading a good book at home. If they had little to say to others then they had much more to think and reflect upon. It was a pity that Caroline was ill, and that Miss Hall was away in Wormwood Wells with Miss Mann and Hortense Moore, or else she would have enjoyed the peace of the Lake District. Had his sister been present to be chaperone Mr Hall would have gladly asked for his young friend's company. He was conscious of Mr Helstone's detachment from his niece: uncle and niece had not been on vacation together for some time. But Caroline was fond of him and his sister, and he doubted not that the air would have returned the redness to her faded cheeks.
Louis occupied himself with scholarly pursuits - teaching himself German, reading Bentham and Godwin, and paying close attention to the Lyrical Ballads. Such a man was wasted as a mere tutor - though on the other hand, his pupil adored him. Probably no other tutor would have suited Henry Sympson so well. In the dim candlelight one could see the resemblance to his mercantile brother - had Caroline been present the sight would have been painful, for he looked just as Robert did when they read poetry together.
"You do not intend to teach for long, I suppose?" observed Mr Hall on one of their walks.
"After Henry has completed his education I intend to give it up - but what for? I have no capital for trade or a profession."
Mr Hall sympathised. "You might write for the reviews if you were acquainted with London literary circles. Your abilities I am sure are more than sufficient."
"That is one of the reasons I am seeing Southey. He is reputed to be generous with advice to young writers."
"You will need regular work. You will marry one of these days - and in these times one can't support a wife on a writer's salary."
"Marriage - I shall not be able to consider that prospect at present. The idea seems so distant to me."