Poverty, naked and unconcealed! One can endure that, with some patience, as a beaten soldier in the battle of life. But genteel pauperism--the semi-poverty of the middle-class, that lives a necessary lie at the cost of incessant worry and constant defeat--there you have the true misery of life. Believe me, Cass, there is no torture like that of an ambition which cannot be attained for lack of money.
I did not know you were ambitious, Ellis.
Not of setting the Thames on fire. My desires are limited to a good practice, a moderate income, a home, and a wife to love me. These wishes are reasonable enough, Heaven knows, yet some cursed Fate prevents their realisation. And I have to sit down and wait; a doctor can do nothing else. I must listen with such philosophy as I have for the ring of the door bell to announce my first patient, and the ring never comes. The heart grows sick, the brain rusty, the money goes, the temper sours, and so I pass the best days of my life.
All things come to him who knows how to wait, said Cass, knocking the ashes out of a well-smoked briar.
And the horse is the noblest of all animals, retorted Ellis. I never did find consolation in proverbs of that class.
The two men sat in their dingy sitting-room talking as usual of a problematical future. Every night they discussed the subject, and every discussion ended without any definite conclusion being arrived at. Indeed, only Fortune could have terminated the arguments in a satisfactory manner, but as yet the fickle deity showed no disposition to make a third in the conversation. Therefore, Robert Ellis, M.D., and Harry Cass, journalist, talked, and talked, and talked. They also hoped for the best, a state of mind sufficiently eloquent of their penniless position. Unless they or their relatives are sick, rich people have no need to hope for the best. The second virtue dwells almost exclusively with the poor and ambitious, as do her two sisters.
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