YOUNG MEN I HAVE MET.
Mataura Ensign, Rōrahi 14, Putanga 993, 4 Hōngongoi 1890, Page 2
YOUNG MEN I HAVE MET.
THE SUPERNUMERARY. f Most men are celebrated characters in 1 their- own set. They have admirers who g think of them for, the School fyjard if not i for the County Council, for ,t y he Dojst of 1 beadle if not for the School Board, for 1 local scavenger if not for beadle. They have a shop, and then their salesman pays them reverence if they are only salesmen, they can still lord it over the errand-boy. Even. if they are their own salesman and errand-boy, they are promin- ent figures at their breakfast-table, where their wife admits their majesty, and their little boy thinks them nearly as good as the policeman. Yet are there exceptions to this rule. Now and again we meet with unfortunates, who are held of no account by anybody. Such;a one is Henry William. He has a surname, but no one troubles about it. Henry William is considered sufficient distinction for him. If you, a stranger, ask who is meant when Henry William is spoken of, you will be told, Oh, it really doesn't matter at all." No one can be bothered explaining who Henry William is. Henry William is over thirty, I should say now, but were we to think of him at all (which we never do) we would ca.ll him a very young man still. The f rienqs of his boyhood grew out of and flung Henry William aside as if he were a suit of knickerbockers, and youths of twsntyone only accept him on sufferance as a man who must be somewhere and does no harm in being with them. For Henry William is so harmless that he almost possesses an individuality when considered in this light. He has no tastes, no ambitions, so far as we are aware indeed, he would strike us (if we thought of him) as entirely negative. Stop he knows that he has rights as a freeborn citizen. He ceases working at 7 pm. precisely, and dines like other people. In his family circle, however, he is not seriously considered. Most of us have our particular chair, but Henry William sits anywhere. He has no special nail on which to hang his hat, no one ever dreams of asking him whether he prefers the wings of a fowl or tbe legs. His hostesses tell him to pass his cup for more tea, and if he says he wants no more the cup is passed all the same. Henry William has a brother called Tom, and, though Tom is younger, he pays no attention to Henry William. When Tom has a ticket for a soiree (we live in country parts) and does not want to go, he gives the ticket to Henry William. "It will be frightfully slow," Tom say 3, so you had better go, Henry William." But I don't oare to go," says Henry William. Here is the ticket," says Tom, and thus Henry William is booked for the soiree. It is, however, seldom that Heury William says he doesn't care to go. He has not sufficient character for that. He has no particular desire to go but then, he has no particular desire not to go. He is colourless. It is all the same to him where he goes or does not go. He must be somewhere, and so why not at the soiree Henry William is asked out a good deal. In this town, where he is ot no importance, the magnates invite each other to tea, and even, on tremendous occasions, to dinner. There is never any reason why Henry William should not be asked, nor why he should be. Thus some people, having got into the habit of asking bim, never think of uot asking bim. He is not ornamental like the toast rack, nor useful like the toast. He is rather like the old seedcake, which is put down because we are all used to it. There are also occasions when Henry William does, in a sense, supply a want. At the last moment it is discovered that there is no one to take Miss Jones in to dinner and then word is sent to Tom to bring Henry William with him." The hostess apologises to Mies Jones for putting her into the hands of Henry William but though Miss Jones may burn with secret indignation at her hostess, she is quite courteous to Henry William. If you were to enter the diningroom, you could pick out Henry William at once. At our festivities there is usually one dining-room chair too few, so a bed-room chair is introduced unostentatiously. On that chair Henry William sits. In conversation Henry William is entirely inoffensive. He has a few remarks, and he says them when his companion is not speaking to some other body. It is a nice day," Henry William says (people without character use the word nice" as often as the cockney loses his h's.) I think it very disagreeable," replies the lady indifferently. So it is," says Henry William. I have been reading SheV he says when she next gives him an opportunity. It is very nice." ,f I detest it," she says. Well, I don't much care about it myself," he says. Then he begins about his famous trip to Stratford-on-Avon. I went to Stratford-on-Avon for my last holiday." Oh, you are a great Shakespearian, I suppose Yes, I think his works very nice." And did you see his grave Oh yes we paid sixpence to Bee it." "What is it like?" It is a very nice grave." Henry WilUara is not married. He in iv £Qo4 circumstance:, AU me other
young men in the place flatter themselves that they are run after," and if Tom, for instance, walks home from the Moggridges with a young lady, the town gossips about it, and fixes when the marriage is to be. But if the cavalier is Henry William, there is no talk, the la-ly cou]d have as safely walked home with her parasol. "Who escorted you home?" the lady's mother asks. Nobody," says the lady. "I. thought I heard you say goodnight to someone at the door." Oh, that was Henry William. He walked home with me." So I expect that Henry William will remain a bachelor. Perhaps he has had a romance, but, if so, he never mentioned it, or, if he did, the lady let it pass. It must not be thought that Henry, William is unhappy. He would not take it upon him to be specially happy, but he has. at least the happiness of those who would not presume to be miserable. In Henry William there is a moral, though there may not be much else the moral is, that character is everything to a man. Even if he be a bad character, he possesses an individuality; but if he is without character,. he is as little regarded as a thistle by the road-side. He is of no account. Such is Henry William. J. M. Barrie in The Young M|an.