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HARD TIMES,

BY CHARLES DICKENS.

CHAPTER XXIII.

MR. JAMES HARTHOUSE, " going in" for his
adopted party, soon began to score. With
the aid of a little more coaching for the
political sages, a little more genteel listlessness
for the general society, and a tolerable
management of the assumed honesty in
dishonesty, most effective and most patronised
of the polite deadly sins, he speedily came
to be considered of much promise. The not
being troubled with earnestness was a grand
point in his favour, enabling him to take to
the hard Fact fellows with as good a grace as
if he had been born one of the tribe, and to
throw all other tribes overboard, as conscious
impostors.

"Whom none of us believe, my dear Mrs.
Bounderby, and who do not believe
themselves. The only difference between us
and the professors of virtue or benevolence,
or philanthropynever mind the name
is, that we know it is all meaningless, and
say so ; while they know it equally and will
never say so."

Why should she be shocked or warned by
this reiteration? It was not so unlike her
father's principles, and her early training,
that it need startle her. Where was the
great difference between the two schools,
when each chained her down to material
realities, and inspired her with no faith in
anything else? What was there in her soul
for James Harthouse to destroy, which
Thomas Gradgrind had nurtured there in its
state of innocence!

It was even the worse for her at this pass,
that in her mindimplanted there before her
eminently practical father began to form it
a struggling disposition to believe in a wider
and higher humanity than she had ever heard
of, constantly strove with doubts and resentments.
With doubts, because the aspiration
had been so laid waste in her youth. With
resentments, because of the wrong that had
been done her, if it were indeed a whisper of
the truth. Upon a nature long accustomed
to self-suppression, thus torn and divided, the
Harthouse philosophy came as a relief and
justification. Everything being hollow, and
worthless, she had missed nothing and
sacrificed nothing. What did it matter, she
had said to her father, when he proposed her
husband. What did it matter, she said still.
With a scornful self-reliance, she asked
herself, What did anything matterand
went on.

Towards what? Step by step, onward and
downward, towards some end, yet so gradually
that she believed herself to remain
motionless. As to Mr. Harthouse, whither
he tended, he neither considered nor cared.
He had no particular design or plan before
him; no energetic wickedness ruffled his
lassitude. He was as much amused and
interested, at present, as it became so fine a
gentleman to be; perhaps even more than it
would have been consistent with his reputation
to confess. Soon after his arrival he
languidly wrote to his brother, the honorable and
jocular member, that the Bounderbys were
"great fun;" and further, that the female
Bounderby, instead of being the Gorgon he
had expected, was young and remarkably
pretty. After that, he wrote no more about
them, and devoted his leisure chiefly to their
house. He was very often in their house, in
his flittings and visitings about the Coketown
district; and was much encouraged by Mr.
Bounderby. It was quite in Mr. Bounderby's
gusty way to boast to all his world that he
didn't care about your highly connected people,
but that if his wife Tom Gradgrind's daughter
did, she was welcome to their company.

Mr. James Harthouse began to think it
would be a new sensation, if the face which
changed so beautifully for the whelp, would
change for him.

He was quick enough to observe; he had
a good memory, and did not forget a word of
the brother's revelations. He interwove
them with everything he saw of the sister,
and he began to understand her. To be sure,
the better and profounder part of her character
was not within his scope of perception; for
in natures, as in seas, depth answers unto
depth; but he soon began to read the rest
with a student's eye.

Mr. Bounderby had taken possession of a
house and grounds, about fifteen miles from
the town, and accessible within a mile or
two, by a railway striding on many arches
over a wild country, undermined by deserted

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