Michael by E F Benson Page 1 of 330


Though there was nothing visibly graceful about Michael Comber, he apparently had the art of giving gracefully.

He had already told his cousin Francis, who sat on the arm of the sofa by his table, that there was no earthly excuse for his having run into debt; but now when the moment came for giving, he wrote the cheque quickly and eagerly, as if thoroughly enjoying it, and passed it over to him with a smile that was extraordinarily pleasant.

"There you are, then, Francis," he said; "and I take it from you that that will put you perfectly square again. You"ve got to write to me, remember, in two days" time, saying that you have paid those bills. And for the rest, I"m delighted that you told me about it. In fact, I should have been rather hurt if you hadn"t."

Francis apparently had the art of accepting gracefully, which is more difficult than the feat which Michael had so successfully accomplished.

"Mike, you"re a brick," he said. "But then you always are a brick. Thanks awfully."

Michael got up, and shuffled rather than walked across the room to the bell by the fireplace. As long as he was sitting down his big arms and broad shoulders gave the impression of strength, and you would have expected to find when he got up that he was tall and largely made. But when he rose the extreme shortness of his legs manifested itself, and he appeared almost deformed. His hands hung nearly to his knees; he was heavy, short, lumpish.

"But it"s more blessed to give than to receive, Francis," he said. "I have the best of you there."

"Well, it"s pretty blessed to receive when you are in a tight place, as I was," he said, laughing. "And I am so grateful."

"Yes, I know you are. And it"s that which makes me feel rather cheap, because I don"t miss what I"ve given you. But that"s distinctly not a reason for your doing it again. You"ll have tea, won"t you?"

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