Gilray is an actor, whose life I may be said to have strangely

influenced, for it was I who brought him and the Arcadia Mixture

together. After that his coming to live on our stair was only a matter

of rooms being vacant.

We met first in the Merediths' house-boat, the _Tawny Owl_, which

was then lying at Molesey. Gilray, as I soon saw, was a man trying to be

miserable, and finding it the hardest task in l
fe. It is strange that

the philosophers have never hit upon this profound truth. No man ever

tried harder to be unhappy than Gilray; but the luck was against him,

and he was always forgetting himself. Mark Tapley succeeded in being

jolly in adverse circumstances; Gilray failed, on the whole, in being

miserable in a delightful house-boat. It is, however, so much more

difficult to keep up misery than jollity that I like to think of his

attempt as what the dramatic critics call a _succès d'estime_.

The _Tawny Owl_ lay on the far side of the island. There were

ladies in it; and Gilray's misery was meant to date from the moment when

he asked one of them a question, and she said No. Gilray was strangely

unlucky during the whole of his time on board. His evil genius was

there, though there was very little room for him, and played sad pranks.

Up to the time of his asking the question referred to, Gilray meant to

create a pleasant impression by being jolly, and he only succeeded in

being as depressing as Jaques. Afterward he was to be unutterably

miserable; and it was all he could do to keep himself at times from

whirling about in waltz tune. But then the nearest boat had a piano on

board, and some one was constantly playing dance music. Gilray had an

idea that it would have been the proper thing to leave Molesey when

she said No; and he would have done so had not the barbel-fishing

been so good. The barbel-fishing was altogether unfortunate--at least

Gilray's passion for it was. I have thought--and so sometimes has

Gilray--that if it had not been for a barbel she might not have said

No. He was fishing from the house-boat when he asked the question. You

know how you fish from a house-boat. The line is flung into the water

and the rod laid down on deck. You keep an eye on it. Barbel-fishing, in

fact, reminds one of the independent sort of man who is quite willing to

play host to you, but wishes you clearly to understand at the same time

that he can do without you. Glad to see you with us if you have nothing

better to do; but please yourself, is what he says to his friends. This

is also the form of invitation to barbel. Now it happened that she and

Gilray were left alone in the house-boat. It was evening; some Chinese

lanterns had been lighted, and Gilray, though you would not think it

to look at him, is romantic. He cast his line, and, turning to his

companion, asked her the question. From what he has told me he asked it

very properly, and all seemed to be going well. She turned away her head

(which is said not to be a bad sign) and had begun to reply, when a

woful thing happened. The line stiffened, and there was a whirl of the

reel. Who can withstand that music? You can ask a question at any time,

but, even at Molesey, barbel are only to be got now and then. Gilray

rushed to his rod and began playing the fish. He called to his companion

to get the landing-net. She did so; and after playing his barbel for ten

minutes Gilray landed it. Then he turned to her again, and she said, No.

Gilray sees now that he made a mistake in not departing that night by

the last train. He overestimated his strength. However, we had something

to do with his staying on, and he persuaded himself that he remained

just to show her that she had ruined his life. Once, I believe, he

repeated his question; but in reply she only asked him if he had caught

any more barbel. Considering the surprisingly fine weather, the

barbel-fishing, and the piano on the other boat, Gilray was perhaps

as miserable as could reasonably have been expected. Where he ought to

have scored best, however, he was most unlucky. She had a hammock swung

between two trees, close to the boat, and there she lay, holding a novel

in her hand. From the hammock she had a fine view of the deck, and this

was Gilray's chance. As soon as he saw her comfortably settled, he

pulled a long face and climbed on deck. There he walked up and down,

trying to look the image of despair. When she made some remark to

him, his plan was to show that, though he answered cordially, his

cheerfulness was the result of a terrible inward struggle. He did

contrive to accomplish this if he was waiting for her observation; but

she sometimes took him unawares, starting a subject in which he was

interested. Then, forgetting his character, he would talk eagerly

or jest with her across the strip of water, until with a start he

remembered what he had become. He would seek to recover himself after

that; but of course it was too late to create a really lasting

impression. Even when she left him alone, watching him, I fear, over

the top of her novel, he disappointed himself. For five minutes or so

everything would go well; he looked as dejected as possible; but as he

fell he was succeeding he became so self-satisfied that he began to

strut. A pleased expression crossed his face, and instead of allowing

his head to hang dismally, he put it well back. Sometimes, when we

wanted to please him, we said he looked as glum as a mute at a funeral.

Even that, however, defeated his object, for it flattered him so much

that he smiled with gratification.

Gilray made one great sacrifice by giving up smoking, though not indeed

such a sacrifice as mine, for up to this time he did not know the

Arcadia Mixture. Perhaps the only time he really did look as miserable

as he wished was late at night when we men sat up for a second last pipe

before turning in. He looked wistfully at us from a corner. Yet as She

had gone to rest, cruel fate made this of little account. His gloomy

face saddened us too, and we tried to entice him to shame by promising

not to mention it to the ladies. He almost yielded, and showed us that

while we smoked he had been holding his empty brier in his right hand.

For a moment he hesitated, then said fiercely that he did not care for

smoking. Next night he was shown a novel, the hero of which had been

refused. Though the lady's hard-heartedness had a terrible effect on

this fine fellow, he strode away blowing great clouds into the air.

Standing there smoking in the moonlight, the authoress says in her

next chapter, De Courcy was a strangely romantic figure. He looked like

a man who had done everything, who had been through the furnace and had

not come out of it unscathed. This was precisely what Gilray wanted to

look like. Again he hesitated, and then put his pipe in his pocket.

It was now that I approached him with the Arcadia Mixture. I seldom

recommend the Arcadia to men whom I do not know intimately, lest in

the after-years I should find them unworthy of it. But just as Aladdin

doubtless rubbed his lamp at times for show, there were occasions when

I was ostentatiously liberal. If, after trying the Arcadia, the lucky

smoker to whom I presented it did not start or seize my hand, or

otherwise show that something exquisite had come into his life, I at

once forgot his name and his existence. I approached Gilray, then,

and without a word handed him my pouch, while the others drew nearer.

Nothing was to be heard but the water oozing out and in beneath the

house-boat. Gilray pushed the tobacco from him, as he might have pushed

a bag of diamonds that he mistook for pebbles. I placed it against his

arm, and motioned to the others not to look. Then I sat down beside

Gilray, and almost smoked into his eyes. Soon the aroma reached him,

and rapture struggled into his face. Slowly his fingers fastened on the

pouch. He filled his pipe without knowing what he was doing, and I

handed him a lighted spill. He took perhaps three puffs, and then gave

me a look of reverence that I know well. It only comes to a man once in

all its glory--the first time he tries the Arcadia Mixture--but it never

altogether leaves him.

Where do you get it? Gilray whispered, in hoarse delight.

The Arcadia had him for its own.