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当前位置:主页 > 英国小说 > 德伯家的苔丝 > 第4章 The Consequence后果
第15节 第二十六章 【
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一直到当天晚上家庭祈祷以后,安琪尔才找到机会把一两件心思对他的父亲说了。晚祷的时候,他跪在两个哥哥背后的地毯上,一面研究他们脚上穿的靴子后跟上的小钉子,一面在心里打定了主意。晚祷结束了,两个哥哥跟着母亲走了出去,屋子里只剩下他的父亲和他自己。
那个青年先是同他的父亲广泛地讨论了如何获得农场主地位的种种计划——要么就留在英格兰,要么就到殖民地去。后来他的父亲告诉他说,由于他没有花钱把安琪尔送到剑桥去接受教育,所以他当时就觉得自己有责任每年储蓄一笔钱,以便将来有一天给他买地或是租地,这样他就不会感到他的父亲对他不公平和薄待他了。
“就世俗的财富而论,”他的父亲接着说,“几年之内,你肯定就要比你的两个哥哥有钱多了。”
老克莱尔先生这一方待他既是这样周到,安琪尔就趁机把另一个他更关心的问题提了出来。他对他的父亲说,他已经二十六岁了,将来在他开始农场的事业时,他的脑后需要有一双眼睛,才照顾得了所有的事情——在他照看农场的时候,家里总得有一个人,帮他管理家中的事情。因此,他应不应该结婚呢?
他的父亲似乎认为他的想法不是没有道理,于是安琪尔才接着把问题提出米——
“我既然将来要做一个勤劳俭朴的农场主,那你觉得我最好娶一个什么样的姑娘做妻子呢?”
“一个真正的基督教徒,在你外出的时候,在你回家的时候,她既是你的帮手,又是你的安慰。除此而外,其它方面实在没有多大关系。这样的姑娘是不难找的;说实在的,现在就可以找到,我那个热心的朋友和邻居羌特博士——”
“但是,这个姑娘首先是不是应该会挤牛奶,会搅黄油,会做美味的奶酪呢?首先是不是应该懂得照顾母鸡和火鸡孵蛋,懂得照顾小鸡,懂得在紧急时候指挥工人种地,懂得给牛羊估价呢?”
“是的,做一个农场主的妻子应该是这样的;肯定是这样的。能这样最好不过了。”老克莱尔先生显然以前从来没有想到这些问题。“我还要补充一点,”他说,“你要找一个纯洁贤惠的姑娘,既要真正对你有利,又要确实让你的母亲和我感到满意,那么除了梅茜小姐,你就找不出另外一个人来。你从前也曾经对她表示过一点意思的。不错,我这位邻居羌特的女儿,近来也学到了我们这儿附近一些年轻牧师的毛病,像过节日似地拿一些鲜花之类的东西来装饰圣餐桌,也就是祭坛,有一天我听见她把祭坛叫做圣餐桌,还把我吓了一跳呢。不过她的父亲和我一样反对她这种俗套,说这种毛病是可以治好的。我相信这只不过是女孩子的心血来潮罢了,不会长久的。”
“说得对,说得对;我知道,梅茜小姐是一个品行端庄的虔诚的人。可是,父亲,你有没有想到过,如果一个人和梅茜·羌特小姐一样纯洁贤淑,尽管那位小姐的优点不在宗教方面,但是她能够像一个农场主那样懂得种地,对我来说是不是更加合适呢?”
他的父亲坚持自己的观点,认为一个农场主的妻子首先得有保罗对待人类的眼光,其次才是种庄稼的本事;安琪尔一时受到感情的驱使,他既要尊重他的父亲的感情,同时又要促成心中的婚姻大事,所以就说了一番貌似有理的话来。他说,命运或者上帝已经给他挑选了一个姑娘,无论从哪方面说,那个姑娘都配得上做一个农业家的伴侣和帮手,也肯定具有端庄稳重的性情。他不知道她信的教是否就是他父亲信的那个合理的低教派;但是她大概会接受低教派的信仰的;她是一个信仰单纯和按时上教堂的人;她心地忠厚,感觉敏悟,头脑聪明,举止也相当高雅,她像祭祀灶神的祭司一样纯洁,容貌也长得异常的美丽。
“她的出身是不是你愿意娶她的那种家庭,简而言之,她是不是一个小姐?”在他们谈话的时候,他的母亲悄悄地走进了书房,听了他的话大吃一惊,问他。
“按照普通的说法,她是不能被称为小姐的,”安琪尔急忙说,一点儿也不畏惧。“因为我可以骄傲地说,她是一个乡下小户人家的女儿。但是她在感情和天性方面,你不能不说她是一位小姐。”
“梅茜·羌特可是出身于一个高贵的家庭啊。”
“呸——那有什么好处,母亲?”安琪尔急忙说。“我现在不得不过劳苦的生活,将来也不得不过劳苦的生活,做我这种人的妻子家庭再好又有什么用处呢?”
“梅茜可是一个多才多艺的姑娘。多才多艺是自有魅力的,”他的母亲透过银边眼镜看着他,反驳他说。
“至于说到外在的才艺,它们对于我将要过的生活又有什么意义呢?——而说到读书,我可以亲自教她呀。你们因为不认识她,不然你们会说,她是一个多么聪明的学生啊。我可以这样比方说,她浑身上下充满了诗意——其实她本身就是诗。在理论上懂得诗的诗人只能把诗写出来,而她却是一首具有生命的诗……而且我敢肯定,她还是一个无可指摘的基督徒;也许她就是你们想宣扬的那一类典型中的一个。”
“啊,安琪尔,你是在说笑吧!”
“母亲,你听我说。每个礼拜天的早晨,她可真的都去了教堂,她是一个优秀的基督教徒,我敢肯定,她有了这种品质,你们就会容忍她在社会出身方面的缺陷了,就会认为我要是不娶她,那就是大错而特错了。”他心爱的苔丝身上的正统信仰,那完全是自发产生的,他当时看见苔丝和别的挤奶女工按时去作礼拜时,心里也是瞧不起的,因为在她们本质上是对自然崇拜的信仰里,作礼拜显然就不是诚心诚意的。可是他做梦也没有想到这一点竟会对他大有帮助,成了支持自己的理由,于是对这一点就越说越认真了。
克莱尔先生和克莱尔太太很有些怀疑他们的儿子声明那个他们不认识的年轻姑娘拥有的资格,他们的儿子自己是不是就有权利要求得到他说的那种资格,他们开始觉得有一个不能忽视的优点,那就是他的见解至少是正确的;他们尤其感到,他们的儿子和那个姑娘的缘分,必定是出于上帝的一种安排;因为克莱尔从来也不会把正统信仰看作他选择配偶的条件的。他们终于说,他最好不要匆忙行事,但是他们也不反对见见她。
因此,安琪尔现在也就对其它的细节避而不谈了。他总觉得,虽然他的父母心地单纯,有自我牺牲的精神,但是他们作为中产阶级的人,心中不免潜藏着某些偏见,这需要用点儿机智才能克服。虽然在法律上他有自由作主的权利,而且他们将来也可能要远远地离开他们生活,因此媳妇的身分就不会对父母的生活产生什么实际影响,但是为了父母的对自己的呵护,他希望在对自己一生作出最重要的决定时,不要伤害了父母的感情。
他在详述苔丝生活中的一些偶然事件时,把它们当成了最重要的特点,因此自己也觉得言不由衷。他爱苔丝,完全是为了苔丝自己;为了她的灵魂,为了她的心性,为了她的本质——而不是因为她有奶牛场里的技艺,有读书的才能,更不是因为她有纯洁的正统的宗教信仰。她那种天真纯朴的自然本色,无需习俗的粉饰,就能让他喜欢。他认为家庭幸福所依靠的感情和激情的搏动,教育对它们的影响是微乎其微的。经过许多个世纪以后,道德和知识训练的体系大概也有了改进,就会在一定程度上,也许在相当大的程度上提高人类天性中不自觉的、甚至是无意识的本能。但是就他看来,直到今天,也许可以说文化对于那些被置于它的影响之下的人,才在他们的表皮上产生了一点儿影响。他的这种信念,由于他同妇女接触的经验而得到证实,他同妇女的接触,近来已经从受过教育的中产阶级发展到了农村社会,并从中得出一个真理,一个社会阶层中贤惠聪明的女子和另一个社会阶层中贤惠聪明的女子,跟同一个阶层或阶级中的贤惠与凶恶、聪明与愚笨的女子比起来,她们本质上的差别是多么地小。
那天早晨是他离家的时候。他的两个哥哥早已经离开牧师住宅,往北徒步旅行去了,旅行完了,就一个回他的学院,另一个回到他的副牧师职位上去。安琪尔本来可以和他们一块儿去旅行,但是他更愿意回泰波塞斯去,好同他心爱的人会面。要是他们三个人一块儿去旅行,他一定会觉得很别扭,因为在三个人中间,虽然他是最有欣赏力的人文主义者,最有理想的宗教家,甚至是三个人中对基督最有研究的学者,但是他总觉得同他们的标准思想已经有了疏远,同他们为他准备的方圆格格不入。因此无论是对费利克斯还是卡斯伯特,他都没有提起过苔丝。
他的母亲亲自给他做了一些三明治,他的父亲骑上自己的一匹母马,陪着他走了一段路。既然自己的事情已经有了相当不错的进展,他也就心甘情愿地听父亲谈话,而自己一声不吭。他们骑着马一起在林阴路上一颠一颠地走着,他的父亲也就一边向他诉说教区上的困难,说他受到他所爱的同行牧师的冷淡,原因就是他按照加尔文的学说严格解释了《新约》,而他的同行们则认为加尔文学说是有害的。
“有害的!”老克莱尔先生用温和的鄙夷口气说;他接着又述说了过去的种种经历,用以说明那种思想是荒谬的。他列举了许多他亲自把浪子劝化过来的惊人例子,这些人中不仅有穷人,也有富人和中产阶级的人;同时他也坦率地承认,还有许多浪子没有被他劝化过来。
在没有被劝化过来的人里面,他提到一个例子。那个人的名字叫德贝维尔,是一个年轻的暴发户,住在特兰里奇,离这儿有四十里远近。
“在金斯伯尔那些地方,有一户古老的德贝维尔人家,他是不是这户人家里的人?”儿子问。“关于这户衰败了的人家,在它的离奇的历史里,还有一段四马大车的鬼怪传说呢。”
“啊,不是的。那户真的德贝维尔人家早在六十年前或者八十年前就衰败了,湮灭了——我相信至少是这样的。这一户人家似乎是新的,是冒名顶替的一户人家;为了前面说到的那个骑士家族的荣誉,但愿他们是假的才好。我原来以为你比我还不重视他们呢。”
“那你是误解我了,父亲;你经常误解我,”安琪尔有点儿不耐烦地说。“在政治上,我是怀疑古老家族的价值的。在他们自己中间,也有一些贤达人士,他们像哈姆雷特说的那样,‘大声反对他们自己的继承权’①;但是古老家族具有抒情性、戏剧性、历史性,倒容易引起我的幽情呢。”
 
①大声反对他们自己的继承权(exclaim against their own succession),见莎士比亚的悲剧《哈姆雷特》第二幕第二场。
这段插话尽管决不是不可理解的插话,但是对老克莱尔先生来说就不好理解了,于是他就继续说开了他刚才叙述的故事;故事里说,那个所谓的老德贝维尔死后,年轻的德贝维尔就放荡起来,做下了许多该受到最严厉惩罚的风流勾当,他还有一个瞎眼的母亲,他本应该从她的情形中知道警戒的。有一次克莱尔先生到那个地方去布道,听说了德贝维尔的行径,他就借机把这个人灵魂状况方面的罪行大胆地讲了一番。虽然他是一个外来牧师,占据的是别人的讲坛,但是他还是觉得他有责任劝导劝导他,于是他就引用圣徒路加的话作了自己布道的题目:“无知的人呐,今夜必要你的灵魂!”②这个青年痛恨他单刀直入的批评,后来他们相遇了,就激烈地争辩起来,并不顾忌他是一个头发灰白的老人,当众把克莱尔先生侮辱了一番。
②见《新约全书》“路加福音”第十二章第十二节。

安琪尔听了,难过得脸都红了。
“亲爱的父亲,”他伤心地说,“希望你以后不要去招惹这种流氓,不要去自寻不必要的痛苦。”
“痛苦?”他的父亲问,在他满是皱纹的脸上,闪耀着自我克制的热情。“我就是因为他的痛苦才感到痛苦的,可怜的愚蠢的青年!你以为他骂了我,甚至于打了我,就会使我感到痛苦吗?‘被人咒骂,我们就祝福;被人逼迫,我们就忍受。被人诽谤,我们就劝善;直到如今,人还把我们看作世界上的污秽,万物中的渣滓。’①这些对哥林多人说的古老而高贵的格言,现在也还是极其正确呢。”
 
①见《新约全书》“哥林多前书”第四章第十二节。

“他没有打你吧,父亲?他没有动手吧?”
“没有,他没有动手。不过我倒叫疯狂的醉汉打过。”
“啊!”
“有十几次呢,我的孩子。后来怎样了?我挨了打,可到底把他们从杀害他们自己骨肉的犯罪中拯救出来了;从此以后,他们一直感谢我,赞美上帝。”
“但愿这个年轻人也能那样!”安琪尔热烈地说。“不过我从你说的话看来,恐怕不能把他劝化过来。”
“不管怎样,我们还是希望能把他感化过来,”克莱尔先生说。“我不断地为他祈祷,虽然在这一辈子里,我们也许再也见不着面了。不过,说不定有一天,我对他说的这许多话,也许会有一句像一粒种子一样,在他的心里发芽生长。”
直到现在,克莱尔的父亲还是如同往常,像小孩子一样对什么事情都充满希望;虽然年轻的儿子不能接受那套狭隘的教条,但是他却尊敬父亲身体力行的精神,不能不承认他的父亲是一个虔诚的英雄。也许他现在比过去更加尊敬他父亲身体力行的精神了,因为他父亲在了解他同苔丝的婚事的时候,从来也没有想到要问她是富有呢还是贫穷。安琪尔正是同样拥有了这种超凡脱俗的精神,才走上了要当一个农场主的人生道路,而他的两个哥哥,大概也是因为这一点,才拥有了一个穷牧师的职位。但是安琪尔对他父亲的钦佩一点儿也没有减少。说实在的,尽管安琪尔信仰异端邪说,但是他常常觉得在做人方面,他比两个哥哥更接近父亲。
 

It was not till the evening, after family prayers, that Angel found opportunity of broaching to his father one or two subjects near his heart. He had strung himself up to the purpose while kneeling behind his brothers on the carpet, studying the little nails in the heels of their walking boots. When the service was over they went out of the room with their mother, and Mr Clare and himself were left alone.

The young man first discussed with the elder his plans for the attainment of his position as a farmer on an extensive scale either in England or in the Colonies. His father then told him that, as he had not been put to the expense of sending Angel up to Cambridge, he had felt it his duty to set by a sum of money every year towards the purchase or lease of land for him some day, that he might not feel himself unduly slighted.

`As far as worldly wealth goes,' continued his father, `you will no doubt stand far superior to your brothers in a few years.'

This considerateness on old Mr Clare's part led Angel onward to the other and dearer subject. He observed to his father that he was then six-and-twenty, and that when he should start in the farming business he would require eyes in the back of his head to see to all matters - some one would be necessary to superintend the domestic labours of his establishment whilst he was afield. Would it not be well, therefore, for him to marry?

His father seemed to think this idea not unreasonable; and then Angel put the question--

`What kind of wife do you think would be best for me as a thrifty hard-working farmer?'

`A truly Christian woman, who will be a help and a comfort to you in your goings-out and your comings-in. Beyond that, it really matters little. Such a one can be found; indeed, my earnest minded friend and neighbour, Dr Chant--'

`But ought she not primarily to be able to milk cows, churn good butter, make immense cheeses; know how to sit hens and turkeys, and rear chickens, to direct a field of labourers in an emergency, and estimate the value of sheep and calves?'

`Yes; a farmer's wife; yes, certainly. It would be desirable.' Mr Clare, the elder, had plainly never thought of these points before. `I was going to add,' he said, `that for a pure and saintly woman you will not find more to your true advantage, and certainly not more to your mother's mind and my own, than your friend Mercy, whom you used to show a certain interest in. It is true that my neighbour Chant's daughter has lately caught up the fashion of the younger clergy round about us for decorating the Communion-table - altar, as I was shocked to hear her call it one day - with flowers and other stuff on festival occasions. But her father, who is quite as opposed to such flummery as I, says that can be cured. It is a mere girlish outbreak which, I am sure, will not be permanent.'

`Yes, yes; Mercy is good and devout, I know. But, father, don't you think that a young woman equally pure and virtuous as Miss Chant, but one who, in place of that lady's ecclesiastical accomplishments, understands the duties of farm life as well as a farmer himself, would suit me infinitely better?'

His father persisted in his conviction that a knowledge of a farmer's wife's duties came second to a Pauline view of humanity; and the impulsive Angel, wishing to honour his father's feelings and to advance the cause of his heart at the same time, grew specious. He said that fate or Providence had thrown in his way a woman who possessed every qualification to be the helpmate of an agriculturist, and was decidedly of a serious turn of mind. He would not say whether or not she had attached herself to the sound Low Church School of his father; but she would probably be open to conviction on that point; she was a regular church-goer of simple faith; honest-hearted, receptive, intelligent, graceful to a degree, chaste as a vestal, and, in personal appearance, exceptionally beautiful.

`Is she of a family such as you would care to marry into - a lady, in short?' asked his startled mother, who had come softly into the study during the conversation.

`She is not what in common parlance is called a lady,' said Angel, unflinchingly, `for she is a cottager's daughter, as I am proud to say. But she is a lady, nevertheless - in feeling and nature.'

`Mercy Chant is of a very good family.'

`Pooh! - what's the advantage of that, mother?' said Angel quickly. `How is family to avail the wife of a man who has to rough it as I have, and shall have to do?'

`Mercy is accomplished. And accomplishments have their charm,' returned his mother, looking at him through her silver spectacles.

`As to external accomplishments, what will be the use of them in the life I am going to lead? - while as to her reading, I can take that in hand. She'll be apt pupil enough, as you would say if you knew her. She's brim full of poetry - actualized poetry, if I may use the expression. She lives# what paper-poets only write... And she is an unimpeachable Christian, I am sure; perhaps of the very tribe, genus, and species you desire to propagate.'

`O Angel, you are mocking!'

`Mother, I beg pardon. But as she really does attend Church almost every Sunday morning, and is a good Christian girl, I am sure you will tolerate any social shortcomings for the sake of that quality, and feel that I may do worse than choose her.' Angel waxed quite earnest on that rather automatic orthodoxy in his beloved Tess which (never dreaming that it might stand him in such good stead) he had been prone to slight when observing it practised by her and the other milkmaids, because of its obvious unreality amid beliefs essentially naturalistic.

In their sad doubts as to whether their son had himself any right whatever to the title he claimed for the unknown young woman, Mr and Mrs Clare began to feel it as an advantage not to be overlooked that she at least was sound in her views; especially as the conjunction of the pair must have arisen by an act of Providence; for Angel never would have made orthodoxy a condition of his choice. They said finally that it was better not to act in a hurry, but that they would not object to see her.

Angel therefore refrained from declaring more particulars now. He felt that, single-minded and self-sacrificing as his parents were, there yet existed certain latent prejudices of theirs, as middle-class people, which it would require some tact to overcome. For though legally at liberty to do as he chose, and though their daughter-in-law's qualifications could make no practical difference to their lives, in the probability of her living far away from them, he wished for affection's sake not to wound their sentiment in the most important decision of his life.

He observed his own inconsistencies in dwelling upon accidents in Tess's life as if they were vital features. It was for herself that he loved Tess; her soul, her heart, her substance - not for her skill in the dairy, her aptness as his scholar, and certainly not for her simple formal faith-professions. Her unsophisticated open-air existence required no varnish of conventionality to make it palatable to him. He held that education had as yet but little affected the beats of emotion and impulse on which domestic happiness depends. It was probable that, in the lapse of ages, improved systems of moral and intellectual training would appreciably, perhaps considerably, elevate the involuntary and even the unconscious instincts of human nature; but up to the present day culture, as far as he could see, might be said to have affected only the mental epiderm of those lives which had been brought under its influence. This belief was confirmed by his experience of women, which, having latterly been extended from the cultivated middle-class into the rural community, had taught him how much less was the intrinsic difference between the good and wise woman of one social stratum and the good and wise woman of another social stratum, than between the good and bad, the wise and the foolish, of the same stratum or class.

It was the morning of his departure. His brothers had already left the vicarage to proceed on a walking tour in the north, whence one was to return to his college, and the other to his curacy. Angel might have accompanied them, but preferred to rejoin his sweetheart at Talbothays. He would have been an awkward member of the party; for, though the most appreciative humanist, the most ideal religionist, even the best-versed Christologist of the three, there was alienation in the standing consciousness that his squareness would not fit the round hole that had been prepared for him. To neither Felix nor Cuthbert had he ventured to mention Tess.

His mother made him sandwiches, and his father accompanied him, on his own mare, a little way along the road. Having fairly well advanced his own affairs Angel listened in a willing silence, as they jogged on together through the shady lanes, to his father's account of his parish difficulties, and the coldness of brother clergymen whom he loved, because of his strict interpretations of the New Testament by the light of what they deemed a pernicious Calvinistic doctrine.

`Pernicious!' said Mr Clare, with genial scorn; and he proceeded to recount experiences which would show the absurdity of that idea. He told of wondrous conversions of evil livers of which he had been the instrument, not only amongst the poor, but amongst the rich and well-to-do; and he also candidly admitted many failures.

As an instance of the latter, he mentioned the case of a young upstart squire named d'Urberville, living some forty miles off, in the neighbourhood of Trantridge.

`Not one of the ancient d'Urbervilles of Kingsbere and other places?' asked his son. `That curiously historic worn-out family with its ghostly legend of the coach-and-four?'

`O no. The original d'Urbervilles decayed and disappeared sixty or eighty years ago - at least, I believe so. This seems to be a new family which has taken the flame; for the credit of the former knightly line I hope they are spurious, I'm sure. But it is odd to hear you express interest in old families. I thought you set less store by them even than I.'

`You misapprehend me, father; you often do,' said Angel with a little impatience. `Politically I am sceptical as to the virtue of their being old. Some of the wise even among themselves "exclaim against their own succession", as Hamlet puts it; but lyrically, dramatically, and even historically, I am tenderly attached to them.'

This distinction, though by no means a subtle one, was yet too subtle for Mr Clare the elder, and he went on with the story he had been about to relate; which was that after the death of the senior so-called d'Urberville the young man developed the most culpable passions, though he had a blind mother, whose condition should have made him know better. A knowledge of his career having come to the ears of Mr Clare, when he was in that part of the country preaching missionary sermons, he boldly took occasion to speak to the delinquent on his spiritual state. Though he was a stranger, occupying another's pulpit, he had felt this to be his duty, and took for his text the words from St Luke: `Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee!' The young man much resented this directness of attack, and in the war of words which followed when they met he did not scruple publicly to insult Mr Clare, without respect for his gray hairs.

Angel flushed with distress.

`Dear father,' he said sadly, `I wish you would not expose yourself to such gratuitous pain from scoundrels!'

`Pain?' said his father, his rugged face shining in the ardour of self-abnegation. `The only pain to me was pain on his account, poor, foolish young man. Do you suppose his incensed words could give me any pain, or even his blows) "Being reviled we bless; being persecuted we suffer it; being defamed we entreat; we are made as the filth of the world, and as the off scouring of all things unto this day." Those ancient and noble words to the Corinthians are strictly true at this present hour.'

`Not blows, father? He did not proceed to blows?'

`No, he did not. Though I have borne blows from men in a mad state of intoxication.'

`No!'

`A dozen times, my boy. What then? I have saved them from the guilt of murdering their own flesh and blood thereby; and they have lived to thank me, and praise God.'

`May this young man do the same!' said Angel fervently. `But I fear otherwise, from what you say.'

`We'll hope, nevertheless,' said Mr Clare. `And I continue to pray for him, though on this side of the grave we shall probably never meet again. But, after all, one of those poor words of mine may spring up in his heart as a good seed some day.'

Now, as always, Clare's father was sanguine as a child; and though the younger could not accept his parent's narrow dogma he revered his practice, and recognized the hero under the pietist. Perhaps he revered his father's practice even more now than ever, seeing that, in the question of making Tessy his wife, his father had not once thought of inquiring whether she were well provided or penniless. The same unworldliness was what had necessitated Angel's getting a living as a farmer, and would probably keep his brothers in the position of poor parsons for the term of their activities; yet Angel admired it none the less. Indeed, despite his own heterodoxy, Angel often felt that be was nearer to his father on the human side than was either of his brethren.