The Snob

2552 words 11 pages


The Snob by Morley Callaghan
1 IT WAS at the book counter in the department store that John Harcourt, the student, caught a glimpse of his father. At first he could not be sure in the crowd that pushed along the aisle, but there was something about the color of the back of the elderly man’s neck, something about the faded felt hat, that he knew very well. Harcourt was standing with the girl he loved, buying a book for her. All afternoon he had been talking to her, eagerly, but with an anxious diffidence, as if there still remained in him an innocent wonder that she should be delighted to be with him. From underneath her wide-brimmed straw hat, her face, so fair and
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Neither one could have been certain, yet John, as he turned away and began to talk hurriedly to Grace, knew surely that his father had seen him. He knew it by the steady calmness in his father’s blue eyes. John’s shame grew, and then humiliation sickened him as he waited and did nothing. 14 His father turned away, going down the aisle, walking erectly in his shabby clothes, his shoulders very straight, never once looking back. His father would walk slowly down the street, he knew, with that meditative expression deepening and becoming grave. 15 Young Harcourt stood beside Grace, brushing against her soft shoulder, and made faintly aware again of the delicate scent she used. There, so close beside him, she was holding within her everything he wanted to reach out for, only now he felt a sharp hostility that made him sullen and silent. 16 “You were right, John,” she was drawling in her soft voice. “It does get unbearable in here on a hot day. Do let’s go now. Have you ever noticed that department stores after a time can make you really hate people?” But she smiled when she spoke, so he might see that she really hated no one. 17 18 “You don’t like people, do you?” he said sharply. “People? What people? What do you mean?”

19 “I mean,” he went on irritably, “you don’t like the kind of people you bump into here, for example.” 20 “Not especially. Who does? What are you talking about?”

21 “Anybody could see you don’t,” he said recklessly, full of a savage


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