Pastors and Masters has continued to prove difficult to write about. Usually when that happens I come up with some strategy for attack. Attack! Break it down, pull it apart, expose all the works inside, say something. I managed only the tinest bit of that in my post on its style.
Part of what stymies me is how much that style makes the novella about its characters. The characters are all excellent—utterly unusual and lifelike. But again, back to the style, the only way to really talk about them is by telling you nearly everything they say. I’m sure you have a picture of Mr Merry at this point; there is more, yes, but there’s not much more I can tell you without simply quoting the rest of his lines.
So in my reluctance to leave such a brilliant work with the mediocre one-post treatment, I will get to the other subject that interests me right now: work in Pastors and Masters. It turned out to be quite relevant to The Project.
The boys’ school is run by Nicholas Herrick, a seventy-year-old bachelor who has a degree and supports his 20-odd-years-younger sister, bachelorette Emily. He does so by running the school—but as I mentioned, all he does for the school is to read morning prayers to the boys.
He does one other extremely important thing: he holds a degree, and when it’s prize-giving day and the parents come, he gets to wear his academic gown. Mr Merry, the real schoolmaster, does not have this privilege, but he has something else. This something is continually alluded to by the Herricks and their friends, Mssrs Masson and Bumpus, fellow degree-holders who have remained in academia. But “[t]he quality of Mr Merry’s that gained him his bread was never alluded to