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Master Eustace by By Henry James


Having handed me my cup of tea, she proceeded to make her own; an operation she performed with a delicate old-maidish precision I delighted to observe.

The story is not my own but that of persons with whom for a time I was intimately connected. I have led a quiet life. This is my only romance and its the romance of others. When I was a young woman of twenty-two my poor mother died, after a long, weary illness, and I found myself obliged to seek a new home. Making a home requires time and money. I had neither to spare, so I advertised for a situation, rating my accomplishments modestly, and asking rather for kind treatment than high wages. Mrs. Garnyer immediately answered my advertisement. She offered me a fair salary and a peaceful asylum. I was to teach her little boy the rudiments of my slender stock of sciences and to make myself generally useful. Something in her tone and manner assured me that in accepting this latter condition I was pledging myself to no very onerous servitude, and I never found reason to repent of my bargain. I had always valued my freedom before all things, and it seemed to me that in trading it away even partially I was surrendering a priceless treasure; but Mrs. Garnyer made service easy. I liked her from the first, and I doubt that she ever fairly measured my fidelity and affection. She knew that she could trust me, and she always spoke of me as a good creature; but she never estimated the trouble I saved her, or the little burdens I lifted from her pretty, feeble shoulders. Both in her position and her person there was something singularly appealing. She was in those days indeed she always remained a very pretty little woman. But she had grace even more than beauty. She was young, and looked even younger than her years; slight, light of tread and of gesture, though not at all rapid (for in all her movements there was a kind of pathetic morbid languor), and fairer, whiter, purer in complexion than any woman I have seen. She reminded me of a sketch from which the shading has been omitted. She had her shadows indeed, as well as her lights; but they were all turned inward. She might have seemed compounded of the airy substance of lights and shadows. Nature in making her had left out that wholesome leaden ballast of will, of logic, of worldly zeal, with which we are all more or less weighted. Experience, however, had given her a burden to carry; she was evidently sorrow-laden. She shifted the cruel weight from shoulder to shoulder, she ached and sighed under it, and in the depths of her sweet natural smile you saw it pressing the tears from her soul. Mrs. Garnyer s trouble, I confess, was in my eyes an added charm. I was desperately fond of a bit of romance, and as I was plainly never to have one of my own, I made the most of my neighbours. This secret sadness of hers would have covered more sins than I ever had to forgive her. At first, naturally, I connected her unavowed sorrow with the death of her husband; but as time went on, I found reason to believe that there had been little love between the pair. She had married against her will. Mr. Garnyer was fifteen years her senior, and, as she frankly intimated, coarsely and cruelly dissipated. Their married life had lasted but three years, and had come to an end to her great and obvious relief. Had he done her while it lasted some irreparable wrong? I fancied so; she was like a garden rose with half its petals plucked. He had left her with diminished means, though her property (mostly her own) was still ample for her needs. These, with those of her son, were extremely simple. To certain little luxuries she was obstinately attached; but her manner of life was so monotonous and frugal that she must have spent but a fraction of her income. It was her single son, the heir of her hopes, the apple of her eye that she intrusted to my care. He was five years old, and she had taught him his letters, a great feat, she seemed to think; she was as proud of it as if she had invented the alphabet for the occasion. She had called him Eustace, for she meant that he should have the best of everything, the prettiest clothes, the prettiest playthings, and the prettiest name. He was himself as pretty as his name, though but little like his mother. He was slight like her, but far more nervous and decided, and he had neither her features nor her colouring. Least of all had he her expression. Mrs. Garnyers attitude was one of tender, pensive sufferance modified by hopes, a certain half-mystical hope which seemed akin to religion, but which was not all religion, for the heaven she dreamed of was lodged here below. The boy from his early childhood wore an air of defiance and authority. He was not one to wait for things, good or evil, but to snatch boldly at the one sort and snap his fingers at the other. He had a pale, dark skin, not altogether healthy in tone; a mass of fine brown hair, which seemed given him just to emphasize by its dancing sweep the petulant little nods and shakes of his head; and a deep, wilful, malicious eye. His eyes told me from the first that I should have no easy work with him; and in spite of a vast expense of tact and tenderness, no easy work it turned out to be. His wits were so quick, however, and his imagination so lively, that I gradually managed to fill out his mothers meagre little programme of study. This had been drawn up with a sparing hand; her only fear was of his being overworked. The poor lady had but a dim conception of what a man of the world is expected to know. She thought, I believe, that with his handsome face, his handsome property, and his doting mother, he would need to know little more than how to sign that pretty name of Eustace to replies to invitations to dinners. I wonder now that with her constant interference I contrived to set the child intellectually on his legs. Later, when he had a tutor, I received a compliment for my perseverance.

The truth is, I became fond of him; his very imperfections fascinated me. He would soon enough have to take his chance of the worlds tolerance, and society would cease to consist for him of a couple of coaxing women. I told Mrs. Garnyer that there was never an easier child to spoil, and that those caressing hands of hers would sow a crop of formidable problems for future years. But Mrs. Garnyer was utterly incapable of taking a rational view of matters, or of sacrificing to-day to to-morrow; and her folly was the more incurable as it was founded on a strange, moonshiny little principle, a crude, passionate theory that love, love, pure love is the sum and substance of maternal duty; and that the love which reasons and exacts and denies is cruel and wicked and hideous. “I know you think I'm a silly goose", she said, “and not fit to have a child at all. But you're wrong, I promise you you're wrong. I'm very reasonable, I'm very patient; I have a great deal to bear, more than you know, and I bear it very well. But one can't be always on the stretch, always hard and wise and good. In some things one must break down and be ones poor, natural, lonely self. Eustace can't turn out wrong; its impossible; it would be too cruel. You mustn't say it nor hint it. I shall do with him as my heart bids me; he's all I have; he consoles me.”

My notions perhaps were a little old-fashioned; but surely it will never altogether go out of fashion to teach a child that he is not to have the moon by crying for it. Now Eustace had a particular fancy for the moon, for everything bright and inaccessible and absurd. his will was as sharp as a steel spring, and it was vain to attempt to bend it or break it. He had an indefeasible conviction that he was number one among men; and if he had been born in the purple, as they say, of some far-off Eastern court, or the last consummate fruit of a shadowy line of despots, he couldn't have been more closely curtained in this superb illusion. I pierced it here and there as roughly as I dared; but his mothers light fingers speedily repaired my punctures. The poor child had no sense of justice. He had the graceful virtues, but not the legal ones. He could condescend, he could forgive, he could permit this, that, and the other, with due leave asked; but he couldn't endure the hint of conflicting right. Poor puny little mortal, sitting there wrapped in his golden mist, listening to the petty trickle of his conscious favour and damming it——a swelling fountain of privileges! He could love, love passionately; but he was so jealous and exacting that his love cost you very much more than it was worth. I found it no sinecure to possess the confidence I had striven so cunningly to obtain. He fancied it a very great honour that he should care to harness me up as his horse, to throw me his ball by the hour, to have me joggle with him (sitting close to the middle) on the see-saw till my poor bones ached. Nevertheless, in this frank, childish arrogance there was an almost irresistible charm, and I was absurdly flattered by enjoying his favour. Poor me! at twenty-three I was his first conquest the first in a long list, as I believe it came to be. If he demanded great license, he used it with a peculiar grace of his own, and he admitted the corresponding obligation of being clever and brilliant. As a child even, lie seemed to he in a sort of occult sympathy with the picturesque. His talents were excellent, and teaching him, whatever it may have been, was at least not dull work. It was indeed less to things really needful than to the luxuries of learning that he took most kindly. He had an excellent ear for music, and though he never fairly practised, he turned off an air as neatly as you could have wished. In this he resembled his mother, who was a natural musician. She, however, was always at the piano, and whenever I think of her in those early years, I see her sitting before it musingly, half sadly, with her pretty head on one side, her fair braids thrust behind her ears, ears from which a couple of small but admirable diamonds were never absent, and her white hands wandering over the notes, seeking vaguely for an air which they seemed hardly to dare to remember. Eustace had an insatiable appetite for stories, though he was one of the coolest and most merciless of critics. I can fancy him now at my knee with his big, superbly-expectant eyes fastened on my lips, demanding more wonders and more, till my poor little short-winded invention had to cry mercy for its impotence. do my best, I could never startle him; my giants were never big enough and my fairies never small enough, and my enchanters, my prisoners, my castles never on the really grand scale of his own imaginative needs. I felt pitifully prosaic. At last he would always open his wilful little mouth and gape in my face with a dreadfully dry want of conviction. I felt flattered when by chance I had pleased him, for, by a precocious instinct, he knew tinsel from gold. “Look here", he would say, “you're dreadfully ugly; what makes you so ugly? Your nose is so big at the end.” (You needn't protest; I was ugly. Like most very plain women, I have improved with time.) Of course I used to rebuke him for his rudeness, though I secretly thanked it, for it taught me a number of things. Once he said something, I forget what, which made me burst into tears. It was the first time, and the last; for I found that, instead of stirring his pity, tears only moved his contempt, and apparently a kind of cynical, physical disgust. The best way was to turn the tables on him by pretending to be cool and indifferent and superior. In that case he himself would condescend to tears, bitter, wrathful tears. Then you had perhaps gained nothing, but you had lost nothing. In every other case you had.

Of course these close relations lasted but a couple of years. I had made him very much wiser than myself; he was growing tall and boyish and terribly inquisitive. My poor little stories ceased to have any illusion for him; and he would spend hours lying on his face on the carpet, kicking up his neat little legs and poring over the Arabian Nights, the Fairy Queen, the dozen prime enchanters of childhood. My advice would have been to pack him off to school; but I might as well have asked his mother to send him to the penitentiary. He was to be educated en prince; he was to have a teacher to himself I thought sympathetically of the worthy pedagogue who was to enjoy Eustace without concurrence. But such a one was easily found, in fact, he was found three times over. Three private tutors came and went successively. They fell in love, categorically, with Mrs. Garnyer. Their love indeed she might have put up with; but unhappily, unlike Viola, they told their love by letter, with an offer of their respective hands. Their letters were different, but to Mrs. Garnyer their hands were all alike, and alike distasteful. The horrid creatures! was her invariable commentary. I wouldn't speak to them for the world. My dear, you must do it. And I, who had never declined an offer on my own account, went to work in this wholesale fashion for my friend! You will say that young as she was, pretty, independent, lovely, Mrs. Garnyer would have looked none the worse for a spice of coquetry. Nay, in her own eyes, she would have been hideous. Her greatest charm for me was a brave little passion of scorn for this sort of levity, and indeed a general contempt for cheap sentimental effects. It was as if, from having drunk at the crystal head-spring, she had lost her taste for standing water. She was absolutely indifferent to attention; in fact, she seemed to shrink from it. She hadn't a trace of personal vanity; she was even without visible desire to please. Unfortunately, as you see, she pleased in spite of herself. As regards love, she had an imposing array of principles; on this one point her floating imagination found anchorage. “Its either a passion", she said, “or its nothing. You can know it by being willing to give up everything for it, name and fame, past and future, this world and the next. Do you keep back a feathers weight of tenderness or trust? Then you're not in love. You must risk everything, for you get everything, if you're happy. I can't understand a woman trifling with love. They talk about the unpardonable sin; that's it, it seems to me. Do you know the word in the language I most detest? Flirtation. Poh! it makes me ill”. When Mrs. Garnyer uttered this hint of an esoteric doctrine, her clear blue eyes would become clouded with the gathered mists of memory. In this matter she understood herself and meant what she said.

Defiant as she was of admiration, she saw little of the world. She met her few friends but two or three times a year, and was without a single intimate. As time went on, she came to care more for me than for any one. When Eustace had outgrown my teaching, she insisted on my remaining in any capacity I chose, as housekeeper, companion, seamstress, guest; I might make my own terms. I became a little of each of these, and with the increasing freedom of our intercourse grew to regard her as a younger and weaker sister. I gave her, for what it was worth, my frankest judgment on all things. Her own confidence always stopped short of a certain point. A little curtain of reticence seemed always to hang between us. Sometimes I fancied it growing thinner and thinner, becoming almost transparent and revealing the figures behind it. Sometimes it seemed to move and flutter in the murmur of our talk, so that in a moment it might drop or melt away into air. But it was a magical web; it played a hundred tormenting tricks, and year after year it hung in its place. Of course this inviolate mystery stirred my curiosity, but I can't say more for the disinterested tenderness I felt for Mrs. Garnyer than that it never unduly irritated it. I lingered near the door of her Blue-Beards chamber, but I never peeped through the keyhole. She was a poor lady with a secret; I took her into my heart, secret and all. She proclaimed that her isolation was her own choice, and pretended to be vastly content that society let her so well alone. She made her widowhood serve as a motive for her lonesome days, and declared that her boys education amply filled them. She was a widow, however, who never of her own accord mentioned her husbands name, and she wore her weeds very lightly. She was very fond of white, and for six months of the year was rarely seen in a dark dress. Occasionally, on certain fixed days, she would flame forth in some old-fashioned piece of finery from a store which she religiously preserved, and would flash about the house in rose-colour or blue. One day, her boys birthday, she kept with fantastic solemnity. It fell in the middle of September. On this occasion she would put on a faded ball-dress, overload herself with jewels and trinkets, and dress her hair with flowers. Eustace, too, she would trick out in a suit of crimson velvet, and in this singular guise the pair would walk with prodigious gravity about the garden and up and down the avenue. Every now and then she would stoop and give him a convulsive hug. The child himself seemed to feel the magnitude of this festival, and played his part with precocious discretion. He would appear at dark with the curl still in his hair, his velvet trousers unstained, his ruffles uncrumpled. In the evening the coachman let off rockets in the garden; we feasted on ice-cream, and a bottle of champagne was sent to the kitchen. No wonder Master Eustace took on the graces of an heir-apparent! Once, I remember, the mother and son were overtaken in their festal promenade by some people who had come to live in the neighbourhood, and who drove up rather officiously to leave their cards. They stared in amazement from the carriage window, and were told Mrs. Garnyer was not at home. A few days later we heard that Mrs. Garnyer was out of her mind; she had been found masquerading in her grounds with her little boy, in the most indecent costume. From time to time she received an invitation, and occasionally she accepted one. When she went out she deepened her mourning, but she always came home in a fret. “It is the last house I will go to", she declared, as I helped her to undress. “Peoples neglect I can bear, and thank them for it; but Heaven deliver me from their kindness! I wont be patronized, I won't, I won't! Shall I, my boy? We'll wait till you grow up, shan't we, my darling? then his poor little mother shan't be patronized, shall she, my brave little man?” The child was constantly dangling at his mothers skirts, and was seldom beyond the reach of some such passionate invocation.

A preceptor had at last been found of a less inflammable composition than the others, a worthy, elderly German of fair attainments, with a stout, sentimental wife——she gave music lessons in town——who monopolized his ardours. He was a mild, patient man——a nose of wax, as the saying is. A pretty nose it grew to be in Eustace's supple fingers! I'll answer for it that in all those years he never carried a point. I believe that, like me, he had begun with tears; but finding this an altogether losing game, he was content now to take off his spectacles, drop his head on one side, look imploringly at his pupil with his weak blue eyes, and then exhale his renunciation in a plaintive Lieber Gott! Under this discipline the boy bloomed like a flower. But it was to my sense a kind of hothouse growth. His tastes were sedentary, and he lived largely within doors. He kept a horse and took long lonely rides; but most of the time he spent lounging over a book, trifling at the piano, or fretting over a water-colour sketch, which he was sure to throw aside in disgust. One amusement he pursued with unwearying constancy; it was a sign of especial good humour, and I never knew it to fail him, he would sit for hours lounging in a chair, with his head thrown back and his legs extended, staring at vacancy, or what seemed to us so, but a vacancy filled with the silent revel of his fancy and the images it evoked. What was the substance of these beatific visions? The broad, happy life before him, the great world whose far-off murmurs caressed his ear, the joys of consummate manhood, pleasure, success, prosperity a kind of triumphant and transfigured egotism. his reveries swarmed with ideal shapes and transcendent delights; his handsome young face, his idle, insolent smile were the cold reflections of their brightness. His mother, after watching him for a while in these moods, would steal up behind him and kiss him softly on the forehead, as if to marry his sweet illusions to sweet reality. For my part, I wanted to divorce them. It was a sad pity, I thought, that desire and occasion in the lads life played so deftly into each others hands. I longed to spoil the game, to shuffle the cards afresh and give him a taste of bad luck. I felt as if between them, she by her measureless concessions, he by his consuming arrogance, they were sowing a crop of dragons teeth. This sultry summer of youth couldn't last for ever, and I knew that the poor lady would be the first to suffer by a change of weather. He would turn some day in his passionate vanity and rend the gentle creature who had fed it with the delusive wine of her love. And yet he had a better angel as well as a worse. It was a marvel to see how this sturdy seraph tussled with the fiends, and, in spite of bruises and ruffled pinions, returned again and again to the onset. There were days when his generous, boyish gayety——the natural sunshine of youth and intelligence——warmed our women's hearts to their depths and kindled our most trusting smiles. Me, as he grew older, he treated as a licensed old-time friend. I was the princes jester. I used to tell him his truths, as the French say. He believed them just enough to feel an agreeable irritation in listening; for the rest, doubtless, they seemed as vague and remote as a croaking good-wife's gossip. There were moments, I think, when the eternal blue sky of his mothers temper wearied his capricious brain. At such times he would come and sprawl on the sofa near my little work-table, clipping my threads, mixing my spools, mislaying my various utensils, and criticising my work without reserve——chattering, gossiping, complaining, boasting. With all his faults Eustace had one sovereign merit——that merit without which even the virtues he lacked lose half their charms: he was superbly frank. He was only too transparent. The light of truth played through his rank pretensions, and against it they stood relieved in this hard tenacity, like young trees against a sunset. He uttered his passions, and uttered them only too loudly; you received ample notice of his vengeance. It came as a matter of course; he never took it out in talk; but you were warned.

If these intense meditations of which I have spoken followed exclusively the vista of his personal fortunes, his conversation was hardly more disinterested. It was altogether about himself——his ambitions, his ailments, his dreams, his needs, his intentions. He talked a great deal of his property, and, though he had a great aversion to figures, he knew the amount of his expectations before he was out of jackets. He had a shrewd relish for luxury——and indeed, as he respected pretty things and used them with a degree of tenderness which he by no means lavished upon animated objects, saving, sparing, and preserving them, this seemed to me one of his most human traits, though, I admit, an expensive virtue——and he promised to spend his fortune in books and pictures, in art and travel. His mother was imperiously appealed to, to do the honours of his castles in the air. She would look at him always with her doting smile, and with a little glow of melancholy in her eyes——a faint tribute to some shadowy chance that even her Eustace might reckon without his host. She would shake her head tenderly, or lean it on his shoulder and murmur, “Who knows, who knows? Its perhaps as foolish, my son, to try and forecast happiness as to attempt to take the measure of misery. We know them each when they come. Whatever comes to us, at all events, we shall meet it together”. Resting in this delicious contact, with her arm round his neck and her cheek on his hair, she would close her eyes in a kind of tremor of ecstasy. As I have never had a son myself, I can speak of maternity but by hearsay; but I feel as if I knew some of its secrets, as if I had gained from Mrs. Garnyer a revelation of maternal passion. The perfect humility of her devotion, indeed, seemed to me to point to some motive deeper than vulgar motherhood. It looked like a kind of penance, a kind of pledge. had she done him some early wrong? Did she meditate some wrong to come? Did she wish to purchase pardon for the past or impunity for the future? One might have fancied from the lads calm relish of her incense——as if it were the fumes of some perfumed chibouque palpitating lazily through his own lips——that he had a comfortable sense of something to forgive. In fact, he had something to forgive us all——our dullness, our vulgarity, our not guessing his unuttered desires——the want of a supercelestial harmony between our wills and his. I fancied, however, that there were even moments when he turned dizzy on the cope of this awful gulf of his mothers self-sacrifice. Fixing his eyes, then, an instant to steady himself, he took comfort in the thought that she had ceased to suffer——her personal ambitions lay dead at the bottom. He could vaguely see them——distant, dim, motionless. It was to he hoped that no adventurous ghost of these shuffled passions would climb upward to the light.

A frequent source of complaint with Eustace, when he had no more immediate displeasure, was that he had not known his father. He had formed a mental image of the late Mr. Garnyer which I am afraid hardly tallied at all points with the original. He knew that his father had been a man of pleasure, and he had painted his portrait in ideal hues. What a charming father——a man of pleasure! the boy thought, fancying that gentlemen of this stamp take their pleasure in the nursery. What pleasure they might have shared; what rides, what talks, what games, what adventures——what far other hours than those he passed in the deserted billiard-room (this had been one of Mr. Garnyers pleasures) clicking the idle balls in the stillness. He learned to talk very early of shaping his life on his fathers. What he had done his son would do. A dozen odds and ends which had belonged to Mr. Garnyer he carried to his room, where he arranged them on his mantel-shelf like relics on a high altar. When he had turned seventeen he began to smoke an old silver-mounted pipe which had his fathers initials embossed on the bowl. “It would be a great blessing", he said as he puffed this pipe——it made him dismally sick, for he hated tobacco——"to have some man in the house. Its so fearfully womanish here. No one but you two and Hauff, and what's he but an old woman? Mother, why have you always lived in this way? What's the matter with you? You've got no savoir vivre. What are you blushing about? That comes of moping here all your days——that you blush for nothing. I don't want my mother to blush for anything or any one, not even for me. But I give you notice, I can stand it no longer. Now I'm seventeen, its time I should see the world. I'm going to travel. My father travelled; he went all over Europe. There's a little French book up stairs, the poems of Parny——its awfully French, too——with Henry Garnyer, Paris, 1802, on the fly-leaf. I must go to Paris. I shan't go to college. I've never been to school. I want to be complete——privately educated altogether. Very few people are, here; its quite a distinction. Besides, I know all I want to know. Hauff brought me out some college catalogues. They're absurd; he laughs at them. We did all that three years ago. I know more about books than most young fellows; what I want is knowledge of the world. My father had it, and you haven't, mother. But he had plenty of taste, too. Hauff says that little edition of Parny is very rare. I shall bring home lots of such things. You'll see!” Mrs. Garnyer listened to such effusions of filial emulation in sad, distracted silence. I couldn't but pity her. She knew that her husband was no proper model for her child; yet she couldn't in decency turn his heart against his fathers memory. She took refuge in that attitude of tremulous contemplation which committed her neither to condemnation of her husband nor to approval with her son.

She had recourse at this period, as I had known her to do before, to a friend attached to a mercantile house in India——an old friend, she had told me; in fact, she had added, my only friend, a man to whom I am under immense obligations. Once in six months there came to her from this distant benefactor a large square letter, heavily sealed and covered with foreign post-marks. I used to fancy it a kind of bulletin of advice for the coming half year. Advice about what? Her cares were so few, her habits so simple, that they offered scanty matter for discussion. But now, of course, came a packet of counsel as to Eustace's absence. I knew that she dreaded it; but since her oracle had spoken, she wore a brave face. She was certainly a devout postulant. She concealed from Eustace the extent of her dependence on this far-away adviser, for the boy would have resented such interference, even though it favoured his own schemes. She had always read her friends letters in secret; this was the only practice of her life she failed to share with her son. Me she now for the first time admitted into her confidence. “Mr. Cope strongly recommends my letting him go", she said. “He says it will make a man of him. He needs to rub against other men. I suppose at least", she cried with her usual sweet fatuity, “it will do other men no harm! Perhaps I don't love him as I ought, and that I must lose him awhile to learn to prize him. If I only get him back again! It would be monstrous that I shouldn't! But why are we cursed with these frantic woes and fears? Its a weary life!” She would have said more if she had known that it was not his departure but his return that was to be cruel.

The excellent Mr. Hauff was deemed too mild and infirm to cope with the hazards of travel; but a companion was secured in the person of his nephew, an amiable young German who claimed to possess erudition and discretion in equal manner. For a week before he left us Eustace was so serene and joyous of humour as to double his mothers sense of loss. “I give her into your care", he said to me. “If anything happens to her, I shall hold you responsible. She is very woe-begone just now, but she'll cheer up yet. But, mother, you're not to be too cheerful, mind. You're not to forget me an instant. If you do, Ill never forgive you. I insist on being missed. There's little enough merit in loving me when I'm here; I wish to be loved in my absence”. For many weeks after he left, he might have been satisfied. His mother wandered about like a churchyard ghost keeping watch near a buried treasure. When his letters began to come, she read them over a dozen times, and sat for hours with her eyes closed holding them in her hand. They were wretchedly meagre and hurried; but their very brevity gratified her. He was prosperous and happy, and could snatch but odd moments from his pleasure-taking.

One morning, after he had been away some three months, there came two letters, one from Eustace, the other from India, the latter very much in advance of its time. Mrs. Garnyer opened the Indian letter first. I was pouring out tea; I observed her from behind the urn. As her eyes ran over the pages she turned deadly pale; then raising her glance she met mine. Immediately her paleness turned to crimson. She rose to her feet and hurried out of the room, leaving Eustace's letter untouched on the table. This little fact was eloquent, and my curiosity was aroused. Later in the day it was partially satisfied. She came to me with a singular conscious look——the look of a sort of oppression of happiness——and announced that Mr. Cope was coming home. He had obtained release from his engagements in India, and would arrive in a fortnight. She uttered herewith no words of rejoicing, but I fancied her joy was of the unutterable sort. As the days elapsed, however, her emotion betrayed itself in a restless, aimless flutter of movement, so intense as to seem to me almost painful. She roamed about the house singing to herself, gazing out of the windows, shifting the chairs and tables, smoothing the curtains, trying vaguely to brighten the faded look of things. Before every mirror she paused and inspected herself, with that frank audacity of pretty women which I have always envied, tucking up a curl of her blond hair or smoothing a crease in those muslins which she always kept so fresh. Of Eustace for the moment she rarely spoke; the boys prediction had not been so very much amiss. Who was this wonderful Mr. Cope, this mighty magician?

I very soon learned. He arrived on the day he had fixed, and took up his lodging in the house. From the moment I looked at him, I felt that here was a man I should like. My poor unflattered soul, I suppose, was won by the kindness of his greeting. He had often heard of me, he said; be knew how good a friend I had been to Mrs. Garnyer; he begged to bespeak a proportionate friendship for himself. I felt as if I were amply thanked for my years of household zeal. But in spite of this pleasant assurance, I had a sense of being for the moment altogether de trop. He was united to his friend by a closer bond than I had suspected. I left them alone with their mutual secrets and effusions, and confined myself to my own room; though indeed I had noticed between them a sort of sentimental intelligence, so deep and perfect that many words were exchanged without audible speech. Mrs. Garnyer underwent a singular change; I seemed to know her now for the first time. It was as if she had flung aside a veil which muffled her tones and blurred her features. There was a new decision in her tread, a deeper meaning in her smile. So, at thirty-eight her girlhood had come back to her! She was as full of blushes and random prattle and foolish falterings for very pleasure as a young bride. Upon Mr. Cope the years had set a more ineffaceable seal. He was a man of forty-five, but you would have given him ten years more. He had that look which I have always liked of people who have lived in hot climates, a bronzed complexion, and a cool deliberate gait, as if he had learned to think twice before moving. He was tall and lean, yet extremely massive in shape, like a stout man emaciated by circumstances. his hair was thin and perfectly white, and he wore a grizzled moustache. He dressed in loose light-coloured garments of those fine Eastern stuffs. I had a singular impression of having seen him before, but I could never say when or where. He was extremely deaf——so deaf that I had to force my voice; though I observed that Mrs. Garnyer easily made him hear by speaking slowly and looking at him. He had peculiarly that patient appealing air which you find in very deaf persons less frequently than in the blind, but which has with them an even deeper eloquence, enforced as it is by the normal pathos of the eye. It has an especially mild dignity where, as in Mr. Cope, it overlies a truly masculine mind. He had been obliged to make good company of himself, and the glimpses that one got of this blessed fellowship in stillness were of a kind to make one long to share it. But with others, too, he was a charming talker, though he was obliged to keep the talk in his own hands. He took your response for granted with a kind of conciliating bonhomie, guessed with a glance at your opinion, and phrased it usually more wittily than you would have done.

For ten years I had been pitying Mrs. Garnyer; it was odd to find myself envying her. Patient waiting is no loss; at last her day had come. I had always rather wondered at her patience; it was spiced with a logic all its own. But she had lived by precept and example, by chapter and verse; for his sake it was easy to be wise. I say for his sake, because as a matter of course I now connected her visitor with that undefined secret which had been one of my earliest impressions of Mrs. Garnyer. Mr. Copes presence renewed my memory of it. I fitted the key to the lock, but on coming to open the casket I was disappointed to find that the best of the mystery had evaporated. Mr. Cope, I imagined, had been her first and only love. Her parents had frowned on him and forced her into a marriage with the poor dissolute Mr. Garnyer——a course the more untender as he had already spent half his own property and was likely to make sad havoc with his wife's. He had a high social value, which the girls own family, who were plain enough people to have had certain primitive scruples in larger measure, deemed a compensation for his vices. The discarded lover, thinking she had not resisted as firmly as she might, embarked for India, and there, half in spite, half in despair, married as sadly amiss as herself. She had trifled with his happiness; he lived to repent. His wife lived as well to perpetuate his misery; it was my belief that she had only recently died, and that this event was the occasion of his return. When he arrived he wore a weed on his hat; the next day it had disappeared. Reunion had come to them in the afternoon of life, when the tricks and graces of passion are no longer becoming; but when these have spent themselves something of passion still is left. And this they were free to enjoy. They had begun to enjoy it with the chastened zeal of which I caught the aroma. Such was my reading of the riddle. Right or not, at least it made sense.

I had promised Eustace to write to him, and one afternoon as I sat alone, well pleased to have a theme, I despatched him a long letter full of the praises of Mr. Cope, and by implication of the echo of his mothers happiness. I wished to anticipate his possible suspicions and reconcile him with the altered situation. But after I had posted my letter, it seemed to me that I had spoken too frankly. I doubted whether, even amid the wholesome novelty of travel, he had unlearned the old trick of jealousy. Jealousy surely would have been quite misplaced, for Mr. Copes affection for his hostess embraced her boy in its ample scope. He regretted the lads absence; he manifested the kindliest interest in everything that spoke of him; he turned over his books, he looked at his sketches, he examined and compared the half dozen portraits which the fond mother had caused to be executed at various stages of his growth. One hot day, when poor old Mr. Hauff travelled out from town for news of his pupil, he made a point of being introduced and of shaking his hand. The old man stayed to dinner, and on Mr. Copes proposition we drank the boys health in brimming glasses. The old German of course wept profusely; it was Eustace's mission to make people cry. I fancied too I saw a tear on Mr. Copes lid. The cup of his contentment was full; at a touch it overflowed. On the whole, however, he took this bliss of reunion more quietly than his friend, he was a melancholy man. He had the air of one for whom the moral of this fable of life has greater charms than the plot, and who has made up his mind to ask no favours of destiny. When he met me, he used to smile gently, frankly; saying little; but I had a vast relish for his smile. It seemed to say much——to murmur, “Receive my compliments. You and I are a couple of tested souls; we understand each other. We are not agog with the privileges of existence, like charity children on a picnic. We have had, each of us, to live for years without the thing we once fancied gave life its only value. We have tasted of bondage, and patience, taken up as a means, has grown grateful as an end. It has cured us of eagerness”. So easily it gossiped, the smile of our guest. No wonder I liked it.

One evening, a month after his advent, Mrs. Garnyer came to me with a strange, embarrassed smile. “I have something to tell you", she said; “something that will surprise you. Do you consider me a very old woman? I am old enough to be wiser, you'll say. But I've never been so wise as to-day. I'm engaged to Mr. Cope. There! make the best of it. I have no apologies to make to any one", she went on with a kind of defiant manner. “Its between ourselves. If we suit each other, its no ones business. I know what I'm about. He means to remain in this country; we should be constantly together and extremely intimate. As he says, I'm young enough to be——what do they call it?——compromised. Of course, therefore, I'm young enough to marry. It will make no difference with you; you'll stay with me all the same. Who cares, after all, what I do? No one but Eustace, and he will thank me for giving him such a father. Ah, I shall do well by my boy!” she cried, clasping her hands with ecstasy. “I shall do better than he knows. My property, it appears, is dreadfully entangled. Mr. Garnyer did as he pleased with it; I was given to him with my hands tied. Mr. Cope has been looking into it, and he tells me that it will be a long labour to restore order. I have been living all these years at the mercy of unprincipled strangers. But now I have given up everything to Mr. Cope. Hell drive the money-changers from the temple! Its a small reward to marry him. Eustace has no head for money matters; he only knows how to spend. For years now he needn't think of them. Mr. Cope is our providence. Don't be afraid; Eustace wont blaspheme! and at last hell have a companion——the best, the wisest, the kindest. You know how he used to long for one——how tired he was of me and you. It will be a new life. Oh, I'm a happy mother——at last——at last! Don't look at me so hard; I'm a blushing bride, remember. Smile, laugh, kiss me. There! You're a good creature. I shall make my boy a present——the handsomest that ever was made! Poor Mr. Cope! I'm happier than he. I have had my boy all these years, and he has had none. He has the heart of a father. He has longed for a son. Do you know", she added with a strange deepening of her smile, “that I think he marries me as much for my sons sake as for my own? He marries me at all events, boy and all!” This speech was uttered with a forced and hurried animation which betrayed the effort to cheat herself into pure enthusiasm. The matter was not quite so simple as she tried to believe. Nevertheless, I was deeply pleased, and I kissed her in genuine sympathy. The more I thought of it the better I liked the marriage. It relieved me personally of a burdensome sense of ineffectual care, and it filled out solidly a kind of defenceless breach which had always existed on the worldly face of Mrs. Garnyers position. Moreover, it promised to be full of wholesome profit for Eustace. It was a pity that Eustace had but a slender relish for wholesome profit. I ventured to hope, however, that his high esteem for his fathers memory had been, at bottom, the expression of a need for counsel and support, and of a capacity to grant respect if there should he something of inspiration in it. Yet I took the liberty of suggesting to Mrs. Garnyer that she perhaps counted too implicitly on her sons concurrence; that he was always in opposition; that a margin should be left for his possible jealousy. Of course I was called a suspicious wretch for my pains.

“For what do you take him?” she cried. “He'll thank me on his knees. I shall place them face to face. Eustace has instinct! A word to the wise, says the proverb. I know what I'm about.”

She knew it, I think, hardly as well as she declared. I had deemed it my duty to make a modest little speech of congratulation to the bridegroom elect. He blushed——somewhat to my surprise——but he answered me with a grave, grateful bow. He was preoccupied; Mrs. Garnyer was of a dozen different minds about her wedding-day. I had taken for granted that they would wait for Eustace's return; but I was somewhat startled on learning that Mr. Cope disapproved of further delay. They had waited twenty years! Mrs. Garnyer told me that she had not announced the news to Eustace. She wished it to be a “surprise”. She seemed, however, not altogether to believe in her surprise. Poor lady! she had made herself a restless couch. One evening, coming into the library, I found Mr. Cope pleading his cause. For the first time I saw him excited. This hint of autumnal ardour was very becoming. He turned appealingly to me. “You have great authority with this lady", he said. “Plead my case. Are we people to care for Mrs. Grundy? Has she been so very civil to us? We don't marry to please her; I don't see why she should arrange the wedding. Mrs. Garnyer has no trousseau to buy, no cards to send. Indeed, I think any more airs and graces are rather ridiculous. They don't belong to our years. There's little Master Grundy, I know", he went on, smiling——"a most honourable youth! But I'll take charge of him. I should like vastly, of course, to have him at the wedding; but one of these days I shall make up for the breach of ceremony by punctually attending his own”. It was only an hour before this, as it happened, that I had received Eustace's answer to my letter. It was brief and hasty, but he had found time to insert some such words as this: “I don't at all thank you for your news of Mr. Cope. I knew that my mother only wanted a chance to forget me and console herself, as they say in France. Demonstrative mothers always do. I'm like Hamlet——I don't approve of mothers consoling themselves. Mr. Cope may be an excellent fellow-I've no doubt he is; but I do hope he will have made his visit by the time I get back. The house isn't large enough for both of us. You'll find me a bigger man than when I left home. I give you warning. I've got a roaring black moustache, and I'm proportionately fiercer”. I said nothing about this letter. A week later they were married. The time will always be memorable to me, apart from this matter of my story, from the intense and overwhelming heat which then prevailed. It had lasted several days when the wedding took place; it bade fair to continue unbroken. The ceremony was performed by the little old Episcopal clergyman whose ministrations Mrs. Garnyer had regularly attended, and who had always given her a vague parochial countenance. his sister, a mature spinster who wore her hair cut short, and called herself strong-minded, and, thus qualified, had made overtures to Mrs. Garnyer this lady and myself were the only witnesses. The marriage had nothing of a festive air; it seemed a grave sacrifice to the unknown god. Mrs. Garnyer was very much oppressed by the heat; in the vestibule, on leaving the church, she fainted. They had arranged to go for a week to the seaside, to a place they had known of old. When she had revived we placed her in the carriage, and they immediately started. I, of course, remained in charge of the empty house, vastly envying them their seaside breezes.

On the morning after the wedding, sitting alone in the darkened library, I heard a rapid tread in the hall. My first thought of course was of burglars my second of Eustace. In a moment he came striding into the room. His step, his glance, his whole outline foretold trouble. He was amazingly changed, and all for the better. He seemed taller, older, manlier. He was bronzed by travel and dressed with great splendour. The moustache he had mentioned, though but a slender thing as yet, gave him, to my eye, a formidable foreign look. He gave me no greeting.

“Where's my mother?” he cried.

My heart rose to my throat; his tone seemed to put us horribly in the wrong. “She's away——for a day", I said. “But you”——and I took his hand——"pray where have you dropped from?”

“From New York, from shipboard, from Southampton. Is this the way my mother receives me?”

“Why, she never dreamed you were coming.”

“She got no letter? I wrote from New York.”

“Your letter never came. She left town yesterday, for a week.”

He looked at me hard. “How comes it you're not with her?”

“I am not needed. She has——she has——” But I faltered.

“Say it, say it!” he cried; and he stamped his foot. “She has a companion.”

“Mr. Cope went with her", I said, in a still small voice. I was ashamed of my tremor, I was outraged by his imperious manner, but the thought of worse to come unnerved me.

“Mr. Cope—ah!” he answered, with an indefinable accent. He looked about the room with a kind of hungry desire to detect some invidious difference as a trace of Mr. Copes passage. Then flinging himself into a chair, “What infernal heat!” he went on. “What a hideous climate you've got here! Do bring me a glass of water.”

I brought him his glass, and stood before him as he quickly drank it. “Don't think you're not welcome", I ventured to say, “if I ask what has brought you home so suddenly.”

He gave me another hard look over the top of his glass. “A suspicion. Its none too soon. Tell me what is going on between my mother and Mr. Cope.”

“Eustace", I said, “before I answer you, let me remind you of the respect which under all circumstances you owe your mother.”

He sprang from his chair. “Respect! I'm right then. They mean to marry! Speak!” And as I hesitated, “You needn't speak", he cried. “I see it in your face. Thank God I'm here!”

His violence aroused me. “If you have a will to enforce in the matter", I said,” you are indeed none too soon. You're too late. Your mother is married.” I spoke passionately, but in a moment I repented of my words.

“married!” the poor boy shouted. “Married, you say!” He turned deadly pale and stood staring at me with his mouth wide open. Then, trembling in all his limbs, he dropped into a chair. For some moments he was silent, gazing at me with fierce stupefaction, overwhelmed by the treachery of fate. “Married!” he went on. “When, where, how? Without me——without notice——without shame! And you stood and watched it, as you stand and tell me now! I called you friend!” he cried, with the bitterest reproach. “But if my mother betrays me, what can I expect of you? Married!” he repeated. “Is the devil in it? I'll unmarry her! When——when——when?” And he seized me by the arm.

“Yesterday, Eustace. I entreat you to be calm.”

“Calm? Is it a case for calmness? She was calm enough——that she couldn't wait for her son!” He flung aside the hand I had laid upon his to soothe him, and began a furious march about the room. “What has come to her? Is she mad? Has she lost her head, her heart, her memory——all that made her mine? You're joking——come, its a horrible dream?” And he stopped before me, glaring through fiery tears. “Did she hope to keep it a secret? Did she hope to hide away her husband in a cupboard? Her husband! And I——I——I——what has she done with me? Where am I in this devils game? Standing here crying like a schoolboy for a cut finger——for the bitterest of disappointments! She has blighted my life——she has blasted my rights. She has insulted me——dishonoured me. Am I a man to treat in that fashion? Am I a man to be made light of? Brought up as a flower and trampled as a weed! Bound in cotton and steeped in vitriol! You needn't speak”——I had tried, for pity, to remonstrate. “You can say nothing but bald folly. There's nothing to be said but this——that I'm insulted. Do you understand?” He uttered the word with a concentrated agony of vanity. “I guessed it from the first. I knew it was coming. Mr. Cope——Mr. Cope——always Mr. Cope. It poisoned my journey——it poisoned my pleasure——it poisoned Italy. You don't know what that means. But what matter, so long as it has poisoned my home? I held my tongue——I swallowed my rage; I was patient, I was gentle, I forbore. And for this! I could have damned him with a word! At the seaside, hey? Enjoying the breezes——splashing in the surf——picking up shells. It's idyllic, it's ideal——great heavens, its fabulous, its monstrous! It's well she's not here. I don't answer for myself. Yes, madam, stare, stare, wring your hands! You see an angry man, an outraged man, but a man, mind you! He means to act as one.”

This sweeping torrent of unreason I had vainly endeavoured to arrest. He pushed me aside, strode out of the room, and went bounding up stairs to his own chamber, where I heard him close the door with a terrible bang and turn the key. My hope was that his passion would expend itself in this first explosion; I was glad to bear the brunt of it. But I deemed it my duty to communicate with his mother. I wrote her a hurried line: “Eustace is back——very ill. Come home”. This I intrusted to the coachman, with injunctions to carry it in person to the place of her sojourn. I believed that if she started immediately on the receipt of it, she might reach home late at night. Those were days of private conveyances. Meanwhile I did my best to pacify the poor young man. There was something terrible and portentous in his rage; he seemed absolutely rabid. This was the sweet compliance, the fond assent, on which his mother had counted; this was the surprise! I went repeatedly to his chamber door with soft speeches and urgent prayers and offers of luncheon, of wine, of vague womanly comfort. But there came no answer but shouts and imprecations, and finally a sullen silence. Late in the day I heard him from the window order the gardener to saddle his horse; and in a short time he came stamping down stairs, booted and spurred, pale, dishevelled, with bloodshot eyes. “Where are you going", I said, “in this awful heat?”

“To ride——ride——ride myself cool!” he cried. “There's nothing so hot as my rage!” And in a moment he was in the saddle and bounding out of the gate. I went up to his room. Its wild disorder bore vivid evidence of the tumult of his temper. A dozen things were strewn broken on the floor; old letters were lying crumpled and torn; I was sickened by the sight of a pearl necklace, snatched from his gaping valise, and evidently purchased as a present to his mother, ground into fragments on the carpet as if by his boot-heels. his fathers relics were standing in a row untouched on the mantel-shelf, save for a couple of pistols mounted with his initials in silver, which were tossed upon the table. I made a brave effort to thrust them into a drawer and turn the key, but to my eternal regret I was afraid to touch them. Evening descended and wore away; but neither Eustace nor his mother returned. I sat gloomily enough on the veranda, listening for wheels or hoofs. Toward midnight a carriage rattled over the gravel; my friend descended with her husband at the door. She fluttered into my arms with a kind of shrinking yet impetuous dread. “Where is he——how is he?” she cried.

I was spared the pain of answering, for at the same moment I heard Eustace's horse clatter into the stable-yard. He had rapidly dismounted and passed into the house by one of the side windows, which opened from the piazza into the drawing-room. There the lamps were lighted. I led in my companions. Eustace had crossed the threshold of the window; the lamplight fell upon him, relieving him against the darkness. His mother with a shriek flung herself toward him, but in an instant with a deeper cry she stopped short, pressing her hand to her heart. He had raised his hand, and, with a gesture which had all the spiritual force of a blow, he had cast her off. “Ah, my son, my son!” she cried with a piteous moan, and looking round at us in wild bewilderment.

“I'm not your son!” said the boy in a voice half stifled with passion. “I give you up! You're not my mother! Don't touch me! You've cheated me you've betrayed me——you've insulted me!” In this mad peal of imprecations, it was still the note of vanity which rang clearest.

I looked at Mr. Cope. He was deadly pale. He had seen the lads gesture; he was unable to hear his words. He sat down in the nearest chair and eyed him wonderingly. I hurried to his poor wife's relief. She seemed smitten with a sudden tremor, a deadly chill. She clasped her hands, but she could barely find her voice. “Eustace——my boy——my darling——my own——do you know what you say? Listen, listen, Eustace. Its all for you——that you should love me more. I've done my best. I seem to have been hasty, but hasty to do for you to do for you”. Her strength deserted her; she burst into tears. “He curses me——he denies me!” she cried. “He has killed me!”

“Cry, cry!” Eustace retorted; “cry as I've been crying! But don't be falser than you have been. That you couldn't even wait! And you prate of my happiness! Is my happiness in a broken home——in a disputed heart——in a bullying stepfather! You've chosen him big and strong! Cry your eyes out you're no mother of mine.”

“He's killing me——he's killing me", groaned his mother. “O Heaven! if I dared to speak, I should kill him!” She turned to her husband. “Go to him——go to him!” she cried. “He's ill, he's mad——he doesn't know what he says. Take his hand in yours——look at him, soothe him, heal him. Its the hot weather", she rambled on. “Let him feel your touch! Eustace, Eustace, be healed!”

Poor Mr. Cope had risen to his feet, passing his handkerchief over his forehead, on which the perspiration stood in great drops. He went slowly toward the young man, bending his eyes on him half in entreaty, half in command. Before him he stopped and frankly held out his hand. Eustace eyed him defiantly from head to foot——him and his proffered friendship, enforced as it was by a gaze of the most benignant authority. Then pushing his hand savagely down, “Hypocrite!” he roared close to his face “can you hear that?” and marched bravely out of the room. Mr. Cope shook his head with a world of tragic meaning, and for an instant exchanged with his wife a long look brimming with anguish. She fell upon his neck shaken with resounding sobs. But soon recovered herself, “Go to him", she urged, “follow him; say everything, spare nothing. No matter for me; I've got my blow.”

I helped her up to her room. Her strength had completely left her; she but half undressed and let me lay her on her bed. She was in a state of the intensest excitement. Every nerve in her body was thrilling and ringing. She kept murmuring to herself, with a kind of heart-breaking incoherency. “Nothing can hurt me now; I needn't be spared. Nothing can disgrace me or grace me. I've got my blow. Its my fault——all, all, all! I heaped up folly on folly and weakness on weakness. My heart's broken; it will never serve again. You have been right, my dear——I perverted him, I taught him to strike. Oh, what a blow! He's hard——he's hard. He's cruel. He has no heart. He's blind with vanity and egotism. But it matters little now; I shan't live to suffer. I've suffered enough. I'm dying, my friend, I'm dying”.

In this broken strain the poor lady poured out the bitterness of her grief. I used every art to soothe and console her, but I felt that the tenderest spot in her gentle heart had received an irreparable bruise. “I don't want to live", she murmured. “I'm disillusioned. It could never be patched up; we should never be the same. lie has shown the bottom of his soul. Its bad.”

In spite of my efforts to restore her to calmness, she became——not more excited, for her strength seemed to be ebbing and her voice was low——but more painfully and incoherently garrulous. Nevertheless, from her distressing murmur I gathered the glimmer of a meaning. She seemed to wish to make a kind of supreme confession. I sat on the cope of her bed, with her hand in mine. From time to time, above her loud whispers, I heard the sound of time two gentlemen's voices. Adjoining her chamber was a large dressing-room; beyond this was Eustace's apartment. The three rooms opened upon a long uncovered balcony.

Mr. Cope had followed the young man to his own chamber, and was addressing him in a low, steady voice. Eustace apparently was silent; but there was something sullen and portentous to my ear in this unnatural absence of response.

“What have you thought of me, my friend, all these years?” his mother asked. “Have I seemed to you like other women? I haven't been like others. I have tried to be so——and you see——you see! Let me tell you. It don't matter whether you despise me——I shan't know it. These are my last words; let them be frank.”

They were not, however, so frank as she intended. She seemed to lose herself in a dim wilderness of memories; her faculty wandered, faltered, stumbled. Not from her words——they were ambiguous——but from her silence and from the rebound of my own impassioned sympathy, as it were, I guessed the truth. It blossomed into being vivid and distinct; it exhaled a long illuminating glow upon the past——a lurid light upon the present. Strange it seemed now that my suspicions had been so late to bear fruit; but our imagination is always too timid. Now all things were clear! heaven knows that in this unpitying light I felt no contempt for the poor woman who lay before me, panting from her violated soul.

Poor victims of destiny! If I could only bring them to terms! For the moment, however, the unhappy mother and wife demanded all my attention. I left her and passed along the balcony, intending to summon her husband. The light in Eustace's room showed me the young man and his companion. They sat facing each other in momentary silence. Mr. Copes two hands were on his knees, his eyes were fixed on the carpet, his teeth were set——as if, baffled, irate, desperate, he were preparing to play his last card. Eustace was looking at him hard, with a terribly untender gaze. It made me sick. I was on the point of rushing in and adjuring Eustace by the truth. But suddenly Mr. Cope raised his eyes and exchanged with the boy a look with which he seemed to read his very soul. He waved his hand in the air as if to dismiss fond patience.

“If you were to see yourself as I see you", he said, “you would be vastly amazed; you would know your absurd appearance. Young as you are, you are rotten with arrogance and pride. What would you say if I were to tell you that, least of men, you have reason to be proud? Your stable boy there has more. There's a leak in your vanity; there's a blot on your escutcheon! You force me to strong measures. Let me tell you, in the teeth of your monstrous egotism, what you are. You're a.......”

I knew what was coming, but I hadn't the heart to hear it. The word, ringing out, overtook my ear as I hurried back to Mrs. Cope. It was followed by a loud, incoherent cry, the sound, prolonged for some moments, of a scuffle, and then the report of a pistol. This was lost in the noise of crashing glass. Mrs. Cope rose erect in bed and shrieked aloud, “he has killed him——and me.” I caught her in my arms; she breathed her last. I laid her gently on the bed and made my trembling way, by the balcony, to Eustace's room, The first glance reassured me. Neither of the men was visibly injured; the pistol lay smoking on the floor. Eustace had sunk into a chair with his head buried in his hands. I saw his face crimson through his fingers.

“Its not murder,” Mr. Cope said to me as I crossed the threshold, “but it has just missed being suicide. It has been fatal only to the looking-glass.” The mirror was shivered.

“It is murder", I answered, seizing Eustace by the arm and forcing him to rise. “You have killed your mother. This is your father!”

My friend paused and looked at me with a triumphant air, as if she was very proud of her effect. Of course I had foreseen it half an hour ago. “What a dismal tale", I said. “But its interesting. Of course Mrs. Cope recovered.”

She was silent an instant. “You're like me", she answered. “Your imagination is timid.”

“I confess", I rejoined, “I am rather at a loss how to dispose of our friend Eustace. I don't see how the two could very well shake hands——nor yet how they couldn't.”

“They did once and but once. They were for years, each in his way, lonely men. They were never reconciled. The trench had been dug too deep. Even the poor lady buried there didn't avail to fill it up. Yet the son was forgiven,——the father never!”


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