Early on the morrow Rowland received a visit from his new friend. Roderick wa_n a state of extreme exhilaration, tempered, however, by a certain amount o_ighteous wrath. He had had a domestic struggle, but he had remained master o_he situation. He had shaken the dust of Mr. Striker's office from his feet.
"I had it out last night with my mother," he said. "I dreaded the scene, fo_he takes things terribly hard. She does n't scold nor storm, and she does n'_rgue nor insist. She sits with her eyes full of tears that never fall, an_ooks at me, when I displease her, as if I were a perfect monster o_epravity. And the trouble is that I was born to displease her. She does n'_rust me; she never has and she never will. I don't know what I have done t_et her against me, but ever since I can remember I have been looked at wit_ears. The trouble is," he went on, giving a twist to his moustache, "I 'v_een too absurdly docile. I 've been sprawling all my days by the materna_ireside, and my dear mother has grown used to bullying me. I 've made mysel_heap! If I 'm not in my bed by eleven o'clock, the girl is sent out t_xplore with a lantern. When I think of it, I fairly despise my amiability. It
's rather a hard fate, to live like a saint and to pass for a sinner! I shoul_ike for six months to lead Mrs. Hudson the life some fellows lead thei_others!"
"Allow me to believe," said Rowland, "that you would like nothing of the sort.
If you have been a good boy, don't spoil it by pretending you don't like it.
You have been very happy, I suspect, in spite of your virtues, and there ar_orse fates in the world than being loved too well. I have not had th_leasure of seeing your mother, but I would lay you a wager that that is th_rouble. She is passionately fond of you, and her hopes, like all intens_opes, keep trembling into fears." Rowland, as he spoke, had an instinctiv_ision of how such a beautiful young fellow must be loved by his femal_elatives.
Roderick frowned, and with an impatient gesture, "I do her justice," he cried.
"May she never do me less!" Then after a moment's hesitation, "I 'll tell yo_he perfect truth," he went on. "I have to fill a double place. I have to b_y brother as well as myself. It 's a good deal to ask of a man, especiall_hen he has so little talent as I for being what he is not. When we were bot_oung together I was the curled darling. I had the silver mug and the bigges_iece of pudding, and I stayed in-doors to be kissed by the ladies while h_ade mud-pies in the garden and was never missed, of course. Really, he wa_orth fifty of me! When he was brought home from Vicksburg with a piece o_hell in his skull, my poor mother began to think she had n't loved hi_nough. I remember, as she hung round my neck sobbing, before his coffin, sh_old me that I must be to her everything that he would have been. I swore i_ears and in perfect good faith that I would, but naturally I have not kept m_romise. I have been utterly different. I have been idle, restless, egotistical, discontented. I have done no harm, I believe, but I have done n_ood. My brother, if he had lived, would have made fifty thousand dollars an_ut gas and water into the house. My mother, brooding night and day on he_ereavement, has come to fix her ideal in offices of that sort. Judged by tha_tandard I 'm nowhere!"
Rowland was at loss how to receive this account of his friend's domesti_ircumstances; it was plaintive, and yet the manner seemed to him over- trenchant. "You must lose no time in making a masterpiece," he answered; "the_ith the proceeds you can give her gas from golden burners."
"So I have told her; but she only half believes either in masterpiece or i_roceeds. She can see no good in my making statues; they seem to her a snar_f the enemy. She would fain see me all my life tethered to the law, like _rowsing goat to a stake. In that way I 'm in sight. 'It 's a more regula_ccupation!' that 's all I can get out of her. A more regular damnation! Is i_ fact that artists, in general, are such wicked men? I never had the pleasur_f knowing one, so I could n't confute her with an example. She had th_dvantage of me, because she formerly knew a portrait-painter at Richmond, wh_id her miniature in black lace mittens (you may see it on the parlor table), who used to drink raw brandy and beat his wife. I promised her that, whateve_ might do to my wife, I would never beat my mother, and that as for brandy, raw or diluted, I detested it. She sat silently crying for an hour, durin_hich I expended treasures of eloquence. It 's a good thing to have to recko_p one's intentions, and I assure you, as I pleaded my cause, I was mos_greeably impressed with the elevated character of my own. I kissed he_olemnly at last, and told her that I had said everything and that she mus_ake the best of it. This morning she has dried her eyes, but I warrant you i_s n't a cheerful house. I long to be out of it!"
"I 'm extremely sorry," said Rowland, "to have been the prime cause of so muc_uffering. I owe your mother some amends; will it be possible for me to se_er?"
"If you 'll see her, it will smooth matters vastly; though to tell the trut_he 'll need all her courage to face you, for she considers you an agent o_he foul fiend. She does n't see why you should have come here and set me b_he ears: you are made to ruin ingenuous youths and desolate doting mothers. _eave it to you, personally, to answer these charges. You see, what she can'_orgive—what she 'll not really ever forgive—is your taking me off to Rome.
Rome is an evil word, in my mother's vocabulary, to be said in a whisper, a_ou 'd say 'damnation.' Northampton is in the centre of the earth and Rome fa_way in outlying dusk, into which it can do no Christian any good t_enetrate. And there was I but yesterday a doomed habitue of that repositor_f every virtue, Mr. Striker's office!"
"And does Mr. Striker know of your decision?" asked Rowland.
"To a certainty! Mr. Striker, you must know, is not simply a good-nature_ttorney, who lets me dog's-ear his law-books. He's a particular friend an_eneral adviser. He looks after my mother's property and kindly consents t_egard me as part of it. Our opinions have always been painfully divergent, but I freely forgive him his zealous attempts to unscrew my head-piece and se_t on hind part before. He never understood me, and it was useless to try t_ake him. We speak a different language—we 're made of a different clay. I ha_ fit of rage yesterday when I smashed his bust, at the thought of all the ba_lood he had stirred up in me; it did me good, and it 's all over now. I don'_ate him any more; I 'm rather sorry for him. See how you 've improved me! _ust have seemed to him wilfully, wickedly stupid, and I 'm sure he onl_olerated me on account of his great regard for my mother. This morning _rasped the bull by the horns. I took an armful of law-books that have bee_athering the dust in my room for the last year and a half, and presente_yself at the office. 'Allow me to put these back in their places,' I said. '_hall never have need for them more—never more, never more, never more!' 'S_ou 've learned everything they contain?' asked Striker, leering over hi_pectacles. 'Better late than never.' 'I 've learned nothing that you ca_each me,' I cried. 'But I shall tax your patience no longer. I 'm going to b_ sculptor. I 'm going to Rome. I won't bid you good-by just yet; I shall se_ou again. But I bid good-by here, with rapture, to these four deteste_alls—to this living tomb! I did n't know till now how I hated it! M_ompliments to Mr. Spooner, and my thanks for all you have not made of me!'"
"I 'm glad to know you are to see Mr. Striker again," Rowland answered, correcting a primary inclination to smile. "You certainly owe him a respectfu_arewell, even if he has not understood you. I confess you rather puzzle me.
There is another person," he presently added, "whose opinion as to your ne_areer I should like to know. What does Miss Garland think?"
Hudson looked at him keenly, with a slight blush. Then, with a consciou_mile, "What makes you suppose she thinks anything?" he asked.
"Because, though I saw her but for a moment yesterday, she struck me as a ver_ntelligent person, and I am sure she has opinions."
The smile on Roderick's mobile face passed rapidly into a frown. "Oh, sh_hinks what I think!" he answered.
Before the two young men separated Rowland attempted to give as harmonious _hape as possible to his companion's scheme. "I have launched you, as I ma_ay," he said, "and I feel as if I ought to see you into port. I am older tha_ou and know the world better, and it seems well that we should voyage a whil_ogether. It 's on my conscience that I ought to take you to Rome, walk yo_hrough the Vatican, and then lock you up with a heap of clay. I sail on th_ifth of September; can you make your preparations to start with me?"
Roderick assented to all this with an air of candid confidence in his friend'_isdom that outshone the virtue of pledges. "I have no preparations to make,"
he said with a smile, raising his arms and letting them fall, as if t_ndicate his unencumbered condition. "What I am to take with me I carry here!"
and he tapped his forehead.
"Happy man!" murmured Rowland with a sigh, thinking of the light stowage, i_is own organism, in the region indicated by Roderick, and of the heavy one i_eposit at his banker's, of bags and boxes.
When his companion had left him he went in search of Cecilia. She was sittin_t work at a shady window, and welcomed him to a low chintz-covered chair. H_at some time, thoughtfully snipping tape with her scissors; he expecte_riticism and he was preparing a rejoinder. At last he told her of Roderick'_ecision and of his own influence in it. Cecilia, besides an extreme surprise, exhibited a certain fine displeasure at his not having asked her advice.
"What would you have said, if I had?" he demanded.
"I would have said in the first place, 'Oh for pity's sake don't carry off th_erson in all Northampton who amuses me most!' I would have said in the secon_lace, 'Nonsense! the boy is doing very well. Let well alone!'"
"That in the first five minutes. What would you have said later?"
"That for a man who is generally averse to meddling, you were suddenly rathe_fficious."
Rowland's countenance fell. He frowned in silence. Cecilia looked at hi_skance; gradually the spark of irritation faded from her eye.
"Excuse my sharpness," she resumed at last. "But I am literally in despair a_osing Roderick Hudson. His visits in the evening, for the past year, hav_ept me alive. They have given a silver tip to leaden days. I don't say he i_f a more useful metal than other people, but he is of a different one. O_ourse, however, that I shall miss him sadly is not a reason for his not goin_o seek his fortune. Men must work and women must weep!"
"Decidedly not!" said Rowland, with a good deal of emphasis. He had suspecte_rom the first hour of his stay that Cecilia had treated herself to a privat_ocial luxury; he had then discovered that she found it in Hudson's loungin_isits and boyish chatter, and he had felt himself wondering at last whether, judiciously viewed, her gain in the matter was not the young man's loss. I_as evident that Cecilia was not judicious, and that her good sense, habitually rigid under the demands of domestic economy, indulged itself with _ertain agreeable laxity on this particular point. She liked her young frien_ust as he was; she humored him, flattered him, laughed at him, caresse_im—did everything but advise him. It was a flirtation without the benefits o_ flirtation. She was too old to let him fall in love with her, which migh_ave done him good; and her inclination was to keep him young, so that th_onsense he talked might never transgress a certain line. It was quit_onceivable that poor Cecilia should relish a pastime; but if one ha_hilanthropically embraced the idea that something considerable might be mad_f Roderick, it was impossible not to see that her friendship was not wha_ight be called tonic. So Rowland reflected, in the glow of his new-bor_ympathy. There was a later time when he would have been grateful if Hudson'_usceptibility to the relaxing influence of lovely women might have bee_imited to such inexpensive tribute as he rendered the excellent Cecilia.
"I only desire to remind you," she pursued, "that you are likely to have you_ands full."
"I 've thought of that, and I rather like the idea; liking, as I do, the man.
I told you the other day, you know, that I longed to have something on m_ands. When it first occurred to me that I might start our young friend on th_ath of glory, I felt as if I had an unimpeachable inspiration. Then _emembered there were dangers and difficulties, and asked myself whether I ha_ right to step in between him and his obscurity. My sense of his reall_aving the divine flame answered the question. He is made to do the thing_hat humanity is the happier for! I can't do such things myself, but when _ee a young man of genius standing helpless and hopeless for want of capital, I feel—and it 's no affectation of humility, I assure you—as if it would giv_t least a reflected usefulness to my own life to offer him his opportunity."
"In the name of humanity, I suppose, I ought to thank you. But I want, firs_f all, to be happy myself. You guarantee us at any rate, I hope, th_asterpieces."
"A masterpiece a year," said Rowland smiling, "for the next quarter of _entury."
"It seems to me that we have a right to ask more: to demand that you guarante_s not only the development of the artist, but the security of the man."
Rowland became grave again. "His security?"
"His moral, his sentimental security. Here, you see, it 's perfect. We are al_nder a tacit compact to preserve it. Perhaps you believe in the necessar_urbulence of genius, and you intend to enjoin upon your protege th_mportance of cultivating his passions."
"On the contrary, I believe that a man of genius owes as much deference to hi_assions as any other man, but not a particle more, and I confess I have _trong conviction that the artist is better for leading a quiet life. That i_hat I shall preach to my protege, as you call him, by example as well as b_recept. You evidently believe," he added in a moment, "that he will lead me _ance."
"Nay, I prophesy nothing. I only think that circumstances, with our young man, have a great influence; as is proved by the fact that although he has bee_uming and fretting here for the last five years, he has nevertheless manage_o make the best of it, and found it easy, on the whole, to vegetate.
Transplanted to Rome, I fancy he 'll put forth a denser leafage. I should lik_astly to see the change. You must write me about it, from stage to stage. _ope with all my heart that the fruit will be proportionate to the foliage.
Don't think me a bird of ill omen; only remember that you will be held to _trict account."
"A man should make the most of himself, and be helped if he needs help,"
Rowland answered, after a long pause. "Of course when a body begins to expand, there comes in the possibility of bursting; but I nevertheless approve of _ertain tension of one's being. It 's what a man is meant for. And then _elieve in the essential salubrity of genius—true genius."
"Very good," said Cecilia, with an air of resignation which made Rowland, fo_he moment, seem to himself culpably eager. "We 'll drink then to-day a_inner to the health of our friend."
Having it much at heart to convince Mrs. Hudson of the purity of hi_ntentions, Rowland waited upon her that evening. He was ushered into a larg_arlor, which, by the light of a couple of candles, he perceived to be ver_eagrely furnished and very tenderly and sparingly used. The windows were ope_o the air of the summer night, and a circle of three persons was temporaril_wed into silence by his appearance. One of these was Mrs. Hudson, who wa_itting at one of the windows, empty-handed save for the pocket-handkerchie_n her lap, which was held with an air of familiarity with its sadder uses.
Near her, on the sofa, half sitting, half lounging, in the attitude of _isitor outstaying ceremony, with one long leg flung over the other and _arge foot in a clumsy boot swinging to and fro continually, was a lean, sandy-haired gentleman whom Rowland recognized as the original of the portrai_f Mr. Barnaby Striker. At the table, near the candles, busy with _ubstantial piece of needle-work, sat the young girl of whom he had had _oment's quickened glimpse in Roderick's studio, and whom he had learned to b_iss Garland, his companion's kinswoman. This young lady's limpid, penetratin_aze was the most effective greeting he received. Mrs. Hudson rose with _oft, vague sound of distress, and stood looking at him shrinkingly an_averingly, as if she were sorely tempted to retreat through the open window.
Mr. Striker swung his long leg a trifle defiantly. No one, evidently, was use_o offering hollow welcomes or telling polite fibs. Rowland introduce_imself; he had come, he might say, upon business.
"Yes," said Mrs. Hudson tremulously; "I know—my son has told me. I suppose i_s better I should see you. Perhaps you will take a seat."
With this invitation Rowland prepared to comply, and, turning, grasped th_irst chair that offered itself.
"Not that one," said a full, grave voice; whereupon he perceived that _uantity of sewing-silk had been suspended and entangled over the back, preparatory to being wound on reels. He felt the least bit irritated at th_urtness of the warning, coming as it did from a young woman whose countenanc_e had mentally pronounced interesting, and with regard to whom he wa_onscious of the germ of the inevitable desire to produce a responsiv_nterest. And then he thought it would break the ice to say somethin_layfully urbane.
"Oh, you should let me take the chair," he answered, "and have the pleasure o_olding the skeins myself!"
For all reply to this sally he received a stare of undisguised amazement fro_iss Garland, who then looked across at Mrs. Hudson with a glance whic_lainly said: "You see he 's quite the insidious personage we feared." Th_lder lady, however, sat with her eyes fixed on the ground and her two hand_ightly clasped. But touching her Rowland felt much more compassion tha_esentment; her attitude was not coldness, it was a kind of dread, almost _error. She was a small, eager woman, with a pale, troubled face, which adde_o her apparent age. After looking at her for some minutes Rowland saw tha_he was still young, and that she must have been a very girlish bride. She ha_een a pretty one, too, though she probably had looked terribly frightened a_he altar. She was very delicately made, and Roderick had come honestly by hi_hysical slimness and elegance. She wore no cap, and her flaxen hair, whic_as of extraordinary fineness, was smoothed and confined with Puritani_recision. She was excessively shy, and evidently very humble-minded; it wa_ingular to see a woman to whom the experience of life had conveyed so littl_eassurance as to her own resources or the chances of things turning out well.
Rowland began immediately to like her, and to feel impatient to persuade he_hat there was no harm in him, and that, twenty to one, her son would make he_ well-pleased woman yet. He foresaw that she would be easy to persuade, an_hat a benevolent conversational tone would probably make her pass, fluttering, from distrust into an oppressive extreme of confidence. But he ha_n indefinable sense that the person who was testing that strong youn_yesight of hers in the dim candle-light was less readily beguiled from he_ysterious feminine preconceptions. Miss Garland, according to Cecilia'_udgment, as Rowland remembered, had not a countenance to inspire a sculptor; but it seemed to Rowland that her countenance might fairly inspire a man wh_as far from being a sculptor. She was not pretty, as the eye of habit judge_rettiness, but when you made the observation you somehow failed to set i_own against her, for you had already passed from measuring contours t_racing meanings. In Mary Garland's face there were many possible ones, an_hey gave you the more to think about that it was not—like Roderick Hudson's, for instance—a quick and mobile face, over which expression flickered like _andle in a wind. They followed each other slowly, distinctly, gravely, sincerely, and you might almost have fancied that, as they came and went, the_ave her a sort of pain. She was tall and slender, and had an air of maidenl_trength and decision. She had a broad forehead and dark eyebrows, a trifl_hicker than those of classic beauties; her gray eye was clear but no_rilliant, and her features were perfectly irregular. Her mouth was large, fortunately for the principal grace of her physiognomy was her smile, whic_isplayed itself with magnificent amplitude. Rowland, indeed, had not yet see_er smile, but something assured him that her rigid gravity had a radian_ounterpart. She wore a scanty white dress, and had a nameless rustic ai_hich would have led one to speak of her less as a young lady than as a youn_oman. She was evidently a girl of a great personal force, but she lacke_liancy. She was hemming a kitchen towel with the aid of a large stee_himble. She bent her serious eyes at last on her work again, and let Rowlan_xplain himself.
"I have become suddenly so very intimate with your son," he said at last, addressing himself to Mrs. Hudson, "that it seems just I should make you_cquaintance."
"Very just," murmured the poor lady, and after a moment's hesitation was o_he point of adding something more; but Mr. Striker here interposed, after _refatory clearance of the throat.
"I should like to take the liberty," he said, "of addressing you a simpl_uestion. For how long a period of time have you been acquainted with ou_oung friend?" He continued to kick the air, but his head was thrown back an_is eyes fixed on the opposite wall, as if in aversion to the spectacle o_owland's inevitable confusion.
"A very short time, I confess. Hardly three days."
"And yet you call yourself intimate, eh? I have been seeing Mr. Roderick dail_hese three years, and yet it was only this morning that I felt as if I had a_ast the right to say that I knew him. We had a few moments' conversation i_y office which supplied the missing links in the evidence. So that now I d_enture to say I 'm acquainted with Mr. Roderick! But wait three years, sir, like me!" and Mr. Striker laughed, with a closed mouth and a noiseless shak_f all his long person.
Mrs. Hudson smiled confusedly, at hazard; Miss Garland kept her eyes on he_titches. But it seemed to Rowland that the latter colored a little. "Oh, i_hree years, of course," he said, "we shall know each other better. Befor_any years are over, madam," he pursued, "I expect the world to know him. _xpect him to be a great man!"
Mrs. Hudson looked at first as if this could be but an insidious device fo_ncreasing her distress by the assistance of irony. Then reassured, little b_ittle, by Rowland's benevolent visage, she gave him an appealing glance and _imorous "Really?"
But before Rowland could respond, Mr. Striker again intervened. "Do I full_pprehend your expression?" he asked. "Our young friend is to become a grea_an?"
"A great artist, I hope," said Rowland.
"This is a new and interesting view," said Mr. Striker, with an assumption o_udicial calmness. "We have had hopes for Mr. Roderick, but I confess, if _ave rightly understood them, they stopped short of greatness. We should n'_ave taken the responsibility of claiming it for him. What do you say, ladies?
We all feel about him here—his mother, Miss Garland, and myself—as if hi_erits were rather in the line of the"—and Mr. Striker waved his hand with _eries of fantastic flourishes in the air—"of the light ornamental!" Mr.
Striker bore his recalcitrant pupil a grudge, but he was evidently trying bot_o be fair and to respect the susceptibilities of his companions. But he wa_nversed in the mysterious processes of feminine emotion. Ten minutes before, there had been a general harmony of sombre views; but on hearing Roderick'_imitations thus distinctly formulated to a stranger, the two ladies mutel_rotested. Mrs. Hudson uttered a short, faint sigh, and Miss Garland raise_er eyes toward their advocate and visited him with a short, cold glance.
"I 'm afraid, Mrs. Hudson," Rowland pursued, evading the discussion o_oderick's possible greatness, "that you don't at all thank me for stirring u_our son's ambition on a line which leads him so far from home. I suspect _ave made you my enemy."
Mrs. Hudson covered her mouth with her finger-tips and looked painfull_erplexed between the desire to confess the truth and the fear of bein_mpolite. "My cousin is no one's enemy," Miss Garland hereupon declared, gently, but with that same fine deliberateness with which she had made Rowlan_elax his grasp of the chair.
"Does she leave that to you?" Rowland ventured to ask, with a smile.
"We are inspired with none but Christian sentiments," said Mr. Striker; "Mis_arland perhaps most of all. Miss Garland," and Mr. Striker waved his han_gain as if to perform an introduction which had been regrettably omitted, "i_he daughter of a minister, the granddaughter of a minister, the sister of _inister." Rowland bowed deferentially, and the young girl went on with he_ewing, with nothing, apparently, either of embarrassment or elation at th_romulgation of these facts. Mr. Striker continued: "Mrs. Hudson, I see, i_oo deeply agitated to converse with you freely. She will allow me to addres_ou a few questions. Would you kindly inform her, as exactly as possible, jus_hat you propose to do with her son?"
The poor lady fixed her eyes appealingly on Rowland's face and seemed to sa_hat Mr. Striker had spoken her desire, though she herself would hav_xpressed it less defiantly. But Rowland saw in Mr. Striker's many-wrinkle_ight blue eye, shrewd at once and good-natured, that he had no intention o_efiance, and that he was simply pompous and conceited and sarcasticall_ompassionate of any view of things in which Roderick Hudson was regarded in _erious light.
"Do, my dear madam?" demanded Rowland. "I don't propose to do anything. H_ust do for himself. I simply offer him the chance. He 's to study, t_ork—hard, I hope."
"Not too hard, please," murmured Mrs. Hudson, pleadingly, wheeling about fro_ecent visions of dangerous leisure. "He 's not very strong, and I 'm afrai_he climate of Europe is very relaxing."
"Ah, study?" repeated Mr. Striker. "To what line of study is he to direct hi_ttention?" Then suddenly, with an impulse of disinterested curiosity on hi_wn account, "How do you study sculpture, anyhow?"
"By looking at models and imitating them."
"At models, eh? To what kind of models do you refer?"
"To the antique, in the first place."
"Ah, the antique," repeated Mr. Striker, with a jocose intonation. "Do yo_ear, madam? Roderick is going off to Europe to learn to imitate the antique."
"I suppose it 's all right," said Mrs. Hudson, twisting herself in a sort o_elicate anguish.
"An antique, as I understand it," the lawyer continued, "is an image of _agan deity, with considerable dirt sticking to it, and no arms, no nose, an_o clothing. A precious model, certainly!"
"That 's a very good description of many," said Rowland, with a laugh.
"Mercy! Truly?" asked Mrs. Hudson, borrowing courage from his urbanity.
"But a sculptor's studies, you intimate, are not confined to the antique," Mr.
Striker resumed. "After he has been looking three or four years at the object_ describe"—
"He studies the living model," said Rowland.
"Does it take three or four years?" asked Mrs. Hudson, imploringly.
"That depends upon the artist's aptitude. After twenty years a real artist i_till studying."
"Oh, my poor boy!" moaned Mrs. Hudson, finding the prospect, under ever_ight, still terrible.
"Now this study of the living model," Mr. Striker pursued. "Inform Mrs. Hudso_bout that."
"Oh dear, no!" cried Mrs. Hudson, shrinkingly.
"That too," said Rowland, "is one of the reasons for studying in Rome. It 's _andsome race, you know, and you find very well-made people."
"I suppose they 're no better made than a good tough Yankee," objected Mr.
Striker, transposing his interminable legs. "The same God made us."
"Surely," sighed Mrs. Hudson, but with a questioning glance at her visito_hich showed that she had already begun to concede much weight to his opinion.
Rowland hastened to express his assent to Mr. Striker's proposition.
Miss Garland looked up, and, after a moment's hesitation: "Are the Roman wome_ery beautiful?" she asked.
Rowland too, in answering, hesitated; he was looking straight at the youn_irl. "On the whole, I prefer ours," he said.
She had dropped her work in her lap; her hands were crossed upon it, her hea_hrown a little back. She had evidently expected a more impersonal answer, an_he was dissatisfied. For an instant she seemed inclined to make a rejoinder, but she slowly picked up her work in silence and drew her stitches again.
Rowland had for the second time the feeling that she judged him to be a perso_f a disagreeably sophisticated tone. He noticed too that the kitchen towe_he was hemming was terribly coarse. And yet his answer had a resonant inwar_cho, and he repeated to himself, "Yes, on the whole, I prefer ours."
"Well, these models," began Mr. Striker. "You put them into an attitude, _uppose."
"An attitude, exactly."
"And then you sit down and look at them."
"You must not sit too long. You must go at your clay and try to build u_omething that looks like them."
"Well, there you are with your model in an attitude on one side, yourself, i_n attitude too, I suppose, on the other, and your pile of clay in the middle, building up, as you say. So you pass the morning. After that I hope you go ou_nd take a walk, and rest from your exertions."
"Unquestionably. But to a sculptor who loves his work there is no time lost.
Everything he looks at teaches or suggests something."
"That 's a tempting doctrine to young men with a taste for sitting by the hou_ith the page unturned, watching the flies buzz, or the frost melt on th_indow-pane. Our young friend, in this way, must have laid up stores o_nformation which I never suspected!"
"Very likely," said Rowland, with an unresentful smile, "he will prove som_ay the completer artist for some of those lazy reveries."
This theory was apparently very grateful to Mrs. Hudson, who had never had th_ase put for her son with such ingenious hopefulness, and found hersel_isrelishing the singular situation of seeming to side against her own fles_nd blood with a lawyer whose conversational tone betrayed the habit of cross- questioning.
"My son, then," she ventured to ask, "my son has great—what you would cal_reat powers?"
"To my sense, very great powers."
Poor Mrs. Hudson actually smiled, broadly, gleefully, and glanced at Mis_arland, as if to invite her to do likewise. But the young girl's fac_emained serious, like the eastern sky when the opposite sunset is too feebl_o make it glow. "Do you really know?" she asked, looking at Rowland.
"One cannot know in such a matter save after proof, and proof takes time. Bu_ne can believe."
"And you believe?"
But even then Miss Garland vouchsafed no smile. Her face became graver tha_ver.
"Well, well," said Mrs. Hudson, "we must hope that it is all for the best."
Mr. Striker eyed his old friend for a moment with a look of some displeasure; he saw that this was but a cunning feminine imitation of resignation, an_hat, through some untraceable process of transition, she was now taking mor_omfort in the opinions of this insinuating stranger than in his own toug_ogmas. He rose to his feet, without pulling down his waistcoat, but with _rinkled grin at the inconsistency of women. "Well, sir, Mr. Roderick's power_re nothing to me," he said, "nor no use he makes of them. Good or bad, he '_o son of mine. But, in a friendly way, I 'm glad to hear so fine an accoun_f him. I 'm glad, madam, you 're so satisfied with the prospect. Affection, sir, you see, must have its guarantees!" He paused a moment, stroking hi_eard, with his head inclined and one eye half-closed, looking at Rowland. Th_ook was grotesque, but it was significant, and it puzzled Rowland more tha_t amused him. "I suppose you 're a very brilliant young man," he went on,
"very enlightened, very cultivated, quite up to the mark in the fine arts an_ll that sort of thing. I 'm a plain, practical old boy, content to follow a_onorable profession in a free country. I did n't go off to the Old World t_earn my business; no one took me by the hand; I had to grease my wheel_yself, and, such as I am, I 'm a self-made man, every inch of me! Well, i_ur young friend is booked for fame and fortune, I don't suppose his going t_ome will stop him. But, mind you, it won't help him such a long way, either.
If you have undertaken to put him through, there 's a thing or two you '_etter remember. The crop we gather depends upon the seed we sow. He may b_he biggest genius of the age: his potatoes won't come up without his hoein_hem. If he takes things so almighty easy as—well, as one or two young fellow_f genius I 've had under my eye—his produce will never gain the prize. Tak_he word for it of a man who has made his way inch by inch, and does n'_elieve that we 'll wake up to find our work done because we 've lain al_ight a-dreaming of it; anything worth doing is devilish hard to do! If you_oung protajay finds things easy and has a good time and says he likes th_ife, it 's a sign that—as I may say—you had better step round to the offic_nd look at the books. That 's all I desire to remark. No offense intended. _ope you 'll have a first-rate time."
Rowland could honestly reply that this seemed pregnant sense, and he offere_r. Striker a friendly hand-shake as the latter withdrew. But Mr. Striker'_ather grim view of matters cast a momentary shadow on his companions, an_rs. Hudson seemed to feel that it necessitated between them some littl_riendly agreement not to be overawed.
Rowland sat for some time longer, partly because he wished to please the tw_omen and partly because he was strangely pleased himself. There was somethin_ouching in their unworldly fears and diffident hopes, something almos_errible in the way poor little Mrs. Hudson seemed to flutter and quiver wit_ntense maternal passion. She put forth one timid conversational venture afte_nother, and asked Rowland a number of questions about himself, his age, hi_amily, his occupations, his tastes, his religious opinions. Rowland had a_dd feeling at last that she had begun to consider him very exemplary, an_hat she might make, later, some perturbing discovery. He tried, therefore, t_nvent something that would prepare her to find him fallible. But he coul_hink of nothing. It only seemed to him that Miss Garland secretly mistruste_im, and that he must leave her to render him the service, after he had gone, of making him the object of a little firm derogation. Mrs. Hudson talked wit_ow-voiced eagerness about her son.
"He 's very lovable, sir, I assure you. When you come to know him you 'll fin_im very lovable. He 's a little spoiled, of course; he has always done wit_e as he pleased; but he 's a good boy, I 'm sure he 's a good boy. And ever_ne thinks him very attractive: I 'm sure he 'd be noticed, anywhere. Don'_ou think he 's very handsome, sir? He features his poor father. I ha_nother—perhaps you 've been told. He was killed." And the poor little lad_ravely smiled, for fear of doing worse. "He was a very fine boy, but ver_ifferent from Roderick. Roderick is a little strange; he has never been a_asy boy. Sometimes I feel like the goose—was n't it a goose, dear?" an_tartled by the audacity of her comparison she appealed to Miss Garland—"th_oose, or the hen, who hatched a swan's egg. I have never been able to giv_im what he needs. I have always thought that in more—in more brillian_ircumstances he might find his place and be happy. But at the same time I wa_fraid of the world for him; it was so large and dangerous and dreadful. N_oubt I know very little about it. I never suspected, I confess, that i_ontained persons of such liberality as yours."
Rowland replied that, evidently, she had done the world but scanty justice.
"No," objected Miss Garland, after a pause, "it is like something in a fair_ale."
"Your coming here all unknown, so rich and so polite, and carrying off m_ousin in a golden cloud."
If this was badinage Miss Garland had the best of it, for Rowland almost fel_-musing silently over the question whether there was a possibility of iron_n that transparent gaze. Before he withdrew, Mrs. Hudson made him tell he_gain that Roderick's powers were extraordinary. He had inspired her with _linging, caressing faith in his wisdom. "He will really do great things," sh_sked, "the very greatest?"
"I see no reason in his talent itself why he should not."
"Well, we 'll think of that as we sit here alone," she rejoined. "Mary and _ill sit here and talk about it. So I give him up," she went on, as he wa_oing. "I 'm sure you 'll be the best of friends to him, but if you shoul_ver forget him, or grow tired of him, or lose your interest in him, and h_hould come to any harm or any trouble, please, sir, remember"—And she paused, with a tremulous voice.
"Remember, my dear madam?"
"That he is all I have—that he is everything—and that it would be ver_errible."
"In so far as I can help him, he shall succeed," was all Rowland could say. H_urned to Miss Garland, to bid her good night, and she rose and put out he_and. She was very straightforward, but he could see that if she was to_odest to be bold, she was much too simple to be shy. "Have you no charge t_ay upon me?" he asked—to ask her something.
She looked at him a moment and then, although she was not shy, she blushed.
"Make him do his best," she said.
Rowland noted the soft intensity with which the words were uttered. "Do yo_ake a great interest in him?" he demanded.
"Then, if he will not do his best for you, he will not do it for me." Sh_urned away with another blush, and Rowland took his leave.
He walked homeward, thinking of many things. The great Northampton elm_nterarched far above in the darkness, but the moon had risen and throug_cattered apertures was hanging the dusky vault with silver lamps. Ther_eemed to Rowland something intensely serious in the scene in which he ha_ust taken part. He had laughed and talked and braved it out in self-defense; but when he reflected that he was really meddling with the simple stillness o_his little New England home, and that he had ventured to disturb so muc_iving security in the interest of a far-away, fantastic hypothesis, h_aused, amazed at his temerity. It was true, as Cecilia had said, that for a_nofficious man it was a singular position. There stirred in his mind an od_eeling of annoyance with Roderick for having thus peremptorily enlisted hi_ympathies. As he looked up and down the long vista, and saw the clear whit_ouses glancing here and there in the broken moonshine, he could almost hav_elieved that the happiest lot for any man was to make the most of life i_ome such tranquil spot as that. Here were kindness, comfort, safety, th_arning voice of duty, the perfect hush of temptation. And as Rowland looke_long the arch of silvered shadow and out into the lucid air of the America_ight, which seemed so doubly vast, somehow, and strange and nocturnal, h_elt like declaring that here was beauty too—beauty sufficient for an artis_ot to starve upon it. As he stood, lost in the darkness, he presently heard _apid tread on the other side of the road, accompanied by a loud, jubilan_histle, and in a moment a figure emerged into an open gap of moonshine. H_ad no difficulty in recognizing Hudson, who was presumably returning from _isit to Cecilia. Roderick stopped suddenly and stared up at the moon, wit_is face vividly illumined. He broke out into a snatch of song:—
"The splendor falls on castle walls And snowy summits old in story!"
And with a great, musical roll of his voice he went swinging off into th_arkness again, as if his thoughts had lent him wings. He was dreaming of th_nspiration of foreign lands,—of castled crags and historic landscapes. What _ity, after all, thought Rowland, as he went his own way, that he should n'_ave a taste of it!
It had been a very just remark of Cecilia's that Roderick would change with _hange in his circumstances. Rowland had telegraphed to New York for anothe_erth on his steamer, and from the hour the answer came Hudson's spirits ros_o incalculable heights. He was radiant with good-humor, and his kindl_ollity seemed the pledge of a brilliant future. He had forgiven his ol_nemies and forgotten his old grievances, and seemed every way reconciled to _orld in which he was going to count as an active force. He was inexhaustibl_oquacious and fantastic, and as Cecilia said, he had suddenly become so goo_hat it was only to be feared he was going to start not for Europe but fo_eaven. He took long walks with Rowland, who felt more and more th_ascination of what he would have called his giftedness. Rowland returne_everal times to Mrs. Hudson's, and found the two ladies doing their best t_e happy in their companion's happiness. Miss Garland, he thought, wa_ucceeding better than her demeanor on his first visit had promised. He trie_o have some especial talk with her, but her extreme reserve forced him t_ontent himself with such response to his rather urgent overtures as might b_xtracted from a keenly attentive smile. It must be confessed, however, tha_f the response was vague, the satisfaction was great, and that Rowland, afte_is second visit, kept seeing a lurking reflection of this smile in the mos_nexpected places. It seemed strange that she should please him so well at s_lender a cost, but please him she did, prodigiously, and his pleasure had _uality altogether new to him. It made him restless, and a trifle melancholy; he walked about absently, wondering and wishing. He wondered, among othe_hings, why fate should have condemned him to make the acquaintance of a gir_hom he would make a sacrifice to know better, just as he was leaving th_ountry for years. It seemed to him that he was turning his back on a chanc_f happiness—happiness of a sort of which the slenderest germ should b_ultivated. He asked himself whether, feeling as he did, if he had onl_imself to please, he would give up his journey and—wait. He had Roderick t_lease now, for whom disappointment would be cruel; but he said to himsel_hat certainly, if there were no Roderick in the case, the ship should sai_ithout him. He asked Hudson several questions about his cousin, but Roderick, confidential on most points, seemed to have reasons of his own for bein_eticent on this one. His measured answers quickened Rowland's curiosity, fo_iss Garland, with her own irritating half-suggestions, had only to be _ubject of guarded allusion in others to become intolerably interesting. H_earned from Roderick that she was the daughter of a country minister, a far- away cousin of his mother, settled in another part of the State; that she wa_ne of a half-a-dozen daughters, that the family was very poor, and that sh_ad come a couple of months before to pay his mother a long visit. "It is t_e a very long one now," he said, "for it is settled that she is to remai_hile I am away."
The fermentation of contentment in Roderick's soul reached its climax a fe_ays before the young men were to make their farewells. He had been sittin_ith his friends on Cecilia's veranda, but for half an hour past he had sai_othing. Lounging back against a vine-wreathed column and gazing idly at th_tars, he kept caroling softly to himself with that indifference to ceremon_or which he always found allowance, and which in him had a sort of pleadin_race. At last, springing up: "I want to strike out, hard!" he exclaimed. "_ant to do something violent, to let off steam!"
"I 'll tell you what to do, this lovely weather," said Cecilia. "Give _icnic. It can be as violent as you please, and it will have the merit o_eading off our emotion into a safe channel, as well as yours."
Roderick laughed uproariously at Cecilia's very practical remedy for hi_entimental need, but a couple of days later, nevertheless, the picnic wa_iven. It was to be a family party, but Roderick, in his magnanimou_eniality, insisted on inviting Mr. Striker, a decision which Rowland mentall_pplauded. "And we 'll have Mrs. Striker, too," he said, "if she 'll come, t_eep my mother in countenance; and at any rate we 'll have Miss Striker—th_ivine Petronilla!" The young lady thus denominated formed, with Mrs. Hudson, Miss Garland, and Cecilia, the feminine half of the company. Mr. Strike_resented himself, sacrificing a morning's work, with a magnanimity greate_ven than Roderick's, and foreign support was further secured in the person o_r. Whitefoot, the young Orthodox minister. Roderick had chosen the feasting- place; he knew it well and had passed many a summer afternoon there, lying a_is length on the grass and gazing at the blue undulations of the horizon. I_as a meadow on the edge of a wood, with mossy rocks protruding through th_rass and a little lake on the other side. It was a cloudless August day; Rowland always remembered it, and the scene, and everything that was said an_one, with extraordinary distinctness. Roderick surpassed himself in friendl_ollity, and at one moment, when exhilaration was at the highest, was seen i_r. Striker's high white hat, drinking champagne from a broken tea-cup to Mr.
Striker's health. Miss Striker had her father's pale blue eye; she was dresse_s if she were going to sit for her photograph, and remained for a long tim_ith Roderick on a little promontory overhanging the lake. Mrs. Hudson sat al_ay with a little meek, apprehensive smile. She was afraid of an "accident,"
though unless Miss Striker (who indeed was a little of a romp) should pus_oderick into the lake, it was hard to see what accident could occur. Mrs.
Hudson was as neat and crisp and uncrumpled at the end of the festival as a_he beginning. Mr. Whitefoot, who but a twelvemonth later became a convert t_piscopacy and was already cultivating a certain conversational sonority, devoted himself to Cecilia. He had a little book in his pocket, out of whic_e read to her at intervals, lying stretched at her feet, and it was a lastin_oke with Cecilia, afterwards, that she would never tell what Mr. Whitefoot'_ittle book had been. Rowland had placed himself near Miss Garland, while th_easting went forward on the grass. She wore a so-called gypsy hat—a littl_traw hat, tied down over her ears, so as to cast her eyes into shadow, by _ibbon passing outside of it. When the company dispersed, after lunch, h_roposed to her to take a stroll in the wood. She hesitated a moment an_ooked toward Mrs. Hudson, as if for permission to leave her. But Mrs. Hudso_as listening to Mr. Striker, who sat gossiping to her with relaxe_agniloquence, his waistcoat unbuttoned and his hat on his nose.
"You can give your cousin your society at any time," said Rowland. "But me, perhaps, you 'll never see again."
"Why then should we wish to be friends, if nothing is to come of it?" sh_sked, with homely logic. But by this time she had consented, and they wer_reading the fallen pine-needles.
"Oh, one must take all one can get," said Rowland. "If we can be friends fo_alf an hour, it 's so much gained."
"Do you expect never to come back to Northampton again?"
"'Never' is a good deal to say. But I go to Europe for a long stay."
"Do you prefer it so much to your own country?"
"I will not say that. But I have the misfortune to be a rather idle man, an_n Europe the burden of idleness is less heavy than here."
She was silent for a few minutes; then at last, "In that, then, we are bette_han Europe," she said. To a certain point Rowland agreed with her, but h_emurred, to make her say more.
"Would n't it be better," she asked, "to work to get reconciled to America, than to go to Europe to get reconciled to idleness?"
"Doubtless; but you know work is hard to find."
"I come from a little place where every one has plenty," said Miss Garland.
"We all work; every one I know works. And really," she added presently, "_ook at you with curiosity; you are the first unoccupied man I ever saw."
"Don't look at me too hard," said Rowland, smiling. "I shall sink into th_arth. What is the name of your little place?"
"West Nazareth," said Miss Garland, with her usual sobriety. "It is not s_ery little, though it 's smaller than Northampton."
"I wonder whether I could find any work at West Nazareth," Rowland said.
"You would not like it," Miss Garland declared reflectively. "Though there ar_ar finer woods there than this. We have miles and miles of woods."
"I might chop down trees," said Rowland. "That is, if you allow it."
"Allow it? Why, where should we get our firewood?" Then, noticing that he ha_poken jestingly, she glanced at him askance, though with no visibl_iminution of her gravity. "Don't you know how to do anything? Have you n_rofession?"
Rowland shook his head. "Absolutely none."
"What do you do all day?"
"Nothing worth relating. That 's why I am going to Europe. There, at least, i_ do nothing, I shall see a great deal; and if I 'm not a producer, I shall a_ny rate be an observer."
"Can't we observe everywhere?"
"Certainly; and I really think that in that way I make the most of m_pportunities. Though I confess," he continued, "that I often remember ther_re things to be seen here to which I probably have n't done justice. I shoul_ike, for instance, to see West Nazareth."
She looked round at him, open-eyed; not, apparently, that she exactly suppose_e was jesting, for the expression of such a desire was not necessaril_acetious; but as if he must have spoken with an ulterior motive. In fact, h_ad spoken from the simplest of motives. The girl beside him pleased hi_nspeakably, and, suspecting that her charm was essentially her own and no_eflected from social circumstance, he wished to give himself the satisfactio_f contrasting her with the meagre influences of her education. Miss Garland'_econd movement was to take him at his word. "Since you are free to do as yo_lease, why don't you go there?"
"I am not free to do as I please now. I have offered your cousin to bear hi_ompany to Europe, he has accepted with enthusiasm, and I cannot retract."
"Are you going to Europe simply for his sake?"
Rowland hesitated a moment. "I think I may almost say so."
Miss Garland walked along in silence. "Do you mean to do a great deal fo_im?" she asked at last.
"What I can. But my power of helping him is very small beside his power o_elping himself."
For a moment she was silent again. "You are very generous," she said, almos_olemnly.
"No, I am simply very shrewd. Roderick will repay me. It 's an investment. A_irst, I think," he added shortly afterwards, "you would not have paid me tha_ompliment. You distrusted me."
She made no attempt to deny it. "I did n't see why you should wish to mak_oderick discontented. I thought you were rather frivolous."
"You did me injustice. I don't think I 'm that."
"It was because you are unlike other men—those, at least, whom I have seen."
"In what way?"
"Why, as you describe yourself. You have no duties, no profession, no home.
You live for your pleasure."
"That 's all very true. And yet I maintain I 'm not frivolous."
"I hope not," said Miss Garland, simply. They had reached a point where th_ood-path forked and put forth two divergent tracks which lost themselves in _erdurous tangle. Miss Garland seemed to think that the difficulty of choic_etween them was a reason for giving them up and turning back. Rowland though_therwise, and detected agreeable grounds for preference in the left-han_ath. As a compromise, they sat down on a fallen log. Looking about him, Rowland espied a curious wild shrub, with a spotted crimson leaf; he went an_lucked a spray of it and brought it to Miss Garland. He had never observed i_efore, but she immediately called it by its name. She expressed surprise a_is not knowing it; it was extremely common. He presently brought her _pecimen of another delicate plant, with a little blue-streaked flower. "_uppose that 's common, too," he said, "but I have never seen it—or notice_t, at least." She answered that this one was rare, and meditated a momen_efore she could remember its name. At last she recalled it, and expresse_urprise at his having found the plant in the woods; she supposed it grew onl_n open marshes. Rowland complimented her on her fund of useful information.
"It 's not especially useful," she answered; "but I like to know the names o_lants as I do those of my acquaintances. When we walk in the woods a_ome—which we do so much—it seems as unnatural not to know what to call th_lowers as it would be to see some one in the town with whom we were not o_peaking terms."
"Apropos of frivolity," Rowland said, "I 'm sure you have very little of it, unless at West Nazareth it is considered frivolous to walk in the woods an_od to the nodding flowers. Do kindly tell me a little about yourself." And t_ompel her to begin, "I know you come of a race of theologians," he went on.
"No," she replied, deliberating; "they are not theologians, though they ar_inisters. We don't take a very firm stand upon doctrine; we are practical, rather. We write sermons and preach them, but we do a great deal of hard wor_eside."
"And of this hard work what has your share been?"
"The hardest part: doing nothing."
"What do you call nothing?"
"I taught school a while: I must make the most of that. But I confess I di_'t like it. Otherwise, I have only done little things at home, as they turne_p."
"What kind of things?"
"Oh, every kind. If you had seen my home, you would understand."
Rowland would have liked to make her specify; but he felt a more urgent nee_o respect her simplicity than he had ever felt to defer to the comple_ircumstance of certain other women. "To be happy, I imagine," he contente_imself with saying, "you need to be occupied. You need to have something t_xpend yourself upon."
"That is not so true as it once was; now that I am older, I am sure I am les_mpatient of leisure. Certainly, these two months that I have been with Mrs.
Hudson, I have had a terrible amount of it. And yet I have liked it! And no_hat I am probably to be with her all the while that her son is away, I loo_orward to more with a resignation that I don't quite know what to make of."
"It is settled, then, that you are to remain with your cousin?"
"It depends upon their writing from home that I may stay. But that i_robable. Only I must not forget," she said, rising, "that the ground for m_oing so is that she be not left alone."
"I am glad to know," said Rowland, "that I shall probably often hear abou_ou. I assure you I shall often think about you!" These words were hal_mpulsive, half deliberate. They were the simple truth, and he had aske_imself why he should not tell her the truth. And yet they were not all of it; her hearing the rest would depend upon the way she received this. She receive_t not only, as Rowland foresaw, without a shadow of coquetry, of any apparen_hought of listening to it gracefully, but with a slight movement of nervou_eprecation, which seemed to betray itself in the quickening of her step.
Evidently, if Rowland was to take pleasure in hearing about her, it would hav_o be a highly disinterested pleasure. She answered nothing, and Rowland too, as he walked beside her, was silent; but as he looked along the shadow-wove_ood-path, what he was really facing was a level three years o_isinterestedness. He ushered them in by talking composed civility until h_ad brought Miss Garland back to her companions.
He saw her but once again. He was obliged to be in New York a couple of day_efore sailing, and it was arranged that Roderick should overtake him at th_ast moment. The evening before he left Northampton he went to say farewell t_rs. Hudson. The ceremony was brief. Rowland soon perceived that the poo_ittle lady was in the melting mood, and, as he dreaded her tears, h_ompressed a multitude of solemn promises into a silent hand-shake and too_is leave. Miss Garland, she had told him, was in the back-garden wit_oderick: he might go out to them. He did so, and as he drew near he hear_oderick's high-pitched voice ringing behind the shrubbery. In a moment, emerging, he found Miss Garland leaning against a tree, with her cousin befor_er talking with great emphasis. He asked pardon for interrupting them, an_aid he wished only to bid her good-by. She gave him her hand and he made he_is bow in silence. "Don't forget," he said to Roderick, as he turned away.
"And don't, in this company, repent of your bargain."
"I shall not let him," said Miss Garland, with something very like gayety. "_hall see that he is punctual. He must go! I owe you an apology for havin_oubted that he ought to." And in spite of the dusk Rowland could see that sh_ad an even finer smile than he had supposed.
Roderick was punctual, eagerly punctual, and they went. Rowland for severa_ays was occupied with material cares, and lost sight of his sentimenta_erplexities. But they only slumbered, and they were sharply awakened. Th_eather was fine, and the two young men always sat together upon deck lat_nto the evening. One night, toward the last, they were at the stern of th_reat ship, watching her grind the solid blackness of the ocean int_hosphorescent foam. They talked on these occasions of everything conceivable, and had the air of having no secrets from each other. But it was on Roderick'_onscience that this air belied him, and he was too frank by nature, moreover, for permanent reticence on any point.
"I must tell you something," he said at last. "I should like you to know it, and you will be so glad to know it. Besides, it 's only a question of time; three months hence, probably, you would have guessed it. I am engaged to Mar_arland."
Rowland sat staring; though the sea was calm, it seemed to him that the shi_ave a great dizzying lurch. But in a moment he contrived to answe_oherently: "Engaged to Miss Garland! I never supposed—I never imagined"—
"That I was in love with her?" Roderick interrupted. "Neither did I, unti_his last fortnight. But you came and put me into such ridiculous good-humo_hat I felt an extraordinary desire to tell some woman that I adored her. Mis_arland is a magnificent girl; you know her too little to do her justice. _ave been quietly learning to know her, these past three months, and have bee_alling in love with her without being conscious of it. It appeared, when _poke to her, that she had a kindness for me. So the thing was settled. I mus_f course make some money before we can marry. It 's rather droll, certainly, to engage one's self to a girl whom one is going to leave the next day, fo_ears. We shall be condemned, for some time to come, to do a terrible deal o_bstract thinking about each other. But I wanted her blessing on my career an_ could not help asking for it. Unless a man is unnaturally selfish he need_o work for some one else than himself, and I am sure I shall run a smoothe_nd swifter course for knowing that that fine creature is waiting, a_orthampton, for news of my greatness. If ever I am a dull companion and over- addicted to moping, remember in justice to me that I am in love and that m_weetheart is five thousand miles away."
Rowland listened to all this with a sort of feeling that fortune had playe_im an elaborately-devised trick. It had lured him out into mid-ocean an_moothed the sea and stilled the winds and given him a singularly sympatheti_omrade, and then it had turned and delivered him a thumping blow in mid- chest. "Yes," he said, after an attempt at the usual formal congratulation,
"you certainly ought to do better—with Miss Garland waiting for you a_orthampton."
Roderick, now that he had broken ground, was eloquent and rung a hundre_hanges on the assurance that he was a very happy man. Then at last, suddenly, his climax was a yawn, and he declared that he must go to bed. Rowland let hi_o alone, and sat there late, between sea and sky.