CHAPTER II. Roderick
Early on the morrow Rowland received a visit from his new friend.
Roderick was in a state of extreme exhilaration, tempered, however, by
a certain amount of righteous wrath. He had had a domestic struggle, but
he had remained master of the 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,
for she takes things terribly hard. She does n't scold nor storm, and
she does n't argue nor insist. She sits with her eyes full of tears
that never fall, and looks at me, when I displease her, as if I were
a perfect monster of depravity. And the trouble is that I was born to
displease her. She does n't trust me; she never has and she never will.
I don't know what I have done to set her against me, but ever since I
can remember I have been looked at with tears. The trouble is," he went
on, giving a twist to his moustache, "I 've been too absurdly docile.
I 've been sprawling all my days by the maternal fireside, and my dear
mother has grown used to bullying me. I 've made myself cheap! If I 'm
not in my bed by eleven o'clock, the girl is sent out to explore 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
should like for six months to lead Mrs. Hudson the life some fellows
lead their mothers!"
"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 are worse fates in the world than being loved too
well. I have not had the pleasure of seeing your mother, but I would lay
you a wager that that is the trouble. She is passionately fond of you,
and her hopes, like all intense hopes, keep trembling into fears."
Rowland, as he spoke, had an instinctive vision of how such a beautiful
young fellow must be loved by his female relatives.
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 you the perfect truth," he went on. "I have to fill a double
place. I have to be my brother as well as myself. It 's a good deal to
ask of a man, especially when he has so little talent as I for being
what he is not. When we were both young together I was the curled
darling. I had the silver mug and the biggest piece of pudding, and I
stayed in-doors to be kissed by the ladies while he made mud-pies in the
garden and was never missed, of course. Really, he was worth fifty of
me! When he was brought home from Vicksburg with a piece of shell in
his skull, my poor mother began to think she had n't loved him enough. I
remember, as she hung round my neck sobbing, before his coffin, she told
me that I must be to her everything that he would have been. I swore in
tears and in perfect good faith that I would, but naturally I have
not kept my promise. I have been utterly different. I have been idle,
restless, egotistical, discontented. I have done no harm, I believe, but
I have done no good. My brother, if he had lived, would have made
fifty thousand dollars and put gas and water into the house. My mother,
brooding night and day on her bereavement, has come to fix her ideal in
offices of that sort. Judged by that standard I 'm nowhere!"
Rowland was at loss how to receive this account of his friend's domestic
circumstances; it was plaintive, and yet the manner seemed to him
over-trenchant. "You must lose no time in making a masterpiece," he
answered; "then with the proceeds you can give her gas from golden
"So I have told her; but she only half believes either in masterpiece or
in proceeds. She can see no good in my making statues; they seem to her
a snare of the enemy. She would fain see me all my life tethered to the
law, like a browsing goat to a stake. In that way I 'm in sight. 'It
's a more regular occupation!' that 's all I can get out of her. A
more regular damnation! Is it a fact that artists, in general, are such
wicked men? I never had the pleasure of knowing one, so I could n't
confute her with an example. She had the advantage of me, because she
formerly knew a portrait-painter at Richmond, who did 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, whatever I
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, during which I expended treasures of eloquence. It 's a good thing
to have to reckon up one's intentions, and I assure you, as I pleaded my
cause, I was most agreeably impressed with the elevated character of
my own. I kissed her solemnly at last, and told her that I had said
everything and that she must make the best of it. This morning she has
dried her eyes, but I warrant you it is 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 much suffering. I owe your mother some amends; will it be possible
for me to see her?"
"If you 'll see her, it will smooth matters vastly; though to tell the
truth she 'll need all her courage to face you, for she considers you an
agent of the foul fiend. She does n't see why you should have come
here and set me by the ears: you are made to ruin ingenuous youths and
desolate doting mothers. I leave it to you, personally, to answer these
charges. You see, what she can't forgive--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, as you 'd say 'damnation.'
Northampton is in the centre of the earth and Rome far away in outlying
dusk, into which it can do no Christian any good to penetrate. And there
was I but yesterday a doomed habitue of that repository of 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-natured attorney, who lets me dog's-ear his law-books. He's a
particular friend and general adviser. He looks after my mother's
property and kindly consents to regard 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 set it on hind part
before. He never understood me, and it was useless to try to make him.
We speak a different language--we 're made of a different clay. I had a
fit of rage yesterday when I smashed his bust, at the thought of all the
bad blood he had stirred up in me; it did me good, and it 's all over
now. I don't hate him any more; I 'm rather sorry for him. See how you
've improved me! I must have seemed to him wilfully, wickedly stupid,
and I 'm sure he only tolerated me on account of his great regard for my
mother. This morning I grasped the bull by the horns. I took an armful
of law-books that have been gathering the dust in my room for the last
year and a half, and presented myself at the office. 'Allow me to put
these back in their places,' I said. 'I shall never have need for
them more--never more, never more, never more!' 'So you 've learned
everything they contain?' asked Striker, leering over his spectacles.
'Better late than never.' 'I 've learned nothing that you can teach me,'
I cried. 'But I shall tax your patience no longer. I 'm going to be a
sculptor. I 'm going to Rome. I won't bid you good-by just yet; I shall
see you again. But I bid good-by here, with rapture, to these four
detested walls--to this living tomb! I did n't know till now how I hated
it! My compliments 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
respectful farewell, 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 new career I should like to know. What does Miss
Hudson looked at him keenly, with a slight blush. Then, with a conscious
smile, "What makes you suppose she thinks anything?" he asked.
"Because, though I saw her but for a moment yesterday, she struck me as
a very intelligent person, and I am sure she has opinions."
The smile on Roderick's mobile face passed rapidly into a frown. "Oh,
she thinks what I think!" he answered.
Before the two young men separated Rowland attempted to give as
harmonious a shape as possible to his companion's scheme. "I have
launched you, as I may say," he said, "and I feel as if I ought to see
you into port. I am older than you and know the world better, and
it seems well that we should voyage a while together. It 's on my
conscience that I ought to take you to Rome, walk you through the
Vatican, and then lock you up with a heap of clay. I sail on the fifth
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's wisdom 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 to indicate 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, in his own organism, in the region indicated by Roderick, and
of the heavy one in deposit at his banker's, of bags and boxes.
When his companion had left him he went in search of Cecilia. She
was sitting at work at a shady window, and welcomed him to a low
chintz-covered chair. He sat some time, thoughtfully snipping tape with
her scissors; he expected criticism and he was preparing a rejoinder. At
last he told her of Roderick's decision 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 the person in all Northampton who amuses me most!' I would have said
in the second place, 'Nonsense! the boy is doing very well. Let well
"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
Rowland's countenance fell. He frowned in silence. Cecilia looked at him
askance; gradually the spark of irritation faded from her eye.
"Excuse my sharpness," she resumed at last. "But I am literally in
despair at losing Roderick Hudson. His visits in the evening, for the
past year, have kept me alive. They have given a silver tip to leaden
days. I don't say he is of a more useful metal than other people, but he
is of a different one. Of course, however, that I shall miss him sadly
is not a reason for his not going to seek his fortune. Men must work and
women must weep!"
"Decidedly not!" said Rowland, with a good deal of emphasis. He had
suspected from the first hour of his stay that Cecilia had treated
herself to a private social luxury; he had then discovered that she
found it in Hudson's lounging visits 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. It was evident that Cecilia was not
judicious, and that her good sense, habitually rigid under the demands
of domestic economy, indulged itself with a certain agreeable laxity on
this particular point. She liked her young friend just as he was; she
humored him, flattered him, laughed at him, caressed him--did
everything but advise him. It was a flirtation without the benefits of
a flirtation. She was too old to let him fall in love with her, which
might have done him good; and her inclination was to keep him young, so
that the nonsense he talked might never transgress a certain line. It
was quite conceivable that poor Cecilia should relish a pastime; but if
one had philanthropically embraced the idea that something considerable
might be made of Roderick, it was impossible not to see that her
friendship was not what might be called tonic. So Rowland reflected, in
the glow of his new-born sympathy. There was a later time when he would
have been grateful if Hudson's susceptibility to the relaxing influence
of lovely women might have been limited to such inexpensive tribute as
he rendered the excellent Cecilia.
"I only desire to remind you," she pursued, "that you are likely to have
your hands 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 my hands. When it first occurred to me that I might start our
young friend on the path of glory, I felt as if I had an unimpeachable
inspiration. Then I remembered there were dangers and difficulties,
and asked myself whether I had a right to step in between him and his
obscurity. My sense of his really having the divine flame answered the
question. He is made to do the things that humanity is the happier for!
I can't do such things myself, but when I see 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 give at 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,
first of all, to be happy myself. You guarantee us at any rate, I hope,
"A masterpiece a year," said Rowland smiling, "for the next quarter of a
"It seems to me that we have a right to ask more: to demand that you
guarantee us not only the development of the artist, but the security of
Rowland became grave again. "His security?"
"His moral, his sentimental security. Here, you see, it 's perfect. We
are all under a tacit compact to preserve it. Perhaps you believe in
the necessary turbulence of genius, and you intend to enjoin upon your
protege the importance of cultivating his passions."
"On the contrary, I believe that a man of genius owes as much deference
to his passions as any other man, but not a particle more, and I confess
I have a strong conviction that the artist is better for leading a quiet
life. That is what I shall preach to my protege, as you call him, by
example as well as by precept. You evidently believe," he added in a
moment, "that he will lead me a dance."
"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 been fuming and fretting here for the last five years,
he has nevertheless managed to 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 like vastly to see the change. You must
write me about it, from stage to stage. I hope 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 a strict 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 a certain tension of one's being. It 's what a man is meant
for. And then I believe in the essential salubrity of genius--true
"Very good," said Cecilia, with an air of resignation which made
Rowland, for the moment, seem to himself culpably eager. "We 'll drink
then to-day at dinner to the health of our friend."
* * *
Having it much at heart to convince Mrs. Hudson of the purity of his
intentions, Rowland waited upon her that evening. He was ushered into a
large parlor, which, by the light of a couple of candles, he perceived
to be very meagrely furnished and very tenderly and sparingly used. The
windows were open to the air of the summer night, and a circle of three
persons was temporarily awed into silence by his appearance. One
of these was Mrs. Hudson, who was sitting at one of the windows,
empty-handed save for the pocket-handkerchief in 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 a visitor outstaying
ceremony, with one long leg flung over the other and a large foot in a
clumsy boot swinging to and fro continually, was a lean, sandy-haired
gentleman whom Rowland recognized as the original of the portrait of Mr.
Barnaby Striker. At the table, near the candles, busy with a substantial
piece of needle-work, sat the young girl of whom he had had a moment's
quickened glimpse in Roderick's studio, and whom he had learned to
be Miss Garland, his companion's kinswoman. This young lady's limpid,
penetrating gaze was the most effective greeting he received. Mrs.
Hudson rose with a soft, vague sound of distress, and stood looking at
him shrinkingly and waveringly, 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 used to offering hollow welcomes or
telling polite fibs. Rowland introduced himself; he had come, he might
say, upon business.
"Yes," said Mrs. Hudson tremulously; "I know--my son has told me. I
suppose it is better I should see you. Perhaps you will take a seat."
With this invitation Rowland prepared to comply, and, turning, grasped
the first chair that offered itself.
"Not that one," said a full, grave voice; whereupon he perceived that a
quantity of sewing-silk had been suspended and entangled over the back,
preparatory to being wound on reels. He felt the least bit irritated at
the curtness of the warning, coming as it did from a young woman whose
countenance he had mentally pronounced interesting, and with regard to
whom he was conscious of the germ of the inevitable desire to produce a
responsive interest. And then he thought it would break the ice to say
something playfully urbane.
"Oh, you should let me take the chair," he answered, "and have the
pleasure of holding the skeins myself!"
For all reply to this sally he received a stare of undisguised amazement
from Miss Garland, who then looked across at Mrs. Hudson with a glance
which plainly said: "You see he 's quite the insidious personage we
feared." The elder lady, however, sat with her eyes fixed on the ground
and her two hands tightly clasped. But touching her Rowland felt much
more compassion than resentment; her attitude was not coldness, it was
a kind of dread, almost a terror. She was a small, eager woman, with a
pale, troubled face, which added to her apparent age. After looking at
her for some minutes Rowland saw that she was still young, and that she
must have been a very girlish bride. She had been a pretty one, too,
though she probably had looked terribly frightened at the altar. She
was very delicately made, and Roderick had come honestly by his physical
slimness and elegance. She wore no cap, and her flaxen hair, which was
of extraordinary fineness, was smoothed and confined with Puritanic
precision. She was excessively shy, and evidently very humble-minded; it
was singular to see a woman to whom the experience of life had conveyed
so little reassurance 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 her that there was no harm in him, and that,
twenty to one, her son would make her a well-pleased woman yet. He
foresaw that she would be easy to persuade, and that a benevolent
conversational tone would probably make her pass, fluttering, from
distrust into an oppressive extreme of confidence. But he had an
indefinable sense that the person who was testing that strong young
eyesight of hers in the dim candle-light was less readily beguiled
from her mysterious feminine preconceptions. Miss Garland, according
to Cecilia's judgment, as Rowland remembered, had not a countenance to
inspire a sculptor; but it seemed to Rowland that her countenance might
fairly inspire a man who was far from being a sculptor. She was not
pretty, as the eye of habit judges prettiness, but when you made the
observation you somehow failed to set it down against her, for you had
already passed from measuring contours to tracing meanings. In Mary
Garland's face there were many possible ones, and they 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 a candle in
a wind. They followed each other slowly, distinctly, gravely, sincerely,
and you might almost have fancied that, as they came and went, they gave
her a sort of pain. She was tall and slender, and had an air of maidenly
strength and decision. She had a broad forehead and dark eyebrows, a
trifle thicker than those of classic beauties; her gray eye was clear
but not brilliant, and her features were perfectly irregular. Her mouth
was large, fortunately for the principal grace of her physiognomy was
her smile, which displayed itself with magnificent amplitude. Rowland,
indeed, had not yet seen her smile, but something assured him that her
rigid gravity had a radiant counterpart. She wore a scanty white dress,
and had a nameless rustic air which would have led one to speak of her
less as a young lady than as a young woman. She was evidently a girl
of a great personal force, but she lacked pliancy. She was hemming
a kitchen towel with the aid of a large steel thimble. She bent her
serious eyes at last on her work again, and let Rowland explain 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 your acquaintance."
"Very just," murmured the poor lady, and after a moment's hesitation was
on the point of adding something more; but Mr. Striker here interposed,
after a prefatory clearance of the throat.
"I should like to take the liberty," he said, "of addressing you a
simple question. For how long a period of time have you been acquainted
with our young friend?" He continued to kick the air, but his head was
thrown back and his eyes fixed on the opposite wall, as if in aversion
to the spectacle of Rowland'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
daily these three years, and yet it was only this morning that I felt as
if I had at last the right to say that I knew him. We had a few moments'
conversation in my office which supplied the missing links in the
evidence. So that now I do venture 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 shake of all his long person.
Mrs. Hudson smiled confusedly, at hazard; Miss Garland kept her eyes on
her stitches. But it seemed to Rowland that the latter colored a little.
"Oh, in three years, of course," he said, "we shall know each other
better. Before many years are over, madam," he pursued, "I expect the
world to know him. I expect him to be a great man!"
Mrs. Hudson looked at first as if this could be but an insidious device
for increasing her distress by the assistance of irony. Then reassured,
little by little, by Rowland's benevolent visage, she gave him an
appealing glance and a timorous "Really?"
But before Rowland could respond, Mr. Striker again intervened. "Do
I fully apprehend your expression?" he asked. "Our young friend is to
become a great man?"
"A great artist, I hope," said Rowland.
"This is a new and interesting view," said Mr. Striker, with an
assumption of judicial calmness. "We have had hopes for Mr. Roderick,
but I confess, if I have rightly understood them, they stopped short of
greatness. We should n't have 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 his merits were rather in the
line of the"--and Mr. Striker waved his hand with a series of fantastic
flourishes in the air--"of the light ornamental!" Mr. Striker bore his
recalcitrant pupil a grudge, but he was evidently trying both to be
fair and to respect the susceptibilities of his companions. But he was
unversed in the mysterious processes of feminine emotion. Ten minutes
before, there had been a general harmony of sombre views; but on hearing
Roderick's limitations thus distinctly formulated to a stranger, the two
ladies mutely protested. Mrs. Hudson uttered a short, faint sigh, and
Miss Garland raised her eyes toward their advocate and visited him with
a short, cold glance.
"I 'm afraid, Mrs. Hudson," Rowland pursued, evading the discussion
of Roderick's possible greatness, "that you don't at all thank me for
stirring up your son's ambition on a line which leads him so far from
home. I suspect I have made you my enemy."
Mrs. Hudson covered her mouth with her finger-tips and looked painfully
perplexed between the desire to confess the truth and the fear of being
impolite. "My cousin is no one's enemy," Miss Garland hereupon declared,
gently, but with that same fine deliberateness with which she had made
Rowland relax 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;
"Miss Garland perhaps most of all. Miss Garland," and Mr. Striker
waved his hand again as if to perform an introduction which had been
regrettably omitted, "is the daughter of a minister, the granddaughter
of a minister, the sister of a minister." Rowland bowed deferentially,
and the young girl went on with her sewing, with nothing, apparently,
either of embarrassment or elation at the promulgation of these facts.
Mr. Striker continued: "Mrs. Hudson, I see, is too deeply agitated
to converse with you freely. She will allow me to address you a few
questions. Would you kindly inform her, as exactly as possible, just
what you propose to do with her son?"
The poor lady fixed her eyes appealingly on Rowland's face and seemed
to say that Mr. Striker had spoken her desire, though she herself would
have expressed it less defiantly. But Rowland saw in Mr. Striker's
many-wrinkled light blue eye, shrewd at once and good-natured, that
he had no intention of defiance, and that he was simply pompous and
conceited and sarcastically compassionate of any view of things in which
Roderick Hudson was regarded in a serious light.
"Do, my dear madam?" demanded Rowland. "I don't propose to do anything.
He must do for himself. I simply offer him the chance. He 's to study,
to work--hard, I hope."
"Not too hard, please," murmured Mrs. Hudson, pleadingly, wheeling about
from recent visions of dangerous leisure. "He 's not very strong, and I
'm afraid the climate of Europe is very relaxing."
"Ah, study?" repeated Mr. Striker. "To what line of study is he to
direct his attention?" Then suddenly, with an impulse of disinterested
curiosity on his own 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
you hear, madam? Roderick is going off to Europe to learn to imitate the
"I suppose it 's all right," said Mrs. Hudson, twisting herself in a
sort of delicate anguish.
"An antique, as I understand it," the lawyer continued, "is an image of
a pagan deity, with considerable dirt sticking to it, and no arms, no
nose, and no 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 objects I 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 is still studying."
"Oh, my poor boy!" moaned Mrs. Hudson, finding the prospect, under every
light, still terrible.
"Now this study of the living model," Mr. Striker pursued. "Inform Mrs.
Hudson about that."
"Oh dear, no!" cried Mrs. Hudson, shrinkingly.
"That too," said Rowland, "is one of the reasons for studying in Rome.
It 's a handsome 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
visitor which showed that she had already begun to concede much weight
to his opinion. Rowland hastened to express his assent to Mr. Striker's
Miss Garland looked up, and, after a moment's hesitation: "Are the Roman
women very beautiful?" she asked.
Rowland too, in answering, hesitated; he was looking straight at the
young girl. "On the whole, I prefer ours," he said.
She had dropped her work in her lap; her hands were crossed upon it, her
head thrown a little back. She had evidently expected a more impersonal
answer, and she 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 person of a disagreeably sophisticated tone. He noticed too that the
kitchen towel she was hemming was terribly coarse. And yet his answer
had a resonant inward echo, and he repeated to himself, "Yes, on the
whole, I prefer ours."
"Well, these models," began Mr. Striker. "You put them into an attitude,
"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 up
something that looks like them."
"Well, there you are with your model in an attitude on one side,
yourself, in an 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 out and take a walk, and rest from your
"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 hour with the page unturned, watching the flies buzz, or the frost
melt on the window-pane. Our young friend, in this way, must have laid
up stores of information which I never suspected!"
"Very likely," said Rowland, with an unresentful smile, "he will prove
some day the completer artist for some of those lazy reveries."
This theory was apparently very grateful to Mrs. Hudson, who had never
had the case put for her son with such ingenious hopefulness, and found
herself disrelishing the singular situation of seeming to side against
her own flesh and 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
call great powers?"
"To my sense, very great powers."
Poor Mrs. Hudson actually smiled, broadly, gleefully, and glanced at
Miss Garland, as if to invite her to do likewise. But the young girl's
face remained serious, like the eastern sky when the opposite sunset is
too feeble to make it glow. "Do you really know?" she asked, looking at
"One cannot know in such a matter save after proof, and proof takes
time. But one can believe."
"And you believe?"
But even then Miss Garland vouchsafed no smile. Her face became graver
"Well, well," said Mrs. Hudson, "we must hope that it is all for the
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, and that, through some untraceable process of transition,
she was now taking more comfort in the opinions of this insinuating
stranger than in his own tough dogmas. He rose to his feet,
without pulling down his waistcoat, but with a wrinkled grin at the
inconsistency of women. "Well, sir, Mr. Roderick's powers are nothing to
me," he said, "nor no use he makes of them. Good or bad, he 's no son
of mine. But, in a friendly way, I 'm glad to hear so fine an account
of 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 his beard, with his head inclined and one eye half-closed,
looking at Rowland. The look was grotesque, but it was significant, and
it puzzled Rowland more than it 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 and all that sort of thing. I 'm a
plain, practical old boy, content to follow an honorable profession in a
free country. I did n't go off to the Old World to learn my business; no
one took me by the hand; I had to grease my wheels myself, and, such as
I am, I 'm a self-made man, every inch of me! Well, if our young friend
is booked for fame and fortune, I don't suppose his going to Rome 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 'd
better remember. The crop we gather depends upon the seed we sow. He may
be the biggest genius of the age: his potatoes won't come up without his
hoeing them. If he takes things so almighty easy as--well, as one or two
young fellows of genius I 've had under my eye--his produce will never
gain the prize. Take the word for it of a man who has made his way inch
by inch, and does n't believe that we 'll wake up to find our work done
because we 've lain all night a-dreaming of it; anything worth doing is
devilish hard to do! If your young protajay finds things easy and has
a good time and says he likes the life, it 's a sign that--as I may
say--you had better step round to the office and look at the books. That
's all I desire to remark. No offense intended. I hope you 'll have a
Rowland could honestly reply that this seemed pregnant sense, and he
offered Mr. Striker a friendly hand-shake as the latter withdrew. But
Mr. Striker's rather grim view of matters cast a momentary shadow on his
companions, and Mrs. Hudson seemed to feel that it necessitated between
them some little friendly agreement not to be overawed.
Rowland sat for some time longer, partly because he wished to please the
two women and partly because he was strangely pleased himself. There
was something touching in their unworldly fears and diffident hopes,
something almost terrible in the way poor little Mrs. Hudson seemed
to flutter and quiver with intense maternal passion. She put forth one
timid conversational venture after another, and asked Rowland a number
of questions about himself, his age, his family, his occupations, his
tastes, his religious opinions. Rowland had an odd feeling at last that
she had begun to consider him very exemplary, and that she might
make, later, some perturbing discovery. He tried, therefore, to invent
something that would prepare her to find him fallible. But he could
think of nothing. It only seemed to him that Miss Garland secretly
mistrusted him, 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 with low-voiced eagerness about her son.
"He 's very lovable, sir, I assure you. When you come to know him you
'll find him very lovable. He 's a little spoiled, of course; he has
always done with me as he pleased; but he 's a good boy, I 'm sure he 's
a good boy. And every one thinks him very attractive: I 'm sure he 'd be
noticed, anywhere. Don't you think he 's very handsome, sir? He features
his poor father. I had another--perhaps you 've been told. He was
killed." And the poor little lady bravely smiled, for fear of doing
worse. "He was a very fine boy, but very different from Roderick.
Roderick is a little strange; he has never been an easy boy. Sometimes
I feel like the goose--was n't it a goose, dear?" and startled by the
audacity of her comparison she appealed to Miss Garland--"the goose, or
the hen, who hatched a swan's egg. I have never been able to give him
what he needs. I have always thought that in more--in more brilliant
circumstances he might find his place and be happy. But at the same time
I was afraid of the world for him; it was so large and dangerous and
dreadful. No doubt I know very little about it. I never suspected, I
confess, that it contained 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 fairy tale."
"Your coming here all unknown, so rich and so polite, and carrying off
my cousin in a golden cloud."
If this was badinage Miss Garland had the best of it, for Rowland almost
fell a-musing silently over the question whether there was a possibility
of irony in that transparent gaze. Before he withdrew, Mrs. Hudson made
him tell her again that Roderick's powers were extraordinary. He had
inspired her with a clinging, caressing faith in his wisdom. "He will
really do great things," she asked, "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 I will sit here and talk about it. So I give him up," she went on,
as he was going. "I 'm sure you 'll be the best of friends to him,
but if you should ever forget him, or grow tired of him, or lose your
interest in him, and he should 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 very
"In so far as I can help him, he shall succeed," was all Rowland could
say. He turned to Miss Garland, to bid her good night, and she rose and
put out her hand. She was very straightforward, but he could see that if
she was too modest to be bold, she was much too simple to be shy. "Have
you no charge to lay 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
you take a great interest in him?" he demanded.
"Then, if he will not do his best for you, he will not do it for me."
She turned away with another blush, and Rowland took his leave.
He walked homeward, thinking of many things. The great Northampton
elms interarched far above in the darkness, but the moon had risen and
through scattered apertures was hanging the dusky vault with silver
lamps. There seemed to Rowland something intensely serious in the scene
in which he had just 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 of this little New England home, and that he
had ventured to disturb so much living security in the interest of a
far-away, fantastic hypothesis, he paused, amazed at his temerity. It
was true, as Cecilia had said, that for an unofficious man it was a
singular position. There stirred in his mind an odd feeling of annoyance
with Roderick for having thus peremptorily enlisted his sympathies. As
he looked up and down the long vista, and saw the clear white houses
glancing here and there in the broken moonshine, he could almost have
believed that the happiest lot for any man was to make the most of life
in some such tranquil spot as that. Here were kindness, comfort, safety,
the warning voice of duty, the perfect hush of temptation. And as
Rowland looked along the arch of silvered shadow and out into the lucid
air of the American night, which seemed so doubly vast, somehow, and
strange and nocturnal, he felt like declaring that here was beauty
too--beauty sufficient for an artist not to starve upon it. As he stood,
lost in the darkness, he presently heard a rapid tread on the other side
of the road, accompanied by a loud, jubilant whistle, and in a moment
a figure emerged into an open gap of moonshine. He had no difficulty
in recognizing Hudson, who was presumably returning from a visit to
Cecilia. Roderick stopped suddenly and stared up at the moon, with his
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
the darkness again, as if his thoughts had lent him wings. He was
dreaming of the inspiration of foreign lands,--of castled crags and
historic landscapes. What a pity, after all, thought Rowland, as he went
his own way, that he should n't have a taste of it!
It had been a very just remark of Cecilia's that Roderick would change
with a change in his circumstances. Rowland had telegraphed to New York
for another berth on his steamer, and from the hour the answer came
Hudson's spirits rose to incalculable heights. He was radiant with
good-humor, and his kindly jollity seemed the pledge of a brilliant
future. He had forgiven his old enemies and forgotten his old
grievances, and seemed every way reconciled to a world in which he was
going to count as an active force. He was inexhaustibly loquacious and
fantastic, and as Cecilia said, he had suddenly become so good that
it was only to be feared he was going to start not for Europe but for
heaven. He took long walks with Rowland, who felt more and more the
fascination of what he would have called his giftedness. Rowland
returned several times to Mrs. Hudson's, and found the two ladies doing
their best to be happy in their companion's happiness. Miss Garland, he
thought, was succeeding better than her demeanor on his first visit had
promised. He tried to have some especial talk with her, but her extreme
reserve forced him to content himself with such response to his rather
urgent overtures as might be extracted from a keenly attentive smile.
It must be confessed, however, that if the response was vague, the
satisfaction was great, and that Rowland, after his second visit, kept
seeing a lurking reflection of this smile in the most unexpected places.
It seemed strange that she should please him so well at so slender
a cost, but please him she did, prodigiously, and his pleasure had
a quality altogether new to him. It made him restless, and a trifle
melancholy; he walked about absently, wondering and wishing. He
wondered, among other things, why fate should have condemned him to
make the acquaintance of a girl whom he would make a sacrifice to know
better, just as he was leaving the country for years. It seemed to him
that he was turning his back on a chance of happiness--happiness of a
sort of which the slenderest germ should be cultivated. He asked himself
whether, feeling as he did, if he had only himself to please, he would
give up his journey and--wait. He had Roderick to please now, for whom
disappointment would be cruel; but he said to himself that certainly, if
there were no Roderick in the case, the ship should sail without him.
He asked Hudson several questions about his cousin, but Roderick,
confidential on most points, seemed to have reasons of his own for
being reticent on this one. His measured answers quickened Rowland's
curiosity, for Miss Garland, with her own irritating half-suggestions,
had only to be a subject of guarded allusion in others to become
intolerably interesting. He learned 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 was one of a half-a-dozen
daughters, that the family was very poor, and that she had come a couple
of months before to pay his mother a long visit. "It is to be a very
long one now," he said, "for it is settled that she is to remain while I
The fermentation of contentment in Roderick's soul reached its climax a
few days before the young men were to make their farewells. He had been
sitting with his friends on Cecilia's veranda, but for half an hour past
he had said nothing. Lounging back against a vine-wreathed column and
gazing idly at the stars, he kept caroling softly to himself with that
indifference to ceremony for which he always found allowance, and which
in him had a sort of pleading grace. At last, springing up: "I want to
strike out, hard!" he exclaimed. "I want to do something violent, to let
"I 'll tell you what to do, this lovely weather," said Cecilia. "Give a
picnic. It can be as violent as you please, and it will have the merit
of leading off our emotion into a safe channel, as well as yours."
Roderick laughed uproariously at Cecilia's very practical remedy for his
sentimental need, but a couple of days later, nevertheless, the picnic
was given. It was to be a family party, but Roderick, in his magnanimous
geniality, insisted on inviting Mr. Striker, a decision which Rowland
mentally applauded. "And we 'll have Mrs. Striker, too," he said, "if
she 'll come, to keep my mother in countenance; and at any rate we
'll have Miss Striker--the divine Petronilla!" The young lady thus
denominated formed, with Mrs. Hudson, Miss Garland, and Cecilia, the
feminine half of the company. Mr. Striker presented himself, sacrificing
a morning's work, with a magnanimity greater even than Roderick's, and
foreign support was further secured in the person of Mr. Whitefoot, the
young Orthodox minister. Roderick had chosen the feasting-place; he
knew it well and had passed many a summer afternoon there, lying at his
length on the grass and gazing at the blue undulations of the horizon.
It was a meadow on the edge of a wood, with mossy rocks protruding
through the grass 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 and done, with extraordinary distinctness.
Roderick surpassed himself in friendly jollity, and at one moment, when
exhilaration was at the highest, was seen in Mr. 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 dressed as if she
were going to sit for her photograph, and remained for a long time with
Roderick on a little promontory overhanging the lake. Mrs. Hudson sat
all day 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 push Roderick 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 at the beginning. Mr. Whitefoot, who but
a twelvemonth later became a convert to episcopacy and was already
cultivating a certain conversational sonority, devoted himself to
Cecilia. He had a little book in his pocket, out of which he read to
her at intervals, lying stretched at her feet, and it was a lasting joke
with Cecilia, afterwards, that she would never tell what Mr. Whitefoot's
little book had been. Rowland had placed himself near Miss Garland,
while the feasting went forward on the grass. She wore a so-called gypsy
hat--a little straw hat, tied down over her ears, so as to cast her
eyes into shadow, by a ribbon passing outside of it. When the company
dispersed, after lunch, he proposed to her to take a stroll in the
wood. She hesitated a moment and looked toward Mrs. Hudson, as if for
permission to leave her. But Mrs. Hudson was listening to Mr. Striker,
who sat gossiping to her with relaxed magniloquence, 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?"
she asked, with homely logic. But by this time she had consented, and
they were treading the fallen pine-needles.
"Oh, one must take all one can get," said Rowland. "If we can be friends
for half 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,
and in 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
better than Europe," she said. To a certain point Rowland agreed with
her, but he demurred, 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, "I look 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
the earth. What is the name of your little place?"
"West Nazareth," said Miss Garland, with her usual sobriety. "It is not
so very 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 are far finer woods there than this. We have miles and miles of
"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 had spoken jestingly, she glanced at him askance, though with no
visible diminution of her gravity. "Don't you know how to do anything?
Have you no profession?"
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, if I do nothing, I shall see a great deal; and if I 'm not a
producer, I shall at any rate be an observer."
"Can't we observe everywhere?"
"Certainly; and I really think that in that way I make the most of my
opportunities. Though I confess," he continued, "that I often remember
there are things to be seen here to which I probably have n't done
justice. I should like, for instance, to see West Nazareth."
She looked round at him, open-eyed; not, apparently, that she exactly
supposed he was jesting, for the expression of such a desire was not
necessarily facetious; but as if he must have spoken with an ulterior
motive. In fact, he had spoken from the simplest of motives. The girl
beside him pleased him unspeakably, and, suspecting that her charm
was essentially her own and not reflected from social circumstance,
he wished to give himself the satisfaction of contrasting her with the
meagre influences of her education. Miss Garland's second movement was
to take him at his word. "Since you are free to do as you please, why
don't you go there?"
"I am not free to do as I please now. I have offered your cousin to bear
him company to Europe, he has accepted with enthusiasm, and I cannot
"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
for him?" she asked at last.
"What I can. But my power of helping him is very small beside his power
of helping himself."
For a moment she was silent again. "You are very generous," she said,
"No, I am simply very shrewd. Roderick will repay me. It 's an
investment. At first, I think," he added shortly afterwards, "you would
not have paid me that compliment. You distrusted me."
She made no attempt to deny it. "I did n't see why you should wish to
make Roderick 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
"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
the wood-path forked and put forth two divergent tracks which lost
themselves in a verdurous tangle. Miss Garland seemed to think that the
difficulty of choice between them was a reason for giving them up and
turning back. Rowland thought otherwise, and detected agreeable grounds
for preference in the left-hand path. 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 and plucked a spray of it and
brought it to Miss Garland. He had never observed it before, but she
immediately called it by its name. She expressed surprise at his not
knowing it; it was extremely common. He presently brought her a specimen
of another delicate plant, with a little blue-streaked flower. "I
suppose that 's common, too," he said, "but I have never seen it--or
noticed it, at least." She answered that this one was rare, and
meditated a moment before she could remember its name. At last she
recalled it, and expressed surprise at his having found the plant in the
woods; she supposed it grew only in 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 of plants as I do those of my acquaintances. When we walk in the
woods at home--which we do so much--it seems as unnatural not to know
what to call the flowers as it would be to see some one in the town with
whom we were not on speaking 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 and nod to the nodding flowers. Do kindly tell me a little about
yourself." And to compel 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
are ministers. 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 work beside."
"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
did n't like it. Otherwise, I have only done little things at home, as
they turned up."
"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
need to respect her simplicity than he had ever felt to defer to the
complex circumstance of certain other women. "To be happy, I imagine,"
he contented himself with saying, "you need to be occupied. You need to
have something to expend yourself upon."
"That is not so true as it once was; now that I am older, I am sure I am
less impatient 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 now that I am probably to be with her all the while that
her son is away, I look forward 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 is
probable. Only I must not forget," she said, rising, "that the ground
for my doing so is that she be not left alone."
"I am glad to know," said Rowland, "that I shall probably often hear
about you. I assure you I shall often think about you!" These words were
half impulsive, half deliberate. They were the simple truth, and he had
asked himself 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 received it not only, as Rowland foresaw, without
a shadow of coquetry, of any apparent thought of listening to it
gracefully, but with a slight movement of nervous deprecation, which
seemed to betray itself in the quickening of her step. Evidently, if
Rowland was to take pleasure in hearing about her, it would have to 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-woven wood-path, what he was really facing was a level three
years of disinterestedness. He ushered them in by talking composed
civility until he had brought Miss Garland back to her companions.
He saw her but once again. He was obliged to be in New York a couple of
days before sailing, and it was arranged that Roderick should overtake
him at the last moment. The evening before he left Northampton he went
to say farewell to Mrs. Hudson. The ceremony was brief. Rowland soon
perceived that the poor little lady was in the melting mood, and, as he
dreaded her tears, he compressed a multitude of solemn promises into a
silent hand-shake and took his leave. Miss Garland, she had told him,
was in the back-garden with Roderick: he might go out to them. He did
so, and as he drew near he heard Roderick's high-pitched voice ringing
behind the shrubbery. In a moment, emerging, he found Miss Garland
leaning against a tree, with her cousin before her talking with great
emphasis. He asked pardon for interrupting them, and said he wished only
to bid her good-by. She gave him her hand and he made her his 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. "I shall see that he is punctual. He must go! I owe you an
apology for having doubted that he ought to." And in spite of the dusk
Rowland could see that she had an even finer smile than he had supposed.
Roderick was punctual, eagerly punctual, and they went. Rowland for
several days was occupied with material cares, and lost sight of his
sentimental perplexities. But they only slumbered, and they were
sharply awakened. The weather was fine, and the two young men always sat
together upon deck late into the evening. One night, toward the last,
they were at the stern of the great ship, watching her grind the solid
blackness of the ocean into phosphorescent 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's conscience 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 Mary Garland."
Rowland sat staring; though the sea was calm, it seemed to him that the
ship gave a great dizzying lurch. But in a moment he contrived to
answer coherently: "Engaged to Miss Garland! I never supposed--I never
"That I was in love with her?" Roderick interrupted. "Neither did I,
until this last fortnight. But you came and put me into such ridiculous
good-humor that I felt an extraordinary desire to tell some woman that I
adored her. Miss Garland is a magnificent girl; you know her too little
to do her justice. I have been quietly learning to know her, these
past three months, and have been falling in love with her without
being conscious of it. It appeared, when I spoke to her, that she had
a kindness for me. So the thing was settled. I must of 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, for years.
We shall be condemned, for some time to come, to do a terrible deal
of abstract thinking about each other. But I wanted her blessing on my
career and I could not help asking for it. Unless a man is unnaturally
selfish he needs to work for some one else than himself, and I am sure
I shall run a smoother and swifter course for knowing that that fine
creature is waiting, at Northampton, 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 my sweetheart is five thousand miles
Rowland listened to all this with a sort of feeling that fortune had
played him an elaborately-devised trick. It had lured him out into
mid-ocean and smoothed the sea and stilled the winds and given him a
singularly sympathetic comrade, 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 at Northampton."
Roderick, now that he had broken ground, was eloquent and rung a hundred
changes 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 him go alone, and sat there late, between sea and sky.