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Durham paused, conscious of the increas- I am sure, at least, that you have given me ing difficulty of the advance. She met him, no chance of recognizing, ever so slightly, parried him, at every turn: he had to take what you have done.” his baffled purpose back to another point of She shook her head, with the flicker of a attack.
smile on her melancholy lips. “Don't be Quite conceivably," he said: “so much too sure! You have given me a chance and so that I am aware I must make the most I have taken it-taken it to the full. So of this opportunity, because I am not likely fully," she continued, keeping her eyes fixed to get another.”
on his, “that if I were to accept any farther "But what remains of your opportunity, service you might choose to offer, I should if it isn't one to me?”
simply be robbing you-robbing you shame“It still remains, for me, an occasion to lessly.” She paused, and added in an unabase myself He broke off, conscious definable voice: "I was entitled, wasn't I, of a grossness of allusion that seemed, on a to take something in return for the service closer approach, the real obstacle to full ex. I had the happiness of doing you?” pression. But the moments were flying, Durham could not tell whether the irony and for his self-esteem's sake he must find of her tone was self-directed or addressed to some way of making her share the burden himself – perhaps it comprehended them of his repentance.
both. At any rate, he chose to overlook his “There is only one thinkable pretext for own share in it in replying earnestly: “So detaining you: it is that I may still show my much so, that I can't see how you can have sense of what you have done for me." left me nothing to add to what you say you
Madame de Treymes, who had moved have taken.” toward the door, paused at this and faced “Ah, but you don't know what that is!” him, resting her thin brown hands on a She continued to smile, elusively, ambiguslender sofa-back.
ously. “And what's more, you wouldn't “How do you propose to show that believe me if I told you." sense?” she enquired.
“How do you know?” he rejoined. Durham coloured still more deeply: he saw “You didn't believe me once before; and that she was determined to save her pride by this is so much more incredible.” making what he had to say of the utmost dif He took the taunt full in the face. “I ficulty. Well! he would let his expiation shall go away unhappy unless you tell me-take that form, then-it was as if her slender but then perhaps I have deserved to,” he hands held out to him the fool's cap he was confessed. condemned to press down on his own ears. She shook her head again, advancing
“By offering in return-in any form, toward the door with the evident intention of and to the utmost—any service you are for- bringing their conference to a close; but on giving enough to ask of me."
the threshold she paused to launch her reply. She received this with a low sound of "I can't send you away unhappy, since it laughter that scarcely rose to her lips. “You is in the contemplation of your happiness are princely. But, my dear sir, does it not that I have found my reward.” occur to you that I may, meanwhile, have taken my own way of repaying myself for
IX any service I have been fortunate enough to render you?”
The next day Durham left with his famDurham, at the question, or still more, ily for England, with the intention of not perhaps, at the tone in which it was put, felt, returning till after the divorce should have through his compunction, a vague faint chill been pronounced in September. of apprehension. Was she threatening him To say that he left with a quiet heart or only mocking him? Or was this barbed would be to overstate the case: the fact that swiftness of retort only the wounded creat- he could not communicate to Madame de ure's way of defending the privacy of her own Malrive the substance of his talk with her pain? He looked at her again, and read his sister-in-law still hung upon him uneasily. answer in the last conjecture.
But of definite apprehensions the lapse of "I don't know how you can have repaid time gradually freed him, and Madame de yourself for anything so disinterested—but Malrive's letters, addressed more frequently
to his mothers and sisters than to himself, observance of appearances could hardly for reflected, in their reassuring serenity, the un- bid Durham's return for such a purpose; disturbed course of events.
but it had been agreed between himself and There was to Durham something pecul. Madame de Malrive-who had once more iarly touching—as of an involuntary con- been left alone by Madame de Treymes' refession of almost unbearable loneliness-in turn to her family—that, so close to the fruithe way she had regained, with her re-entry tion of their wishes, they would propitiate into the clear air of American associations, fate by a scrupulous adherence to usage, and her own fresh trustfulness of view. Once communicate only, during his hasty visit, by she had accustomed herself to the surprise a daily interchange of notes. of finding her divorce unopposed, she had The ingenuity of Madame de Malrive's been, as it now seemed to Durham, in almost tenderness found, however, the day after his too great haste to renounce the habit of arrival, a means of tempering their privation. weighing motives and calculating chances. “Christiane,” she wrote, “is passing through It was as though her coming liberation had Paris on her way from Trouville, and has already freed her from the garb of a mental promised to see you for me if you will call on slavery, as though she could not too soon her today. She thinks there is no reason why or too conspicuously cast off the ugly badge you should not go to the Hôtel de Malrive, of suspicion. The fact that Durham's clev. as you will find her there alone, the family erness had achieved so easy a victory over having gone to Auvergne. She is really our forces apparently impregnable,merely raised friend and understands us." her estimate of that cleverness to the point of In obedience to this request—though perletting her feel that she could rest in it with haps inwardly regretting that it should have out farther demur. He had even noticed in been made-Durham that afternoon preher, during his few hours in Paris, a tendency sented himself at the proud old house beto reproach herself for her lack of charity, yond the Seine. More than ever, in the and a desire, almost as fervent as his own, to semi-abandonment of the morle saison, with expiate it by exaggerated recognition of the reduced service, and shutters closed to the disinterestedness of her opponents—if op- silence of the high-walled court, did it ponents they could still be called. This sud- strike the American as the incorruptible den change in her attitude was peculiarly custodian of old prejudices and strange moving to Durham. He knew she would social survivals. The thought of what he hazard herself lightly enough wherever her must represent to the almost human conheart called her; but that, with the precious sciousness which such old houses seem to freight of her child's future weighing her possess, made him feel like a barbarian down, she should commit herself so blindly desecrating the silence of a temple of the to his hand stirred in him the depths of ten- earlier faith. Not that there was anything derness. Indeed, had the actual course of venerable in the attestations of the Hôtel events been less auspiciously regular, Ma- de Malrive, except in so far as, to a sensitive dame de Malrive's confidence would have imagination, every concrete embodiment of gone far toward unsettling his own; but with a past order of things tesifies to real convicthe process of law going on unimpeded, and tions once suffered for. Durham, at any the other side making no sign of open or rate, always alive in practical issues to the covert resistance, the fresh air of good faith view of the other side, had enough sympathy gradually swept through the inmost recesses left over to spend it sometimes, whimsically, of his distrust.
on such perceptions of difference. Today, It was expectedthat the decision in the especially, the assurance of success—the suit would be reached by mid-September; sense of entering like a victorious beleaguerand it was arranged that Durham and his er receiving the keys of the strongholdfamily should remain in England till a decent disposed him to a sentimental perception of interval after the conclusion of the proceed- what the other side might have to say for itings. Early in the month, however, it be- self, in the language of old portraits, old came necessary for Durham to go to France relics, old usages dumbly outraged by his to confer with a business associate who was mere presence. in Paris for a few days, and on the point of On the appearance of Madame de sailing for Cherbourg. The most zealous Treymes, however, such considerations
gave way to the immediate act of wonder “You withdraw your assent to my reing how she meant to carry off her share quest?” of the adventure. Durham had not for "By no means; but nothing consolatory gotten the note on which their last conver- you can find to say on that point can really sation had closed: the lapse of time serving make any difference.” only to give more precision and perspective “Will not the difference in my view of you to the impression he had then received. perhaps make a difference in your own?”
Madame de Treymes' first words implied She looked at him earnestly, without a a recognition of what was in his thoughts. trace of irony in her eyes or on her lips.
"It is extraordinary, my receiving you “It is really I who have an amende to make, here; but
voulez vous? There was no as I now understand the situation. I once other place, and I would do more than this turned to you for help in a painful extremfor our dear Fanny."
ity, and I have only now learned to underDurham bowed. “It seems to me that stand your reasons for refusing to help me." you are also doing a great deal for me." “Oh, my reasons
groaned Dur"Perhaps you will see later that I have ham. my reasons,” she returned smiling. “But “I have learned to understand them," before speaking for myself I must speak for she persisted, “by being so much, lately, Fanny."
with Fanny." She signed to him to take a chair near the “But I never told her!” he broke in. sofa-corner in which she had installed her “Exactly. That was what told me. I self, and he listened in silence while she de- understood you through her, and through livered Madame de Malrive's message, and your dealings with her. There she washer own report of the progress of affairs. the woman you adored and longed to save;
“You have put me still more deeply in and you would not lift a finger to make her your debt,” he said as she concluded; “I yours by means which would have seemed wish
you would make the expression of this -I see it now-a desecration of your feelfeeling a large part of the message I send ing for each other.” She paused, as if to back to Madame de Malrive."
find the exact words for meanings she had She brushed this aside with one of her never before had occasion to formulate. light gestures of deprecation. “Oh, I told “It came to me first-a light on your attiyou
I had my reasons. And since you are tude—when I found you had never breathed here—and the mere sight of you assures me to her a word of our talk together. She that you are as well as Fanny charged me to had confidently commissioned you to find a find you-with all these preliminaries dis- way for her, as the mediæval lady sent a posed of, I am going to relieve you, in a small prayer to her knight to deliver her from measure, of the weight of your obligation.” captivity, and you came back, confessing
Durham raised his head quickly. "By you had failed, but never justifying yourletting me do something in return?” self by so much as a hint of the reason why.
She made an assenting motion. “By ask- And when I had lived a little in Fanny's ining you to answer a question."
timacy—at a moment when circumstances “That seems very little to do."
helped to bring us extraordinarily close-I “Don't be so sure! It is never very little understood why you had done this; why you to your race.” She leaned back, studying had let her take what view she pleased of him through half-dropped lids.
your failure, your passive acceptance of de“Well, try me," he protested.
feat, rather than let her suspect the alternaShe did not immediately respond; and tive offered you. You couldn't, even with when she spoke, her first words were explan- my permission, betray to any one a hint of atory rather than interrogative.
my miserable secret, and you couldn't, for "I want to begin by saying that I believe your life's happiness, paythe particular price I once did you an injustice, to the extent of that I asked." She leaned toward him in misunderstanding your motive for a certain the intense, almost childlike, effort at full action."
expression. “Oh, we are of different races, Durham's uneasy flush confessed his rec- with a different point of honour; but I unognition of her meaning. “Ah, if we must derstand, I see, that you are good peoplego back to that
just simply, courageously good!”
She paused, and then said slowly:"Have She leaned forward, laying her hand on I understood you ? Have I put my hand his with just such a gesture as she had used on your motive ?"
to enforce her appeal in Mrs. Boykin's bouDurham sat speechless, subdued by the doir. The remembrance made him shrink rush of emotion which her words set free. slightly from her touch, and she drew back
“That, you understand, is my question, with a smile. she concluded with a faint smile; and he Have you never asked yourself,” she answered hesitatingly: “What can it mat- enquired, “why our family consented so ter, when the upshot is something I infi- readily to a divorce ?" nitely regret?”
“Yes, often," he replied, all his unformed “Having refused me? Don't !” She fears gathering in a dark throng about him. spoke with deep seriousness, bending her “But Fanny was so reassured, so convinced eyes full on his: "Ah, I have suffered that we owed it to your good officessuffered! But I have learned also—my She broke into a laugh. "My good offices! life has been enlarged. You see how I have Will you never, you Americans, learn that understood you both. And that is some- we do not act individually in such cases ? thing I should have been incapable of a few That we are all obedient to a common prinmonths ago."
ciple of authority?” Durham returned her look. “I can't " Then it was not you
- ?” think that you can ever have been incapa- She made an impatient shrugging motion. ble of any generous interpretation." “Oh, you are too confiding—it is the other
She uttered a slight exclamation, which side of your beautiful good faith!” resolved itself into a laugh of self-directed “The side you have taken advantage of, irony.
it appears?" "If you knew into what language I have "I-we-all of us. I especially!” she always translated life! But that,” she confessed. broke off, “is not what you are here to
“I think,” he returned gravely, “that I THERE was another pause, during which am here to learn the measure of Christian Durham tried to steady himself against the charity.”
shock of the impending revelation. It was She threw him a new, odd look. “Ah, an odd circumstance of the case that, though no—but to show it!” she exclaimed. Madame de Treymes' avowal of duplicity “To show it? And to whom?"
was fresh in his ears, he did not for a moShe paused for a moment, and then re- ment believe that she would deceive him joined, instead of answering: "Do you re- again. Whatever passed between them now member that day I talked with you at Fan- would go to the root of the matter. ny's? The day after you came back from The first thing that passed was the long Italy?”
look they exchanged: searching on his part, He made a motion of assent, and she tender, sad, undefinable on hers. As the went on: “You asked me then what return result of it he said: “Why, then, did you I expected for my service to you, as you consent to the divorce ?" called it; and I answered, the contempla- “To get the boy back," she answered intion of your happiness. Well, do you know stantly; and while he sat stunned by the unwhat that meant in my old language-the expectedness of the retort, she went on: “Is language I was still speaking then? It it possible you never suspected ? It has been meant that I knew there was horrible mis- our whole thought from the first. Everyery in store for you, and that I was wait- thing was planned with that object.” ing to feast my eyes on it: that's all!” He drew a sharp breath of alarm. “But
She had flung out the words with one of the divorce-how could that give him back her quick bursts of self-abandonment, like a to you?” fevered sufferer stripping the bandage from "It was the only thing that could. We a wound. Durham received them with a trembled lest the idea should occur to you. face blanching to the pallour of her own. But we were reasonably safe, for there has
“What misery do you mean?” he ex- only been one other case of the same kind claimed.
before the courts.' She leaned back, the
sight of his perplexity checking her quick have, and that proves precisely what I have rush of words. “You didn't know," she been trying to show you: that, in such cases, began again, “that in that case, on the re- the general course of events is considered, marriage of the mother, the courts instantly rather than the action of any one person.” restored the child to the father, though he “Then why is Madame de Malrive's achad-well, given as much cause for divorce ion to be considered ?" as my unfortunate brother?”
“Because it breaks up the unity of the Durham gave an ironic laugh. "Your family." French justice takes a grammar and dic- "Unity/broke from Durham; and tionary to understand.”
Madame de Treymes gently suffered his She smiled. “We understand it-and it smile. isn't necessary
“Of the family tradition, I mean: it in"So it would appear!” he exclaimed bit- troduces new elements. You are a new terly.
element." "Don't judge us too harshly-or not, at “Thank heaven!” said Durham again. least, tili you have taken the trouble to learn She looked at him singularly. “Yes-.. our point of view. You consider the indi- you may thank heaven. Why isn't it vidual-we think only of the family." enough to satisfy Fanny?”
“Why don't you take care to preserve it, “Why isn't what enough?” then ?"
'Your being, as I say, a new element; "Ah, that's what we do; in spite of every taking her so completely into a better air. aberration of the individual. And so, when Why shouldn't she be content to begin a we saw it was impossible that my brother new life with you, without wanting to keep and his wife should live together, we simply the boy too?” transferred our allegiance to the child-we Durham stared at her dumbly. “I don't constituted him the family."
know what you mean," he said at length. “A precious kindness you did him! If “I mean that in her place
” she broke the result is to give him back to his father.” off, dropping her eyes. “She may have an
“That, I admit, is to be deplored; but other son—the son of the man she adores.” his father is only a fraction of the whole. Durham rose from his seat and took a What we really do is to give him back to his quick turn through the room. She sat morace, his religion, his true place in the order tionless, following his steps through her lowof things.”
ered lashes, which she raised again slowly as “His mother never tried to deprive him he stood before her. of any of those inestimable advantages!” “Your idea, then, is that I should tell her
Madame de Treymes unclasped her hands nothing?" he said. with a slight gesture of deprecation.
“Tell her now? But, my poor friend, “Not consciously, perhaps; but silences you would be ruined!” and reserves
can teach so much. His “Exactly.” He paused. “Then why mother has another point of view
have you told me ?" “Thank heaven!” Durham interjected. Under her dark skin he saw the faint col
"Thank heaven for her-yes-perhaps; our stealing. “We see things so differently but it would not have done for the boy." --but can't you conceive that, after all that
Durham squared his shoulders with the has passed, I felt it a kind of loyalty not to sudden resolve of a man breaking through leave you in ignorance?” a throng of ugly phantoms.
“And you feel no such loyalty to her?” “You haven't yet convinced me that it “Ah, I leave her to you,” she murmured, won't have to do for him. At the time of looking down again. Madame de Malrive's separation, the court Durham continued to stand before her, made no difficulty about giving her the cus- grappling slowly with his perplexity, which tody of her son; and you must pardon me loomed larger and darker as it closed in on for reminding you that the father's unfit- him. ness was the reason alleged.”
“ You don't leave her to me; you take Madame de Treymes shrugged her shoul- her from me at a stroke! I suppose,” he ders. “And my poor brother, you would add, added painfully, “I ought to thank you for has not changed; but the circumstances doing it before it's too late."