Entire PG Edition of The Works of William Dean Howells
William Dean Howells
Part 67 out of 78
Rome, now, and I guess Mr. Gregory"--he nodded toward Gregory, who sat
silent and absent "will be kept under surveillance till the whole mystery
is cleared up."
Clementina responded gayly still, but with less and less sincerity, and
she let Hinkle go at last with the feeling that he knew she wished him to
go. He made a brave show of not seeing this, and when he was gone, she
remembered that she had not thanked him for the trouble he had taken on
her account, and her heart ached after him with a sense of his sweetness
and goodness, which she had felt from the first through his quaint
drolling. It was as if the door which closed upon him shut her out of
the life she had been living of late, and into the life of the past where
she was subject again to the spell of Gregory's mood; it was hardly his
He began at once: "I wished to make you say something this morning that I
have no right to hear you say, yet; and I have been trying ever since to
think how I could ask you whether you could share my life with me, and
yet not ask you to do it. But I can't do anything without knowing--
You may not care for what my life is to be, at all!"
Clementina's head drooped a little, but she answered distinctly, "I do
ca'e, Mr. Gregory."
"Thank you for that much; I don't count upon more than you have said.
Clementina, I am going to be a missionary. I think I shall ask to be
sent to China; I've not decided yet. My life will be hard; it will be
full of danger and privation; it will be exile. You will have to think
of sharing such a life if you think"--
He stopped; the time had come for her to speak, and she said, "I knew you
wanted to be a missionary"--
"And--and--you would go with me? You would"--He started toward her, and
she did not shrink from him, now; but he checked himself. "But you
mustn't, you know, for my sake."
"I don't believe I quite undastand," she faltered.
"You must not do it for me, but for what makes me do it. Without that
our life, our work, could have no consecration."
She gazed at him in patient, faintly smiling bewilderment, as if it were
something he would unriddle for her when he chose.
"We mustn't err in this; it would be worse than error; it would be sin."
He took a turn about the room, and then stopped before her. "Will you--
will you join me in a prayer for guidance, Clementina?"
"I--I don't know," she hesitated. "I will, but--do you think I had
He began, "Why, surely"--After a moment he asked gravely, "You believe
that our actions will be guided aright, if we seek help?"
"And that if we do not, we shall stumble in our ignorance?"
"I don't know. I never thought of that."
"Never thought of it"--
"We never did it in our family. Father always said that if we really
wanted to do right we could find the way." Gregory looked daunted, and
then he frowned darkly. "Are you provoked with me? Do you think what
I have said is wrong?"
"No, no! You must say what you believe. It would be double hypocrisy in
me if I prevented you."
"But I would do it, if you wanted me to," she said.
"Oh, for me, for ME!" he protested. "I will try to tell you what I mean,
and why you must not, for that very reason." But he had to speak of
himself, of the miracle of finding her again by the means which should
have lost her to him forever; and of the significance of this. Then it
appeared to him that he could not reject such a leading without error,
without sin. "Such a thing could not have merely happened."
It seemed so to Clementina, too; she eagerly consented that this was
something they must think of, as well. But the light waned, the dark
thickened in the room before he left her to do so. Then he said
fervently, "We must not doubt that everything will come right," and his
words seemed an effect of inspiration to them both.
After Gregory was gone a misgiving began in Clementina's mind, which grew
more distinct, through all the difficulties of accounting to Mrs. Lander
for his long stay, The girl could see that it was with an obscure
jealousy that she pushed her questions, and said at last, "That Mr.
Hinkle is about the best of the lot. He's the only one that's eva had
the mannas to ask after me, except that lo'd. He did."
Clementina could not pretend that Gregory had asked, but she could not
blame him for a forgetfulness of Mrs. Lander which she had shared with
him. This helped somehow to deepen the misgiving which followed her from
Mrs. Lander's bed to her own, and haunted her far into the night. She
could escape from it only by promising herself to deal with it the first
thing in the morning. She did this in terms much briefer than she
thought she could have commanded. She supposed she would have to write a
very long letter, but she came to the end of all she need say, in a very
DEAR MR. GREGORY:
"I have been thinking about what you said yesterday, and I have to
tell you something. Then you can do what is right for both of us;
you will know better than I can. But I want you to understand that
if I go with you in your missionary life, I shall do it for you, and
not for anything else. I would go anywhere and live anyhow for you,
but it would be for you; I do not believe that I am religious, and I
know that I should not do it for religion.
"That is all; but I could not get any peace till I let you know just
how I felt.
The letter went early in the morning, though not so early but it was put
in Gregory's hand as he was leaving his hotel to go to Mrs. Lander's. He
tore it open, and read it on the way, and for the first moment it seemed
as if it were Providence leading him that he might lighten Clementina's
heart of its doubts with the least delay. He had reasoned that if she
would share for his sake the life that he should live for righteousness'
sake they would be equally blest in it, and it would be equally
consecrated in both. But this luminous conclusion faded in his thought
as he hurried on, and he found himself in her presence with something
like a hope that she would be inspired to help him.
His soul lifted at the sound of the gay voice in which she asked, "Did
you get my letta?" and it seemed for the instant as if there could be no
trouble that their love could not overcome.
"Yes," he said, and he put his arms around her, but with a provisionality
in his embrace which she subtly perceived.
"And what did you think of it?" she asked. "Did you think I was silly?"
He was aware that she had trusted him to do away her misgiving. "No,
no," he answered, guiltily. "Wiser than I am, always. I--I want to talk
with you about it, Clementina. I want you to advise me."
He felt her shrink from him, and with a pang he opened his arms to free
her. But it was right; he must. She had been expecting him to say that
there was nothing in her misgiving, and he could not say it.
"Clementina," he entreated, "why do you think you are not religious?"
"Why, I have never belonged to chu'ch," she answered simply. He looked
so daunted, that she tried to soften the blow after she had dealt it.
"Of course, I always went to chu'ch, though father and motha didn't.
I went to the Episcopal--to Mr. Richling's. But I neva was confirmed."
"But-you believe in God?"
"And in the Bible?"
"Why, of cou'se!"
"And that it is our duty to bear the truth to those who have never heard
"I know that is the way you feel about it; but I am not certain that I
should feel so myself if you didn't want me to. That's what I got to
thinking about last night." She added hopefully, "But perhaps it isn't
so great a thing as I"--
"It's a very great thing," he said, and from standing in front of her, he
now sat down beyond a little table before her sofa. "How can I ask you
to share my life if you don't share my faith?"
"Why, I should try to believe everything that you do, of cou'se."
"Because I do?"
"You wring my heart! Are you willing to study--to look into these
questions--to--to"--It all seemed very hopeless, very absurd, but she
"Yes, but I believe it would all come back to just where it is, now."
"What you say, Clementina, makes me so happy; but it ought to make me--
miserable! And you would do all this, be all this for me, a wretched and
erring creature of the dust, and yet not do it for--God?"
Clementina could only say, "Perhaps if He meant me to do it for Him, He
would have made me want to. He made you."
"Yes," said Gregory, and for a long time he could not say any more. He
sat with his elbow on the table, and his head against his lifted hand.
"You see," she began, gently, "I got to thinking that even if I eva came
to believe what you wanted me to, I should be doing it after all, because
you wanted me to"--
"Yes, yes," he answered, desolately. "There is no way out of it. If you
only hated me, Clementina, despised me--I don't mean that. But if you
were not so good, I could have a more hope for you--for myself. It's
because you are so good that I can't make myself wish to change you, and
yet I know--I am afraid that if you told me my life and objects were
wrong, I should turn from them, and be whatever you said. Do you tell me
"No, indeed!" cried Clementina, with abhorrence. "Then I should despise
He seemed not to heed her. He moved his lips as if he were talking to
himself, and he pleaded, "What shall we do?"
"We must try to think it out, and if we can't--if you can't let me give
up to you unless I do it for the same reason that you do; and if I can't
let you give up for me, and I know I could neva do that; then--
"Do you mean, we must part? Not see each other again?"
"What use would it be?"
"None," he owned. She had risen, and he stood up perforce. "May I--may
I come back to tell you?"
"Tell me what?" she asked.
"You are right! If I can't make it right, I won't come. But I won't say
good bye. I--can't."
She let him go, and Maddalena came in at the door. "Signorina," she
said, "the signora is not well. Shall I send for the doctor?"
"Yes, yes, Maddalena. Run!" cried Clementina, distractedly. She hurried
to Mrs. Lander's room, where she found her too sick for reproaches, for
anything but appeals for help and pity. The girl had not to wait for
Doctor Welwright's coming to understand that the attack was severer than
It lasted through the day, and she could see that he was troubled. It
had not followed upon any imprudeuce, as Mrs. Lander pathetically called
Clementina to witness when her pain had been so far quelled that she
could talk of her seizure.
He found her greatly weakened by it the next day, and he sat looking
thoughtfully at her before he said that she needed toning up. She caught
at the notion. "Yes, yes! That's what I need, docta! Toning up!
That's what I need."
He suggested, "How would you like to try the sea air, and the baths--at
"Oh, anything, anywhere, to get out of this dreadful hole! I ha'n't had
a well minute since I came. And Clementina," the sick woman whimpered,
"is so taken up all the time, he'a, that I can't get the right
The doctor looked compassionately away from the girl, and said, "Well,
we must arrange about getting you off, then."
"But I want you should go with me, doctor, and see me settled all right.
You can, can't you? I sha'n't ca'e how much it costs?"
The doctor said gravely he thought he could manage it and he ignored the
long unconscious sigh of relief that Clementina drew.
In all her confusing anxieties for Mrs. Lander, Gregory remained at the
bottom of her heart a dumb ache. When the pressure of her fears was
taken from her she began to suffer for him consciously; then a letter
came from him:
"I cannot make it right. It is where it was, and I feel that I must
not see you again. I am trying to do right, but with the fear that
I am wrong. Send some word to help me before I go away to-morrow.
It was what she had expected, she knew now, but it was none the less to
be borne because of her expectation. She wrote back:
"I believe you are doing the best you can, and I shall always
Her note brought back a long letter from him. He said that whatever he
did, or wherever he went, he should try to be true to her ideal of him.
If they renounced their love now for the sake of what seemed higher than
their love, they might suffer, but they could not choose but do as they
Clementina was trying to make what she could of this when Miss Milray's
name came up, and Miss Milray followed it.
"I wanted to ask after Mrs. Lander, and I want you to tell her I did.
Will you? Dr. Welwright says he's going to take her to Venice. Well,
I'm sorry--sorry for your going, Clementina, and I'm truly sorry for the
cause of it. I shall miss you, my dear, I shall indeed. You know I
always wanted to steal you, but you'll do me the justice to say I never
did, and I won't try, now."
"Perhaps I wasn't worth stealing," Clementina suggested, with a
ruefulness in her smile that went to Miss Milray's heart.
She put her arms round her and kissed her. I wasn't very kind to you, the
other day, Clementina, was I?"
"I don't know," Clementina faltered, with half-averted face.
"Yes, you do! I was trying to make-believe that I didn't want to meddle
with your affairs; but I was really vexed that you hadn't told me your
story before. It hasn't taken me all this time to reflect that you
couldn't, but it has to make myself come and confess that I had been dry
and cold with you." She hesitated. "It's come out all right, hasn't it,
Clementina?" she asked, tenderly. "You see I want to meddle, now."
"We ah' trying to think so," sighed the girl.
"Tell me about it!" Miss Milray pulled her down on the sofa with her, and
modified her embrace to a clasp of Clementina's bands.
"Why, there isn't much to tell," she began, but she told what there was,
and Miss Milray kept her countenance concerning the scruple that had
parted Clementina and her lover. "Perhaps he wouldn't have thought of
it," she said, in a final self-reproach, if I hadn't put it into his
"Well, then, I'm not sorry you put it into his head," cried Miss Milray.
"Clementina, may I say what I think of Mr. Gregory's performance?"
"Why, certainly, Miss Milray!"
I think he's not merely a gloomy little bigot, but a very hard-hearted
little wretch, and I'm glad you're rid of him. No, stop! Let me go on!
You said I might! she persisted, at a protest which imparted itself from
Clementina's restive hands. "It was selfish and cruel of him to let you
believe that he had forgotten you. It doesn't make it right now, when an
accident has forced him to tell you that he cared for you all along."
"Why, do you look at it that way, Miss Milray? If he was doing it on my
"He may think he was doing it on your account, but I think he was doing
it on his own. In such a thing as that, a man is bound by his mistakes,
if he has made any. He can't go back of them by simply ignoring them.
It didn't make it the same for you when he decided for your sake that he
would act as if he had never spoken to you."
"I presume he thought that it would come right, sometime," Clementina
urged. "I did."
"Yes, that was very well for you, but it wasn't at all well for him. He
behaved cruelly; there's no other word for it."
"I don't believe he meant to be cruel, Miss Milray," said Clementina.
"You're not sorry you've broken with him?" demanded Miss Milray,
severely, and she let go of Clementina's hands.
"I shouldn't want him to think I hadn't been fai'a."
"I don't understand what you mean by not being fair," said Miss Milray,
after a study of the girl's eyes.
"I mean," Clementina explained, "that if I let him think the religion was
all the'e was, it wouldn't have been fai'a."
Why, weren't you sincere about that?"
"Of cou'se I was!" returned the girl, almost indignantly. "But if the'e
was anything else, I ought to have told him that, too; and I couldn't."
"Then you can't tell me, of course?" Miss Milray rose in a little pique.
"Perhaps some day I will," the girl entreated. "And perhaps that was
Miss Milray laughed. "Well, if that was enough to end it, I'm satisfied,
and I'll let you keep your mystery--if it is one--till we meet in Venice;
I shall be there early in June. Good bye, dear, and say good bye to Mrs.
Lander for me."
Dr. Welwright got his patient a lodging on the Grand Canal in Venice, and
decided to stay long enough to note the first effect of the air and the
baths, and to look up a doctor to leave her with.
This took something more than a week, which could not all be spent in
Mrs. Lander's company, much as she wished it. There were hours which he
gave to going about in a gondola with Clementina, whom he forbade to be
always at the invalid's side. He tried to reassure her as to Mrs.
Lander's health, when be found her rather mute and absent, while they
drifted in the silvery sun of the late April weather, just beginning to
be warm, but not warm enough yet for the tent of the open gondola. He
asked her about Mrs. Lander's family, and Clementina could only tell him
that she had always said she had none. She told him the story of her own
relation to her, and he said, "Yes, I heard something of that from Miss
Milray." After a moment of silence, during which he looked curiously
into the girl's eyes, "Do you think you can bear a little more care, Miss
"I think I can," said Clementina, not very courageously, but patiently.
"It's only this, and I wouldn't tell you if I hadn't thought you equal to
it. Mrs. Lander's case puzzles me: But I shall leave Dr. Tradonico
watching it, and if it takes the turn that there's a chance it may take,
he will tell you, and you'd better find out about her friends, and--let
them know. That's all."
"Yes," said Clementina, as if it were not quite enough. Perhaps she did
not fully realize all that the doctor had intended; life alone is
credible to the young; life and the expectation of it.
The night before he was to return to Florence there was a full moon; and
when he had got Mrs. Lander to sleep he asked Clementina if she would not
go out on the lagoon with him. He assigned no peculiar virtue to the
moonlight, and he had no new charge to give her concerning his patient
when they were embarked. He seemed to wish her to talk about herself,
and when she strayed from the topic, he prompted her return. Then he
wished to know how she liked Florence, as compared with Venice, and all
the other cities she had seen, and when she said she had not seen any but
Boston and New York, and London for one night, he wished to know whether
she liked Florence as well. She said she liked it best of all, and he
told her he was very glad, for he liked it himself better than any place
he had ever seen. He spoke of his family in America, which was formed of
grownup brothers and sisters, so that he had none of the closest and
tenderest ties obliging him to return; there was no reason why he should
not spend all his days in Florence, except for some brief visits home.
It would be another thing with such a place as Venice; he could never
have the same settled feeling there: it was beautiful, but it was unreal;
it would be like spending one's life at the opera. Did not she think so?
She thought so, oh, yes; she never could have the home-feeling at Venice
that she had at Florence.
"Exactly; that's what I meant--a home-feeling; I'm glad you had it." He
let the gondola dip and slide forward almost a minute before he added,
with an effect of pulling a voice up out of his throat somewhere, "How
would you like to live there--with me--as my wife?"
"Why, what do you mean, Dr. Welwright?" asked Clementina, with a vague
Dr. Welwright laughed, too; but not vaguely; there was a mounting
cheerfulness in his laugh. "What I say. I hope it isn't very
"No; but I never thought of such a thing."
"Perhaps you will think of it now."
"But you're not in ea'nest!"
"I'm thoroughly in earnest," said the doctor, and he seemed very much
amused at her incredulity.
"Then; I'm sorry," she answered. "I couldn't."
"No?" he said, still with amusement, or with a courage that took that
form. "Why not?"
"Because I am--not free."
For an interval they were so silent that they could hear each other
breathe: Then, after be had quietly bidden the gondolier go back to their
hotel, he asked, "If you had been free you might have answered me
"I don't know," said Clementina, candidly. "I never thought of it."
"It isn't because you disliked me?"
"Then I must get what comfort I can out of that. I hope, with all my
heart, that you may be happy."
"Why, Dr. Welwright!" said Clementina. "Don't you suppose that I should
be glad to do it, if I could? Any one would!"
"It doesn't seem very probable, just now," he answered, humbly.
"But I'll believe it if you say so."
"I do say so, and I always shall."
Dr. Welwright professed himself ready for his departure, at breakfast
next morning and he must have made his preparations very late or very
early. He was explicit in his charges to Clementina concerning Mrs.
Lander, and at the end of them, he said, "She will not know when she is
asking too much of you, but you will, and you must act upon your
knowledge. And remember, if you are in need of help, of any kind, you're
to let me know. Will you?"
"Yes, I will, Dr. Welwright."
"People will be going away soon, and I shall not be so busy. I can come
back if Dr. Tradonico thinks it necessary."
He left Mrs. Lander full of resolutions to look after her own welfare in
every way, and she went out in her gondola the same morning. She was not
only to take the air as much as possible, but she was to amuse herself,
and she decided that she would have her second breakfast at the Caffe
Florian. Venice was beginning to fill up with arrivals from the south,
and it need not have been so surprising to find Mr. Hinkle there over a
cup of coffee. He said he had just that moment been thinking of her, and
meaning to look her up at the hotel. He said that he had stopped at
Venice because it was such a splendid place to introduce his gleaner; he
invited Mrs. Lander to become a partner in the enterprise; he promised
her a return of fifty per cent. on her investment. If he could once
introduce his gleaner in Venice, he should be a made man. He asked Mrs.
Lander, with real feeling, how she was; as for Miss Clementina, he need
"Oh, indeed, the docta thinks she wants a little lookin' after, too,"
said Mrs. Lander.
"Well, about as much as you do, Mrs. Lander," Hinkle allowed, tolerantly.
"I don't know how it affects you, ma'am, such a meeting of friends in
these strange waters, but it's building me right up. It's made another
man of me, already, and I've got the other man's appetite, too. Mind my
letting him have his breakfast here with me at your table?" He bade the
waiter just fetch his plate. He attached himself to them; he spent the
day with them. Mrs. Lander asked him to dinner at her lodgings, and left
him to Clementina over the coffee.
"She's looking fine, doesn't the doctor think? This air will do
everything for her."
"Oh, yes; she's a great deal betta than she was befo'e we came."
"That's right. Well, now, you've got me here, you must let me make
myself useful any way I can. I've got a spare month that I can put in
here in Venice, just as well as not; I sha'n't want to push north till
the frost's out of the ground. They wouldn't have a chance to try my
gleaner, on the other side of the Alps much before September, anyway.
Now, in Ohio, the part I come from, we cut our wheat in June. When is
your wheat harvest at Middlemount?"
Clementina laughed. "I don't believe we've got any. I guess it's all
"I wish you could see our country out there, once."
"Is it nice?"
"Nice? We're right in the centre of the state, measuring from north to
south, on the old National Road." Clementina had never heard of this
road, but she did not say so. "About five miles back from the Ohio
River, where the coal comes up out of the ground, because there's so much
of it there's no room for it below. Our farm's in a valley, along a
creek bottom, what you Yankees call an intervals; we've got three hundred
acres. My grandfather took up the land, and then he went back to
Pennsylvania to get the girl he'd left there--we were Pennsylvania Dutch;
that's where I got my romantic name--they drove all the way out to Ohio
again in his buggy, and when he came in sight of our valley with his
bride, he stood up in his buggy and pointed with his whip. 'There! As
far as the sky is blue, it's all ours!'"
Clementina owned the charm of his story as he seemed to expect, but when
he said, "Yes, I want you to see that country, some day," she answered
"It must be lovely. But I don't expect to go West, eva."
"I like your Eastern way of saying everr," said Hinkle, and he said it in
his Western way. "I like New England folks."
Clementina smiled discreetly. "They have their faults like everybody
else, I presume."
"Ah, that's a regular Yankee word: presume," said Hinkle. "Our teacher,
my first one, always said presume. She was from your State, too."
In the time of provisional quiet that followed for Clementina, she was
held from the remorses and misgivings that had troubled her before Hinkle
came. She still thought that she had let Dr. Welwright go away believing
that she had not cared enough for the offer which had surprised her so
much, and she blamed herself for not telling him how doubly bound she was
to Gregory; though when she tried to put her sense of this in words to
herself she could not make out that she was any more bound to him than
she had been before they met in Florence, unless she wished to be so.
Yet somehow in this time of respite, neither the regret for Dr. Welwright
nor the question of Gregory persisted very strongly, and there were whole
days when she realized before she slept that she had not thought of
She was in full favor again with Mrs. Lander, whom there was no one to
embitter in her jealous affection. Hinkle formed their whole social
world, and Mrs. Lander made the most of him. She was always having him
to the dinners which her landlord served her from a restaurant in her
apartment, and taking him out with Clementina in her gondola. He came
into a kind of authority with them both which was as involuntary with him
as with them, and was like an effect of his constant wish to be doing
something for them.
One morning when they were all going out in Mrs. Lander's gondola, she
sent Clementina back three times to their rooms for outer garments of
differing density. When she brought the last Mrs. Lander frowned.
"This won't do. I've got to have something else--something lighter and
"I can't go back any moa, Mrs. Landa," cried the girl, from the
exasperation of her own nerves.
"Then I will go back myself," said Mrs. Lander with dignity, "and we
sha'n't need the gondoler any more this mo'ning," she added, "unless you
and Mr. Hinkle wants to ride."
She got ponderously out of the boat with the help of the gondolier's
elbow, and marched into the house again, while Clementina followed her.
She did not offer to help her up the stairs; Hinkle had to do it, and he
met the girl slowly coming up as he returned from delivering Mrs. Lander
over to Maddalena.
"She's all right, now," he ventured to say, tentatively.
"Is she?" Clementina coldly answered.
In spite of her repellent air, he persisted, "She's a pretty sick woman,
"The docta doesn't say."
"Well, I think it would be safe to act on that supposition. Miss
Clementina--I think she wants to see you."
"I'm going to her directly."
Hinkle paused, rather daunted. "She wants me to go for the doctor."
"She's always wanting the docta." Clementina lifted her eyes and looked
very coldly at him.
"If I were you I'd go up right away," he said, boldly.
She felt that she ought to resent his interference, but the mild entreaty
of his pale blue eyes, or the elder-brotherly injunction of his smile,
forbade her. "Did she ask for me?"
"I'll go to her," she said, and she kept herself from smiling at the long
sigh of relief he gave as she passed him on the stairs.
Mrs. Lander began as soon as she entered her room, "Well, I was just
wonderin' if you was goin' to leave me here all day alone, while you
staid down the'e, carryin' on with that simpleton. I don't know what's
got into the men."
"Mr. Hinkle has gone for the docta," said Clementina, trying to get into
her voice the kindness she was trying to feel.
"Well, if I have one of my attacks, now, you'll have yourself to thank
By the time Dr. Tradonico appeared Mrs. Lander was so much better that in
her revulsion of feeling she was all day rather tryingly affectionate in
her indirect appeals for Clementina's sympathy.
"I don't want you should mind what I say, when I a'n't feelin' just
right," she began that evening, after she had gone to bed, and Clementina
sat looking out of the open window, on the moonlit lagoon.
"Oh, no," the girl answered, wearily.
Mrs. Lander humbled herself farther. "I'm real sorry I plagued you so,
to-day, and I know Mr. Hinkle thought I was dreadful, but I couldn't help
it. I should like to talk with you, Clementina, about something that's
worryin' me, if you a'n't busy."
"I'm not busy, now, Mrs. Lander," said Clementina, a little coldly, and
relaxing the clasp of her hands; to knit her fingers together had been
her sole business, and she put even this away,
She did not come nearer the bed, and Mrs. Lander was obliged to speak
without the advantage of noting the effect of her words upon her in her
face. "It's like this: What am I agoin' to do for them relations of Mr.
Landa's out in Michigan?"
"I don't know. What relations?"
"I told you about 'em: the only ones he's got: his half-sista's children.
He neva saw 'em, and he neva wanted to; but they're his kin, and it was
his money. It don't seem right to pass 'em ova. Do you think it would
"Why, of cou'se not, Mrs. Lander. It wouldn't be right at all."
Mrs. Lander looked relieved, and she said, as if a little surprised, "I'm
glad you feel that way; I should feel just so, myself. I mean to do by
you just what I always said I should. I sha'n't forget you, but whe'e
the'e's so much I got to thinkin' the'e'd ought to some of it go to his
folks, whetha he ca'ed for 'em or not. It's worried me some, and I guess
if anything it's that that's made me wo'se lately."
"Why by Mrs. Landa," said the girl, "Why don't you give it all to them?"
"You don't know what you'a talkin' about," said Mrs. Lander, severely." I
guess if I give 'em five thousand or so amongst'em, it's full moa than
they eve thought of havin', and it's moa than they got any right to.
Well, that's all right, then; and we don't need to talk about it any moa.
Yes," she resumed, after a moment, "that's what I shall do. I hu'n't eva
felt just satisfied with that last will I got made, and I guess I shall
tear it up, and get the fust American lawyer that comes along to make me
a new one. The prop'ty's all goin' to you, but I guess I shall leave
five thousand apiece to the two families out the'e. You won't miss it,
any, and I presume it's what Mr. Landa would expect I should do; though
why he didn't do it himself, I can't undastand, unless it was to show his
confidence in me."
She began to ask Clementina how she felt about staying in Venice all
summer; she said she had got so much better there already that she
believed she should be well by fall if she stayed on. She was certain
that it would put her all back if she were to travel now, and in Europe,
where it was so hard to know how to get to places, she did not see how
they could pick out any that would suit them as well as Venice did.
Clementina agreed to it all, more or less absentmindedly, as she sat
looking into the moonlight, and the day that had begun so stormily ended
in kindness between them.
The next morning Mrs. Lander did not wish to go out, and she sent
Clementina and Hinkle together as a proof that they were all on good
terms again. She did not spare the girl this explanation in his
presence, and when they were in the gondola he felt that he had to say,
"I was afraid you might think I was rather meddlesome yesterday."
"Oh, no," she answered. "I was glad you did."
"Yes," he returned, "I thought you would be afterwards." He looked at
her wistfully with his slanted eyes and his odd twisted smile and they
both gave way in the same conscious laugh. "What I like," he explained
further, "is to be understood when I've said something that doesn't mean
anything, don't you? You know anybody can understand you if you really
mean something; but most of the time you don't, and that's when a friend
is useful. I wish you'd call on me if you're ever in that fix."
"Oh, I will, Mr. Hinkle," Clementina promised, gayly.
"Thank you," he said, and her gayety seemed to turn him graver. "Miss
Clementina, might I go a little further in this direction, without
"What direction?" she added, with a flush of sudden alarm.
"Why, suttainly!" she answered, in quick relief.
"I wish you'd let me do some of the worrying about her for you, while I'm
here. You know I haven't got anything else to do!"
"Why, I don't believe I worry much. I'm afraid I fo'get about her when
I'm not with her. That's the wo'st of it."
"No, no," he entreated, "that's the best of it. But I want to do the
worrying for you even when you're with her. Will you let me?"
"Why, if you want to so very much."
"Then it's settled," he said, dismissing the subject.
But she recurred to it with a lingering compunction.
"I presume that I don't remember how sick she is because I've neva been
sick at all, myself."
"Well," he returned, "You needn't be sorry for that altogether. There
are worse things than being well, though sick people don't always think
so. I've wasted a good deal of time the other way, though I've reformed,
They went on to talk about themselves; sometimes they talked about
others, in excursions which were more or less perfunctory, and were
merely in the way of illustration or instance. She got so far in one of
these as to speak of her family, and he seemed to understand them. He
asked about them all, and he said he believed in her father's unworldly
theory of life. He asked her if they thought at home that she was like
her father, and he added, as if it followed, "I'm the worldling of my
family. I was the youngest child, and the only boy in a flock of girls.
That always spoils a boy."
"Are you spoiled?" she asked.
"Well, I'm afraid they'd be surprised if I didn't come to grief somehow--
all but--mother; she expects I'll be kept from harm."
"Is she religious?"
"Yes, she's a Moravian. Did you ever hear of them?" Clementina shook
her head. "They're something, like the Quakers, and something like the
Methodists. They don't believe in war; but they have bishops."
"And do you belong to her church?"
"No," said the young man. "I wish I did, for her sake. I don't belong to
any. Do you?"
"No, I go to the Episcopal, at home. Perhaps I shall belong sometime.
But I think that is something everyone must do for themselves." He
looked a little alarmed at the note of severity in her voice, and she
explained. "I mean that if you try to be religious for anything besides
religion, it isn't being religious;--and no one else has any right to ask
you to be."
"Oh, that's what I believe, too," he said, with comic relief. "I didn't
know but I'd been trying to convert you without knowing it." They both
laughed, and were then rather seriously silent.
He asked, after a moment, in a fresh beginning, "Have you heard from Miss
Milray since you left Florence?"
"Oh, yes, didn't I tell you? She's coming here in June."
"Well, she won't have the pleasure of seeing me, then. I'm going the
last of May."
"I thought you were going to stay a month!" she protested.
"That will be a month; and more, too."
"So it will," she owned.
"I'm glad it doesn't seem any longer-say a year--Miss Clementina!"
"Oh, not at all," she returned. "Miss Milray's brother and his wife are
coming with her. They've been in Egypt."
"I never saw them," said Hinkle. He paused, before he added, "Well, it
would seem rather crowded after they get here, I suppose," and he
laughed, while Clementina said nothing.
Hinkle came every morning now, to smoothe out the doubts and difficulties
that had accumulated in Mrs. Lander's mind over night, and incidentally
to propose some pleasure for Clementina, who could feel that he was
pitying her in her slavery to the sick woman's whims, and yet somehow
entreating her to bear them. He saw them together in what Mrs. Lander
called her well days; but there were other days when he saw Clementina
alone, and then she brought him word from Mrs. Lander, and reported his
talk to her after he went away. On one of these she sent him a
cheerfuller message than usual, and charged the girl to explain that she
was ever so much better, but had not got up because she felt that every
minute in bed was doing her good. Clementina carried back his regrets
and congratulation, and then told Mrs. Lander that he had asked her to go
out with him to see a church, which he was sorry Mrs. Lander could not
see too. He professed to be very particular about his churches, for he
said he had noticed that they neither of them had any great gift for
sights, and he had it on his conscience to get the best for them. He
told Clementina that the church he had for them now could not be better
if it had been built expressly for them, instead of having been used as a
place of worship for eight or ten generations of Venetians before they
came. She gave his invitation to Mrs. Lander, who could not always be
trusted with his jokes, and she received it in the best part.
"Well, you go!" she said. "Maddalena can look after me, I guess. He's
the only one of the fellas, except that lo'd, that I'd give a cent for."
She added, with a sudden lapse from her pleasure in Hinkle to her
severity with Clementina, "But you want to be ca'eful what you' doin'."
"Yes!--About Mr. Hinkle. I a'n't agoin' to have you lead him on, and
then say you didn't know where he was goin'. I can't keep runnin' away
everywhe'e, fo' you, the way I done at Woodlake."
Clementina's heart gave a leap, whether joyful or woeful; but she
answered indignantly, "How can you say such a thing to me, Mrs. Lander.
I'm not leading him on!"
"I don't know what you call it. You're round with him in the gondoler,
night and day, and when he's he'e, you'a settin' with him half the time
on the balcony, and it's talk, talk, the whole while." Clementina took
in the fact with silent recognition, and Mrs. Lander went on. "I ain't
sayin' anything against it. He's the only one I don't believe is afta
the money he thinks you'a goin' to have; but if you don't want him, you
want to look what you're about."
The girl returned to Hinkle in the embarrassment which she was helpless
to hide, and without the excuse which she could not invent for refusing
to go with him. "Is Mrs. Lander worse--or anything?" he asked.
"Oh, no. She's quite well," said Clementina; but she left it for him to
break the constraint in which they set out. He tried to do so at
different points, but it seemed to close upon them--the more inflexibly.
At last he asked, as they were drawing near the church, "Have you ever
seen anything of Mr. Belsky since you left Florence?"
"No," she said, with a nervous start. "What makes you ask?"
"I don't know. But you see nearly everybody again that you meet in your
travels. That friend of his--that Mr. Gregory--he seems to have dropped
out, too. I believe you told me you used to know him in America."
"Yes," she answered, briefly; she could not say more; and Hinkle went on.
"It seemed to me, that as far as I could make him out, he was about as
much of a crank in his way as the Russian. It's curious, but when you
were talking about religion, the other day, you made me think of him!"
The blood went to Clementina's heart. "I don't suppose you had him in
mind, but what you said fitted him more than anyone I know of. I could
have almost believed that he had been trying to convert you!" She stared
at him, and he laughed. "He tackled me one day there in Florence all of
a sudden, and I didn't know what to say, exactly. Of course, I respected
his earnestness; but I couldn't accept his view of things and I tried to
tell him so. I had to say just where I stood, and why, and I mentioned
some books that helped to get me there. He said he never read anything
that went counter to his faith; and I saw that he didn't want to save me,
so much as be wanted to convince me. He didn't know it, and I didn't
tell him that I knew it, but I got him to let me drop the subject. He
seems to have been left over from a time when people didn't reason about
their beliefs, but only argued. I didn't think there was a man like that
to be found so late in the century, especially a young man. But that was
just where I was mistaken. If there was to be a man of that kind at all,
it would have to be a young one. He'll be a good deal opener-minded when
he's older. He was conscientious; I could see that; and he did take the
Russian's death to heart as long as he was dead. But I'd like to talk
with him ten years from now; he wouldn't be where he is."
Clementina was still silent, and she walked up the church steps from the
gondola without the power to speak. She made no show of interest in the
pictures and statues; she never had really cared much for such things,
and now his attempts to make her look at them failed miserably. When
they got back again into the boat he began, "Miss Clementina, I'm afraid
I oughtn't to have spoken as I did of that Mr. Gregory. If he is a
friend of yours"--
"He is," she made herself answer.
"I didn't mean anything against him. I hope you don't think I wanted to
"You were not unfair. But I oughtn't to have let you say it, Mr. Hinkle.
I want to tell you something--I mean, I must"--She found herself panting
and breathless. "You ought to know it--Mr. Gregory is--I mean we are"--
She stopped and she saw that she need not say more.
In the days that followed before the time that Hinkle had $xed to leave
Venice, he tried to come as he had been coming, to see Mrs. Lander, but
he evaded her when she wished to send him out with Clementina. His
quaintness had a heartache in it for her; and he was boyishly simple in
his failure to hide his suffering. He had no explicit right to suffer,
for he had asked nothing and been denied nothing, but perhaps for this
reason she suffered the more keenly for him.
A senseless resentment against Gregory for spoiling their happiness crept
into her heart; and she wished to show Hinkle how much she valued his
friendship at any risk and any cost. When this led her too far she took
herself to task with a severity which hurt him too. In the midst of the
impulses on which she acted, there were times when she had a confused
longing to appeal to him for counsel as to how she ought to behave toward
There was no one else whom she could appeal to. Mrs. Lander, after her
first warning, had not spoken of him again, though Clementina could feel
in the grimness with which she regarded her variable treatment of him
that she was silently hoarding up a sum of inculpation which would crush
her under its weight when it should fall upon her. She seemed to be
growing constantly better, now, and as the interval since her last attack
widened behind her, she began to indulge her appetite with a recklessness
which Clementina, in a sense of her own unworthiness, was helpless to
deal with. When she ventured to ask her once whether she ought to eat of
something that was very unwholesome for her, Mrs. Lander answered that
she had taken her case into her own hands, now, for she knew more about
it than all the doctors. She would thank Clementina not to bother about
her; she added that she was at least not hurting anybody but herself, and
she hoped Clementina would always be able to say as much.
Clementina wished that Hinkle would go away, but not before she had
righted herself with him, and he lingered his month out, and seemed as
little able to go as she to let him. She had often to be cheerful for
both, when she found it too much to be cheerful for herself. In his
absence she feigned free and open talks with him, and explained
everything, and experienced a kind of ghostly comfort in his imagined
approval and forgiveness, but in his presence, nothing really happened
except the alternation of her kindness and unkindness, in which she was
too kind and then too unkind.
The morning of the' day he was at last to leave Venice, he came to say
good bye. He did not ask for Mrs. Lander, when the girl received him,
and he did not give himself time to lose courage before he began, "Miss
Clementina, I don't know whether I ought to speak to you after what I
understood you to mean about Mr. Gregory." He looked steadfastly at her
but she did not answer, and he went on. "There's just one chance in a
million, though, that I didn't understand you rightly, and I've made up
my mind that I want to take that chance. May I?" She tried to speak,
but she could not. "If I was wrong--if there was nothing between you and
him--could there ever be anything beween you and me?"
His pleading looks entreated her even more than his words.
"There was something," she answered, "with him."
"And I mustn't know what," the young man said patiently.
"Yes--yes!" she returned eagerly. "Oh, yes! I want you to know--I want
to tell you. I was only sixteen yea's old, and he said that he oughtn't
to have spoken; we were both too young. But last winta he spoke again.
He said that he had always felt bound"--She stopped, and he got infirmly
to his feet. "I wanted to tell you from the fust, but"--
"How could you? You couldn't. I haven't anything more to say, if you
are bound to him."
"He is going to be a missionary and he wanted me to say that I would
believe just as he did; and I couldn't. But I thought that it would come
right; and--yes, I felt bound to him, too. That is all--I can't explain
"Oh, I understand!" he returned, listlessly.
"And do you blame me for not telling before?" She made an involuntary
movement toward him, a pathetic gesture which both entreated and
"There's nobody to blame. You have tried to do just right by me, as well
as him. Well, I've got my answer. Mrs. Lander--can I"--
"Why, she isn't up yet, Mr. Hinkle." Clementina put all her pain for him
into the expression of their regret.
"Then I'll have to leave my good-bye for her with you. I don't believe I
can come back again." He looked round as if he were dizzy. "Good-bye,"
he said, and offered his hand. It was cold as clay.
When he was gone, Clementina went into Mrs: Lander's room, and gave her
"Couldn't he have come back this aftanoon to see me, if he ain't goin'
till five?" she demanded jealously.
"He said he couldn't come back," Clementina answered sadly.
The woman turned her head on her pillow and looked at the girl's face.
"Oh!" she said for all comment.
The Milrays came a month later, to seek a milder sun than they had left
burning in Florence. The husband and wife had been sojourning there
since their arrival from Egypt, but they had not been his sister's
guests, and she did not now pretend to be of their party, though the same
train, even the same carriage, had brought her to Venice with them. They
went to a hotel, and Miss Milray took lodgings where she always spent her
Junes, before going to the Tyrol for the summer.
"You are wonderfully improved, every way," Mrs. Milray said to Clementina
when they met. "I knew you would be, if Miss Milray took you in hand;
and I can see she has. What she doesn't know about the world isn't worth
knowing! I hope she hasn't made you too worldly? But if she has, she's
taught you how to keep from showing it; you're just as innocent-looking
as ever, and that's the main thing; you oughtn't to lose that. You
wouldn't dance a skirt dance now before a ship's company, but if you did,
no one would suspect that you knew any better. Have you forgiven me,
yet? Well, I didn't use you very well, Clementina, and I never pretended
I did. I've eaten a lot of humble pie for that, my dear. Did Miss
Milray tell you that I wrote to her about it? Of course you won't say
how she told you; but she ought to have done me the justice to say that I
tried to be a friend at court with her for you. If she didn't, she
"She neva said anything against you, Mrs. Milray," Clementina answered.
"Discreet as ever, my dear! I understand! And I hope you understand
about that old affair, too, by this time. It was a complication. I had
to get back at Lioncourt somehow; and I don't honestly think now that his
admiration for a young girl was a very wholesome thing for her. But
never mind. You had that Boston goose in Florence, too, last winter,
and I suppose he gobbled up what little Miss Milray had left of me. But
she's charming. I could go down on my knees to her art when she really
tries to finish any one."
Clementina noticed that Mrs. Milray had got a new way of talking. She
had a chirpiness, and a lift in her inflections, which if it was not
exactly English was no longer Western American. Clementina herself in
her association with Hinkle had worn off her English rhythm, and in her
long confinement to the conversation of Mrs. Lander, she had reverted to
her clipped Yankee accent. Mrs. Milray professed to like it, and said it
brought back so delightfully those pleasant days at Middlemount, when
Clementina really was a child. "I met somebody at Cairo, who seemed very
glad to hear about you, though he tried to seem not. Can you guess who
it was? I see that you never could, in the world! We got quite chummy
one day, when we were going out to the pyramids together, and he gave
himself away, finely. He's a simple soul! But when they're in love
they're all so! It was a little queer, colloguing with the ex-headwaiter
on society terms; but the head-waitership was merely an episode, and the
main thing is that he is very talented, and is going to be a minister.
It's a pity he's so devoted to his crazy missionary scheme. Some one
ought to get hold of him, and point him in the direction of a rich New
York congregation. He'd find heathen enough among them, and he could do
the greatest amount of good with their money; I tried to talk it into
him. I suppose you saw him in Florence, this spring?" she suddenly
"Yes," Clementina answered briefly.
"And you didn't make it up together. I got that much out of Miss Milray.
Well, if he were here, I should find out why. But I don't suppose you
would tell me." She waited a moment to see if Clementina would, and then
she said, "It's a pity, for I've a notion I could help you, and I think I
owe you a good turn, for the way I behaved about your dance. But if you
don't want my help, you don't."
"I would say so if I did, Mrs. Milray," said Clementina. "I was hu't,
at the time; but I don't care anything for it, now. I hope you won't
think about it any more!"
"Thank you," said Mrs. Milray, "I'll try not to," and she laughed. "But
I should like to do something to prove my repentance."
Clementina perceived that for some reason she would rather have more than
less cause for regret; and that she was mocking her; but she was without
the wish or the power to retaliate, and she did not try to fathom Mrs.
Milray's motives. Most motives in life, even bad motives, lie nearer the
surface than most people commonly pretend, and she might not have had to
dig deeper into Mrs. Milray's nature for hers than that layer of her
consciousness where she was aware that Clementina was a pet of her
sister-in-law. For no better reason she herself made a pet of Mrs.
Lander, whose dislike of Miss Milray was not hard to divine, and whose
willingness to punish her through Clementina was akin to her own. The
sick woman was easily flattered back into her first belief in Mrs. Milray
and accepted her large civilities and small services as proof of her
virtues. She began to talk them into Clementina, and to contrast them
with the wicked principles and actions of Miss Milray.
The girl had forgiven Mrs. Milray, but she could not go back to any trust
in her; and she could only passively assent to her praise. When Mrs.
Lander pressed her for anything more explicit she said what she thought,
and then Mrs. Lander accused her of hating Mrs. Milray, who was more her
friend than some that flattered her up for everything, and tried to make
a fool of her.
"I undastand now," she said one day, "what that recta meant by wantin' me
to make life ba'd for you; he saw how easy you was to spoil. Miss Milray
is one to praise you to your face, and disgrace you be hind your back,
and so I tell you. When Mrs. Milray thought you done wrong she come and
said so; and you can't forgive her."
Clementina did not answer. She had mastered the art of reticence in her
relations with Mrs. Lander, and even when Miss Milray tempted her one day
to give way, she still had strength to resist. But she could not deny
that Mrs. Lander did things at times to worry her, though she ended
compassionately with the reflection: "She's sick."
"I don't think she's very sick, now," retorted her friend.
"No; that's the reason she's so worrying. When she's really sick, she's
"Because she's frightened, I suppose. And how long do you propose to
"I don't know," Clementina listlessly answered.
"She couldn't get along without me. I guess I can stand it till we go
home; she says she is going home in the fall."
Miss Milray sat looking at the girl a moment.
"Shall you be glad to go home?"
"Oh yes, indeed!"
"To that place in the woods?"
"Why, yes! What makes you ask?"
"Nothing. But Clementina, sometimes I think you don't quite understand
yourself. Don't you know that you are very pretty and very charming?
I've told you that often enough! But shouldn't you like to be a great
success in the world? Haven't you ever thought of that? Don't you care
The girl sighed. "Yes, I think that's all very nice I did ca'e, one
while, there in Florence, last winter!"
"My dear, you don't know how much you were admired. I used to tell you,
because I saw there was no spoiling you; but I never told you half. If
you had only had the time for it you could have been the greatest sort of
success; you were formed for it. It wasn't your beauty alone; lots of
pretty girls don't make anything of their beauty; it was your
temperament. You took things easily and naturally, and that's what the
world likes. It doesn't like your being afraid of it, and you were not
afraid, and you were not bold; you were just right." Miss Milray grew
more and more exhaustive in her analysis, and enjoyed refining upon it.
"All that you needed was a little hard-heartedness, and that would have
come in time; you would have learned how to hold your own, but the chance
was snatched from you by that old cat! I could weep over you when I
think how you have been wasted on her, and now you're actually willing to
go back and lose yourself in the woods!"
"I shouldn't call it being lost, Miss Milray."
"I don't mean that, and you must excuse me, my dear. But surely your
people--your father and mother--would want to have you get on in the
world--to make a brilliant match"--
Clementina smiled to think how far such a thing was from their
imaginations. "I don't believe they would ca'e. You don't undastand
about them, and I couldn't make you. Fatha neva liked the notion of my
being with such a rich woman as Mrs. Lander, because it would look as if
we wanted her money."
"I never could have imagined that of you, Clementina!"
"I didn't think you could," said the girl gratefully. "But now, if I
left her when she was sick and depended on me, it would look wohse, yet--
as if I did it because she was going to give her money to Mr. Landa's
family. She wants to do that, and I told her to; I think that would be
right; don't you?"
"It would be right for you, Clementina, if you preferred it--and--I
should prefer it. But it wouldn't be right for her. She has given you
hopes--she has made promises--she has talked to everybody."
"I don't ca'e for that. I shouldn't like to feel beholden to any one,
and I think it really belongs to his relations; it was HIS."
Miss Milray did not say anything to this. She asked, "And if you went
back, what would you do there? Labor in the fields, as poor little
Clementina laughed. "No; but I expect you'll think it's almost as crazy.
You know how much I like dancing? Well, I think I could give dancing
lessons at the Middlemount. There are always a good many children, and
girls that have not grown up, and I guess I could get pupils enough, as
long as the summa lasted; and come winter, I'm not afraid but what I
could get them among the young folks at the Center. I used to teach them
before I left home."
Miss Milray sat looking at her. "I don't know about such things; but it
sounds sensible--like everything about you, my dear. It sounds queer,
perhaps because you're talking of such a White Mountain scheme here in
"Yes, don't it?" said Clementina, sympathetically. "I was thinking of
that, myself. But I know I could do it. I could go round to different
hotels, different days. Yes, I should like to go home, and they would be
glad to have me. You can't think how pleasantly we live; and we're
company enough for each other. I presume I should miss the things I've
got used to ova here, at fust; but I don't believe I should care a great
while. I don't deny but what the wo'ld is nice; but you have to pay for
it; I don't mean that you would make me"--
"No, no! We understand each other. Go on!"
Miss Milray leaned towards her and pressed the girl's arm reassuringly.
As often happens with people when they are told to go on, Clementina
found that she had not much more to say. "I think I could get along in
the wo'ld, well enough. Yes, I believe I could do it. But I wasn't bohn
to it, and it would be a great deal of trouble--a great deal moa than if
I had been bohn to it. I think it would be too much trouble. I would
rather give it up and go home, when Mrs. Landa wants to go back."
Miss Milray did not speak for a time. "I know that you are serious,
Clementina; and you're wise always, and good"--
"It isn't that, exactly," said Clementina. "But is it--I don't know how
to express it very well--is it wo'th while?"
Miss Milray looked at her as if she doubted the girl's sincerity. Even
when the world, in return for our making it our whole life, disappoints
and defeats us with its prizes, we still question the truth of those who
question the value of these prizes; we think they must be hopeless of
them, or must be governed by some interest momentarily superior.
Clementina pursued, "I know that you have had all you wanted of the
"Oh, no!" the woman broke out, almost in anguish. "Not what I wanted!
What I tried for. It never gave me what I wanted. It--couldn't!"
"It isn't worth while in that sense. But if you can't have what you
want,--if there's been a hollow left in your life--why the world goes a
great way towards filling up the aching void." The tone of the last
words was lighter than their meaning, but Clementina weighed them aright.
"Miss Milray," she said, pinching the edge of the table by which she sat,
a little nervously, and banging her head a little, "I think I can have
what I want." Then, give the whole world for it, child!"
"There is something I should like to tell you."
"For you to advise me about."
"I will, my dear, gladly and truly!"
"He was here before you came. He asked me"--
Miss Milray gave a start of alarm. She said, to gain time: "How did he
get here? I supposed he was in Germany with his"--
"No; he was here the whole of May."
"Mr. Gregory?" Clementina's face flushed and drooped Still lower.
"I meant Mr. Hinkle. But if you think I oughtn't"--
"I don't think anything; I'm so glad! I supposed from what you said
about the world, that it must be--But if it isn't, all the better. If
it's Mr. Hinkle that you can have"--
"I'm not sure I can. I should like to tell you just how it is, and then
you will know." It needed fewer words for this than she expected, and
then Clementina took a letter from her pocket, and gave it to Miss
Milray. "He wrote it on the train, going away, and it's not very plain;
but I guess you can make it out."
Miss Milray received the penciled leaves, which seemed to be pages torn
out of a note-book. They were dated the day Hinkle left Venice, and the
envelope bore the postmark of Verona. They were not addressed, but began
abruptly: "I believe I have made a mistake; I ought not to have given you
up till I knew something that no one but you can tell me. You are not
bound to any body unless you wish to be so. That is what I see now, and
I will not give you up if I can help it. Even if you had made a promise,
and then changed your mind, you would not be bound in such a thing as
this. I say this, and I know you will not believe I say it because I
want you. I do want you, but I would not urge you to break your faith.
I only ask you to realize that if you kept your word when your heart had
gone out of it, you would be breaking your faith; and if you broke your
word you would be keeping your faith. But if your heart is still in your
word, I have no more to say. Nobody knows but you. I would get out and
take the first train back to Venice if it were not for two things. I
know it would be hard on me; and I am afraid it might be hard on you.
But if you will write me a line at Milan, when you get this, or if you
will write to me at London before July; or at New York at any time--for I
expect to wait as long as I live"--
The letter ended here in the local addresses which the writer gave.
Miss Milray handed the leaves back to Clementina, who put them into her
pocket, and apparently waited for her questions.
"And have you written?"
"No," said the girl, slowly and thoughtfully, "I haven't. I wanted to,
at fust; and then, I thought that if he truly meant what he said he would
be willing to wait."
"And why did you want to wait?"
Clementina replied with a question of her own. "Miss Milray, what do you
think about Mr. Gregory?"
"Oh, you mustn't ask me that, my dear! I was afraid I had told you too
plainly, the last time."
"I don't mean about his letting me think he didn't ca'e for me, so long.
But don't you think he wants to do what is right! Mr. Gregory, I mean."
"Well, if you put me on my honor, I'm afraid I do."
"You see," Clementina resumed. "He was the fust one, and I did ca'e for
him a great deal; and I might have gone on caring for him, if--When I
found out that I didn't care any longer, or so much, it seemed to me as
if it must be wrong. Do you think it was?"
"When I got to thinking about some one else at fust it was only not
thinking about him--I was ashamed. Then I tried to make out that I was
too young in the fust place, to know whether I really ca'ed for any one
in the right way; but after I made out that I was, I couldn't feel
exactly easy--and I've been wanting to ask you, Miss Milray"--
"Ask me anything you like, my dear!"
"Why, it's only whether a person ought eva to change."
"We change whether we ought, or not. It isn't a matter of duty, one way
"Yes, but ought we to stop caring for somebody, when perhaps we shouldn't
if somebody else hadn't come between? That is the question."
"No," Miss Milray retorted, "that isn't at all the question. The
question is which you want and whether you could get him. Whichever you
want most it is right for you to have."
"Do you truly think so?"
"I do, indeed. This is the one thing in life where one may choose safest
what one likes best; I mean if there is nothing bad in the man himself."
"I was afraid it would be wrong! That was what I meant by wanting to be
fai'a with Mr. Gregory when I told you about him there in Florence. I
don't believe but what it had begun then."
"What had begun?"
"About Mr. Hinkle."
Miss Milray burst into a laugh. "Clementina, you're delicious!"
The girl looked hurt, and Miss Milray asked seriously, "Why do you like
Mr. Hinkle best--if you do?"
Clementina sighed. "Oh, I don't know. He's so resting."
"Then that settles it. From first to last, what we poor women want is
rest. It would be a wicked thing for you to throw your life away on some
one who would worry you out of it. I don't wish to say any thing against
Mr. Gregory. I dare say be is good--and conscientious; but life is a
struggle, at the best, and it's your duty to take the best chance for
Clementina did not look altogether convinced, whether it was Miss
Milray's logic or her morality that failed to convince her. She said,
after a moment, "I should like to see Mr. Gregory again."
"What good would that do?"
"Why, then I should know."
"Whether I didn't really ca'e for him any more--or so much."
"Clementina," said Miss Milray, "you mustn't make me lose patience with
"No. But I thought you said that it was my duty to do what I wished."
"Well, yes. That is what I said," Miss Milray consented. "But I
supposed that you knew already."
"No," said Clementina, candidly, "I don't believe I do."
"And what if you don't see him?"
"I guess I shall have to wait till I do. The'e will be time enough."
Miss Milray sighed, and then she laughed. "You ARE young!"
Miss Milray went from Clementina to call upon her sister-in-law, and
found her brother, which was perhaps what she hoped might happen.
"Do you know," she said, "that that old wretch is going to defraud that
poor thing, after all, and leave her money to her husband's half-sister's
"You wish me to infer the Mrs. Lander--Clementina situation?" Milray
"I'm glad you put it in terms that are not actionable, then; for your
words are decidedly libellous."
"What do you mean?"
"I've just been writing Mrs. Lander's will for her, and she's left all
her property to Clementina, except five thousand apiece to the half-
sister's three children."
"I can't believe it!"
"Well," said Milray, with his gentle smile, "I think that's safe ground
for you. Mrs. Lander will probably have time enough to change her will
as well as her mind several times yet before she dies. The half-sister's
children may get their rights yet."
"I wish they might!" said Miss Milray, with an impassioned sigh. "Then
perhaps I should get Clementina--for a while."
Her brother laughed. "Isn't there somebody else wants Clementina?
"Oh, plenty. But she's not sure she wants anybody else."
"Does she want you?"
"No, I can't say she does. She wants to go home."
"That's not a bad scheme. I should like to go home myself if I had one.
What would you have done with Clementina if you had got her, Jenny?"
"What would any one have done with her? Married her brilliantly, of
"But you say she isn't sure she wishes to be married at all?"
Miss Milray stated the case of Clementina's divided mind, and her belief
that she would take Hinkle in the end, together with the fear that she
might take Gregory. "She's very odd," Miss Milray concluded. "She
puzzles me. Why did you ever send her to me?"
Milray laughed. "I don't know. I thought she would amuse you, and I
thought it would be a pleasure to her."
They began to talk of some affairs of their own, from which Miss Milray
returned to Clementina with the ache of an imperfectly satisfied
intention. If she had meant to urge her brother to seek justice for the
girl from Mrs. Lander, she was not so well pleased to have found justice
done already. But the will had been duly signed and witnessed before the
American vice-consul, and she must get what good she could out of an
accomplished fact. It was at least a consolation to know that it put an
end to her sister-in-law's patronage of the girl, and it would be
interesting to see Mrs. Milray adapt her behavior to Clementina's
fortunes. She did not really dislike her sister-in-law enough to do her
a wrong; she was only willing that she should do herself a wrong.
But one of the most disappointing things in all hostile operations is
that you never can know what the enemy would be at; and Mrs. Milray's
manoevres were sometimes dictated by such impulses that her strategy was
peculiarly baffling. The thought of her past unkindness to Clementina
may still have rankled in her, or she may simply have felt the need of
outdoing Miss Milray by an unapproachable benefaction. It is certain
that when Baron Belsky came to Venice a few weeks after her own arrival,
they began to pose at each other with reference to Clementina; she with
a measure of consciousness, he with the singleness of a nature that was
all pose. In his forbearance to win Clementina from Gregory he had
enjoyed the distinction of an unique suffering; and in allowing the fact
to impart itself to Mrs. Milray, he bathed in the warmth of her
flattering sympathy. Before she withdrew this, as she must when she got
tired of him, she learned from him where Gregory was; for it seemed that
Gregory had so far forgiven the past that they had again written to each
During the fortnight of Belsky's stay in Venice Mrs. Lander was much
worse, and Clementina met him only once, very briefly--She felt that he
had behaved like a very silly person, but that was all over now, and she
had no wish to punish him for it. At the end of his fortnight he went
northward into the Austrian Tyrol, and a few days later Gregory came down
from the Dolomites to Venice.
It was in his favor with Clementina that he yielded to the impulse he had
to come directly to her; and that he let her know with the first words
that he had acted upon hopes given him through Belsky from Mrs. Milray.
He owned that he doubted the authority of either to give him these hopes,
but he said he could not abandon them without a last effort to see her,
and learn from her whether they were true or false.
If she recognized the design of a magnificent reparation in what Mrs.
Milray had done, she did not give it much thought. Her mind was upon
distant things as she followed Gregory's explanation of his presence,
and in the muse in which she listened she seemed hardly to know when he
"I know it must seem to take something for granted which I've no right to
take for granted. I don't believe you could think that I cared for
anything but you, or at all for what Mrs. Lander has done for you."
"Do you mean her leaving me her money?" asked Clementina, with that
boldness her sex enjoys concerning matters of finance and affection.
"Yes," said Gregory, blushing for her. "As far as I should ever have a
right to care, I could wish there were no money. It could bring no
blessing to our life. We could do no good with it; nothing but the
sacrifice of ourselves in poverty could be blessed to us."
"That is what I thought, too," Clementina replied.
"Oh, then you did think"--
"But afterwards, I changed my Mind. If she wants to give me her money I
shall take it."
Gregory was blankly silent again.
"I shouldn't know how to refuse, and I don't know as I should have any
right to. Gregory shrank a little from her reyankeefied English, as well
as from the apparent cynicism of her speech; but he shrank in silence
still. She startled him by asking with a kindness that was almost
tenderness, "Mr. Gregory, how do you think anything has changed?"
"You know how it was when you went away from Florence. Do you think
differently now? I don't. I don't think I ought to do something for
you, and pretend that I was doing it for religion. I don't believe the
way you do; and I know I neva shall. Do you want me in spite of my
saying that I can neva help you in your work because I believe in it?"
"But if you believe in me"--
She shook her bead compassionately. "You know we ahgued that out before.
We are just whe'e we were. I am sorry. Nobody had any right to tell you
to come he'e. But I am glad you came--"She saw the hope that lighted up
his face, but she went on unrelentingly--"I think we had betta be free."
"Yes, from each other. I don't know how you have felt, but I have not
felt free. It has seemed to me that I promised you something. If I did,
I want to take my promise back and be free."
Her frankness appealed to his own. "You are free. I never held you
bound to me in my fondest hopes. You have always done right."
"I have tried to. And I am not going to let you go away thinking that
the reason I said is the only reason. It isn't. I wish to be free
because--there is some one else, now." It was hard to tell him this,
but she knew that she must not do less; and the train that carried him
from Venice that night bore a letter from her to Hinkle.
Clementina told Miss Milray what had happened, but with Mrs. Milray the
girl left the sudden departure of Gregory to account for itself.
They all went a week later, and Mrs. Milray having now done her whole
duty to Clementina had the easiest mind concerning her. Miss Milray felt
that she was leaving her to greater trials than ever with Mrs. Lander;
but since there was nothing else, she submitted, as people always do with
the trials of others, and when she was once away she began to forget her.
By this time, however, it was really better for her. With no one to
suspect of tampering with her allegiance, Mrs. Lander returned to her
former fondness for the girl, and they were more peaceful if not happier
together again. They had long talks, such as they used to have, and in
the first of these Clementina told her how and why she had written to
Mr. Hinkle. Mrs. Lander said that it suited her exactly.
"There ha'n't but just two men in Europe behaved like gentlemen to me,
and one is Mr. Hinkle, and the other is that lo'd; and between the two I
ratha you'd have Mr. Hinkle; I don't know as I believe much in American
guls marryin' lo'ds, the best of 'em."
Clementina laughed. "Why, Mrs. Landa, Lo'd Lioncou't never thought of me
in the wo'ld!"
"You can't eva know. Mrs. Milray was tellin' that he's what they call a
pooa lo'd, and that he was carryin' on with the American girls like
everything down there in Egypt last winta. I guess if it comes to money
you'd have enough to buy him and sell him again."
The mention of money cast a chill upon their talk; and Mrs. Lander said
gloomily, "I don't know as I ca'e so much for that will Mr. Milray made
for me, after all. I did want to say ten thousand apiece for Mr. Landa's
relations; but I hated to befo'e him; I'd told the whole kit of 'em so
much about you, and I knew what they would think."
She looked at Clementina with recurring grudge, and the girl could not
"Then why don't you tear it up, and make another? I don't want anything,
unless you want me to have it; and I'd ratha not have anything."
"Yes, and what would folks say, afta youa taken' care of me?"
"Do you think I do it fo' that?"
"What do you do it fo'?"
"What did you want me to come with you fo'?"
"That's true." Mrs. Lander brightened and warmed again. "I guess it's
all right. I guess I done right, and I got to be satisfied. I presume I
could get the consul to make me a will any time."
Clementina did not relent so easily. "Mrs. Landa, whateva you do I don't
ca'e to know it; and if you talk to me again about this I shall go home.
I would stay with you as long as you needed me, but I can't if you keep
bringing this up."
"I suppose you think you don't need me any moa! Betta not be too su'a."
The girl jumped to her feet, and Mrs. Lander interposed. "Well, the'a!
I didn't mean anything, and I won't pesta you about it any moa. But I
think it's pretty ha'd. Who am I going to talk it ova with, then?"
"You can talk it ova with the vice-consul," paid Clementina, at random.
"Well, that's so." Mrs. Lander let Clementina get her ready for the
night, in sign of returning amity; when she was angry with her she always
refused her help, and made her send Maddalena.
The summer heat increased, and the sick woman suffered from it, but she
could not be persuaded that she had strength to get away, though the
vice-consul, whom she advised with, used all his logic with her. He was
a gaunt and weary widower, who described himself as being officially
between hay and grass; the consul who appointed him had resigned after
going home, and a new consul had not yet been sent out to remove him.
On what she called her well days Mrs. Lander went to visit him, and she
did not mind his being in his shirt-sleeves, in the bit of garden where
she commonly found him, with his collar and cravat off, and clouded in
his own smoke; when she was sick she sent for him, to visit her. He made
excuses as often as she could, and if he saw Mrs. Lander's gondola coming
down the Grand Canal to his house he hurried on his cast clothing, and
escaped to the Piazza, at whatever discomfort and risk from the heat.
"I don't know how you stand it, Miss Claxon," he complained to
Clementina, as soon as he learned that she was not a blood relation of
Mrs. Lander's, and divined that she had her own reservations concerning
her. "But that woman will be the death of me if she keeps this up. What
does she think I'm here for? If this goes on much longer I'll resign.
The salary won't begin to pay for it. What am I going to do? I don't
want to hurt her feelings, or not to help her; but I know ten times as
much about Mrs. Lander's liver as I do about my own, now."
He treated Clementina as a person of mature judgment and a sage
discretion, and he accepted what comfort she could offer him when she
explained that it was everything for Mrs. Lander to have him to talk
with. "She gets tied of talking to me," she urged, "and there's nobody
"Why don't she hire a valet de place, and talk to him? I'd hire one
myself for her. It would be a good deal cheaper for me. It's as much as
I can do to stand this weather as it is."
The vice-consul laughed forlornly in his exasperation, but he agreed with
Clementina when she said, in further excuse, that Mrs. Lander was really
very sick. He pushed back his hat, and scratched his head with a
"Of course, we've got to remember she's sick, and I shall need a little
sympathy myself if she keeps on at me this way. I believe I'll tell her
about my liver next time, and see how she likes it. Look here, Miss
Claxon! Couldn't we get her off to some of those German watering places
that are good for her complaints? I believe it would be the best thing
for her--not to mention me."
Mrs. Lander was moved by the suggestion which he made in person
afterwards; it appealed to her old nomadic instinct; but when the consul
was gone she gave it up. "We couldn't git the'e, Clementina. I got to
stay he'e till I git up my stren'th. I suppose you'd be glad enough to
have me sta't, now the'e's nobody he'e but me," she added, suspiciously.
"You git this scheme up, or him?"
Clementina did not defend herself, and Mrs. Lander presently came to her
defence. "I don't believe but what he meant it fo' the best--or you,
whichever it was, and I appreciate it; but all is I couldn't git off. I
guess this aia will do me as much good as anything, come to have it a
They went every afternoon to the Lido, where a wheeled chair met them,
and Mrs. Lander was trundled across the narrow island to the beach. In
the evenings they went to the Piazza, where their faces and figures had
become known, and the Venetians gossipped them down to the last fact of
their relation with an accuracy creditable to their ingenuity in the
affairs of others. To them Mrs. Lander was the sick American, very rich,
and Clementina was her adoptive daughter, who would have her millions
after her. Neither knew the character they bore to the amiable and
inquisitive public of the Piazza, or cared for the fine eyes that aimed
their steadfast gaze at them along the tubes of straw-barreled Virginia
cigars, or across little cups of coffee. Mrs. Lander merely remarked
that the Venetians seemed great for gaping, and Clementina was for the
most part innocent of their stare.
She rested in the choice she had made in a content which was qualified by
no misgiving. She was sorry for Gregory, when she remembered him; but
her thought was filled with some one else, and she waited in faith and
patience for the answer which should come to the letter she had written.
She did not know where her letter would find him, or when she should hear
from him; she believed that she should hear, and that was enough. She
said to herself that she would not lose hope if no answer came for
months; but in her heart she fixed a date for the answer by letter, and
an earlier date for some word by cable; but she feigned that she did not
depend upon this; and when no word came she convinced herself that she
had not expected any.
It was nearing the end of the term which she had tacitly given her lover
to make the first sign by letter, when one morning Mrs. Lander woke her.
She wished to say that she had got the strength to leave Venice at last,
and she was going as soon as their trunks could be packed. She had
dressed herself, and she moved about restless and excited. Clementina
tried to reason her out of her haste; but she irritated her, and fixed
her in her determination. "I want to get away, I tell you; I want to get
away," she answered all persuasion, and there seemed something in her
like the wish to escape from more than the oppressive environment, though
she spoke of nothing but the heat and the smell of the canal. "I believe
it's that, moa than any one thing, that's kept me sick he'e," she said.
"I tell you it's the malariar, and you'll be down, too, if you stay."
She made Clementina go to the banker's, and get money to pay their
landlord's bill, and she gave him notice that they were going that
afternoon. Clementina wished to delay till they had seen the vice-consul
and the doctor; but Mrs. Lander broke out, "I don't want to see 'em,
either of 'em. The docta wants to keep me he'e and make money out of me;
I undastand him; and I don't believe that consul's a bit too good to take
a pussentage. Now, don't you say a wo'd to either of 'em. If you don't
do exactly what I tell you I'll go away and leave you he'e. Now, will
Clementina promised, and broke her word. She went to the vice-consul and
told him she had broken it, and she agreed with him that he had better
not come unless Mrs. Lander sent for him. The doctor promptly imagined
the situation and said he would come in casually during the morning, so
as not to alarm the invalid's suspicions. He owned that Mrs. Lander was
getting no good from remaining in Venice, and if it were possible for her
to go, he said she had better go somewhere into cooler and higher air.
His opinion restored him to Mrs. Lander's esteem, when it was expressed
to her, and as she was left to fix the sum of her debt to him, she made
it handsomer than anything he had dreamed of. She held out against
seeing the vice-consul till the landlord sent in his account. This was
for the whole month which she had just entered upon, and it included
fantastic charges for things hitherto included in the rent, not only for
the current month, but for the months past when, the landlord explained,
he had forgotten to note them. Mrs. Lander refused to pay these demands,
for they touched her in some of those economies which the gross rich
practice amidst their profusion. The landlord replied that she could not
leave his house, either with or without her effects, until she had paid.
He declared Clementina his prisoner, too, and he would not send for the
vice-consul at Mrs. Lander's bidding. How far he was within his rights
in all this they could not know, but he was perhaps himself doubtful, and
he consented to let them send for the doctor, who, when he came, behaved
like anything but the steadfast friend that Mrs. Lander supposed she had
bought in him. He advised paying the account without regard to its
justice, as the shortest and simplest way out of the trouble; but Mrs.
Lander, who saw him talking amicably and even respectfully with the
landlord, when he ought to have treated him as an extortionate scamp,
returned to her former ill opinion of him; and the vice-consul now
appeared the friend that Doctor Tradonico had falsely seemed. The doctor
consented, in leaving her to her contempt of him, to carry a message to
the vice-consul, though he came back, with his finger at the side of his
nose, to charge her by no means to betray his bold championship to the
The vice-consul made none of those shows of authority which Mrs. Lander
had expected of him. She saw him even exchanging the common decencies
with the landlord, when they met; but in fact it was not hard to treat
the smiling and courteous rogue well. In all their disagreement he had
looked as constantly to the comfort of his captives as if they had been
his chosen guests. He sent Mrs. Lander a much needed refreshment at the
stormiest moment of her indignation, and he deprecated without retort the
denunciations aimed at him in Italian which did not perhaps carry so far
as his conscience. The consul talked with him in a calm scarcely less
shameful than that of Dr. Tradonico; and at the end of their parley which
she had insisted upon witnessing, he said:
"Well, Mrs. Lander, you've got to stand this gouge or you've got to stand
a law suit. I think the gouge would be cheaper in the end. You see,
he's got a right to his month's rent."
"It ain't the rent I ca'e for: it's the candles, and the suvvice, and the
things he says we broke. It was undastood that everything was to be in
the rent, and his two old chaias went to pieces of themselves when we
tried to pull 'em out from the wall; and I'll neva pay for 'em in the
Why," the vice-consul pleaded, "it's only about forty francs for the
"I don't care if it's only fotty cents. And I must say, Mr. Bennam,
you're about the strangest vice-consul, to want me to do it, that I eva
The vice-consul laughed unresentfully. "Well, shall I send you a
"No!" Mrs. Lander retorted; and after a moment's reflection she added,
"I'm goin' to stay my month, and so you may tell him, and then I'll see
whetha he can make me pay for that breakage and the candles and suvvice.
I'm all wore out, as it is, and I ain't fit to travel, now, and I don't
know when I shall be. Clementina, you can go and tell Maddalena to stop
packin'. Or, no! I'll do it."
She left the room without further notice of the consul, who said ruefully
to Clementina, "Well, I've missed my chance, Miss Claxon, but I guess
she's done the wisest thing for herself."
"Oh, yes, she's not fit to go. She must stay, now, till it's coola.
Will you tell the landlo'd, or shall"--
"I'll tell him," said the vice-consul, and he had in the landlord. He
received her message with the pleasure of a host whose cherished guests
have consented to remain a while longer, and in the rush of his good
feeling he offered, if the charge for breakage seemed unjust to the vice-
consul, to abate it; and since the signora had not understood that she
was to pay extra for the other things, he would allow the vice-consul to
adjust the differences between them; it was a trifle, and he wished above
all things to content the signora, for whom he professed a cordial esteem
both on his own part and the part of all his family.
"Then that lets me out for the present," said the vice-consul, when
Clementina repeated Mrs. Lander's acquiescence in the landlord's
proposals, and he took his straw hat, and called a gondola from the
nearest 'traghetto', and bargained at an expense consistent with his
salary, to have himself rowed back to his own garden-gate.
The rest of the day was an era of better feeling between Mrs. Lander and
her host than they had ever known, and at dinner he brought in with his
own hand a dish which he said he had caused to be specially made for her.
It was so tempting in odor and complexion that Mrs. Lander declared she
must taste it, though as she justly said, she had eaten too much already;
when it had once tasted it she ate it all, against Clementina's
protestations; she announced at the end that every bite had done her
good, and that she never felt better in her life. She passed a happy
evening, with renewed faith in the air of the lagoon; her sole regret now
was that Mr. Lander had not lived to try it with her, for if he had she
was sure he would have been alive at that moment.
She allowed herself to be got to bed rather earlier than usual; before
Clementina dropped asleep she heard her breathing with long, easy, quiet
respirations, and she lost the fear of the landlord's dish which had
haunted her through the evening. She was awakened in the morning by a
touch on her shoulder. Maddalena hung over her with a frightened face,
and implored her to come and look at the signora, who seemed not at all
well. Clementina ran into her room, and found her dead. She must have
died some hours before without a struggle, for the face was that of
sleep, and it had a dignity and beauty which it had not worn in her life
of self-indulgent wilfulness for so many years that the girl had never
seen it look so before.
The vice-consul was not sure how far his powers went in the situation
with which Mrs. Lander had finally embarrassed him. But he met the new
difficulties with patience, and he agreed with Clementina that they ought
to see if Mrs. Lander had left any written expression of her wishes
concerning the event. She had never spoken of such a chance, but had
always looked forward to getting well and going home, so far as the girl
knew, and the most careful search now brought to light nothing that bore
upon it. In the absence of instructions to the contrary, they did what
they must, and the body, emptied of its life of senseless worry and
greedy care, was laid to rest in the island cemetery of Venice.
When all was over, the vice-consul ventured an observation which he had
hitherto delicately withheld. The question of Mrs. Lander's kindred had
already been discussed between him and Clementina, and he now felt that
another question had duly presented itself. "You didn't notice," he
suggested, "anything like a will when we went over the papers?" He had
looked carefully for it, expecting that there might have been some
expression of Mrs. Lander's wishes in it. "Because," he added, "I happen
to know that Mr. Milray drew one up for her; I witnessed it."
"No," said Clementina, "I didn't see anything of it. She told me she had
made a will; but she didn't quite like it, and sometimes she thought she
would change it. She spoke of getting you to do it; I didn't know but
The vice-consul shook his head. "No. And these relations of her
husband's up in Michigan; you don't know where they live, exactly?"
"No. She neva told me; she wouldn't; she didn't like to talk about them;
I don't even know their names."
The vice-consul thoughtfully scratched a corner of his chin through his
beard. "If there isn't any will, they're the heirs. I used to be a sort
of wild-cat lawyer, and I know that much law."
"Yes," said Clementina. "She left them five thousand dollas apiece. She
said she wished she had made it ten."
"I guess she's made it a good deal more, if she's made it anything. Miss
Claxon, don't you understand that if no will turns up, they come in for
all her money.
"Well, that's what I thought they ought to do," said Clementina.
"And do you understand that if that's so, you don't come in for anything?
You must excuse me for mentioning it; but she has told everybody that you
were to have it, and if there is no will"--
He stopped and bent an eye of lack-lustre compassion on the girl, who
replied, "Oh, yes. I know that; it's what I always told her to do. I
didn't want it."
"You didn't want it?"
"Well!" The vice-consul stared at her, but he forbore the comment that
her indifference inspired. He said after a pause, "Then what we've got
to do is to advertise for the Michigan relations, and let 'em take any
action they want to."
"That's the only thing we could do, I presume."
This gave the vice-consul another pause. At the end of it he got to his
feet. "Is there anything I can do for you, Miss Claxon?"
She went to her portfolio and produced Mrs. Lander's letter of credit.
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