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The eagles shadow


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Title:TheEagle'sShadow
Author:JamesBranchCabell
ReleaseDate:January31,2004[EBook#10882]
Language:English

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image002.jpg
[Illustration:"Margaret"]


THE



EAGLE'SSHADOW


By
JAMESBRANCHCABELL

IllustratedbyWillGrafé
DecoratedbyBiantheOstortag
image004.jpg
1904
Published,October,1904
image008.jpg
To
MarthaLouiseBranch
Intrustthattheenterprisemaybejudged
lessbythemeritsofitsfactorthan
bythoseofitspatron

image010.jpgCONTENTSimage012.jpg
CHAPTER
I.
II.
III.
IV.


V.
VI.
VII.
VIII.
IX.
X.
XI.
XII.
XIII.
XIV.
XV.
XVI.


XVII.
XVIII.
XIX.
XX.
XXI.
XXII.
XXIII.


XXIV.
XXV.
XXVI.
XXVII.
XXVIII.
XXIX.
XXX.
XXXI.
XXXII.
XXXIII.

THECHARACTERS
ColonelThomasHugonin,formerlyintheserviceofHerMajestythe
EmpressofIndia,MargaretHugonin'sfather.
FrederickR.Woods,thefounderofSelwoode,Margaret'suncleby
marriage.
BillyWoods,hisnephew,Margaret'squondamfiancé.
HughVanOrden,aratheryoungyoungman,Margaret'sadorer.
MartinJeal,M.D.,ofFairhaven,Margaret'sfamilyphysician.
Cock-EyeFlinks,agentlemanofleisure,Margaret'schance
acquaintance.


PetheridgeJukesbury,presidentoftheSocietyfortheSuppressionof
NicotineandtheNude,Margaret'salmonerinfurtheringthecauseof
educationandtemperance.
FelixKennaston,aminorpoet,Margaret'salmonerinfurtheringthe
causeofliteratureandart.
SarahEllenHaggage,MadamePresidentoftheLadies'Leagueforthe
EdificationoftheImpecunious,Margaret'salmonerinfurtheringthe
causeofcharityandphilanthropy.KathleenEppesSaumarez,alecturer
beforewomen'sclubs,Margaret'salmonerinfurtheringthecauseof
theosophy,naturestudy,andrationaldress.
AdèleHaggage,Mrs.Haggage'sdaughter,Margaret'srivalwithHughVan
Orden.
AndMargaretHugonin.
TheotherparticipantsinthestoryareWilkins,Célestine,TheSpring
MoonandTheEagle.

LISTOFILLUSTRATIONS
"Margaret"
"'Altogether,'saysColonelHugonin,'theystrikemeasbeingthe
mostungodlymenagerieevergottentogetherunderoneroofsinceNoah
landedonArarat'"
"Then,fornoapparentreason,Margaretflushed,andBilly...thought
itvastlybecoming"
"BillyWoods"
"Billyunfoldeditslowly,withapuzzledlookgrowinginhis


countenance"
"'Mylady,'heasked,verysoftly,'haven'tyouanygoodnewsforme
onthiswonderfulmorning?'"
"MissHugoninpouted.'Youneedn't,besuchagrandfather,'she
suggestedhelpfully."
"Regardedthemwithalerteyes"

THEEAGLE'SSHADOW

I
ThisisthestoryofMargaretHugoninandoftheEagle.Andwithyour
permission,wewillforthepresentdeferallconsiderationofthe
bird,anddevoteourunqualifiedattentiontoMargaret.
IhavealwaysesteemedMargarettheobvious,sensible,most
appropriatenamethatcanbebestoweduponagirl-child,foritisa
namethatfitsawoman--anywoman--asneatlyasherpropersizein
gloves.
Yes,thefirstpointIwishtomakeisthatawoman-child,once
baptisedMargaret,istherebyinsuredofasuitablename.Beshegrave
orgayinafter-life,wantonorpiousorsullen,comelyorotherwise,
therewillbenopossiblechanceofincongruity;whethershedevelopa
tasteforwinter-gardensorthehighermathematics,whethershetake
togolforclingingorgandies,theeventisprovidedfor.Onehasonly
toconsiderforamoment,andifamongachoiceofMadge,Marjorie,
Meta,Maggie,Margherita,Peggy,andGretchen,andcountless
others--ifamongallthesehecannotfindanamethatsuitshertoa
T--why,then,thecaseisindeeddesperateandhemaypermissibly
fallbackuponMadamor--ifthecatjumppropitiously,andathisown
peril--onDarlingorSweetheart.


Thesecondproofthatthisnamemustbethebestofallpossiblenames
isthatMargaretHugoninboreit.Andsothemurderisout.Youmay
suspectwhatyouchoose.IwarnyouinadvancethatIhavenopart
whateverinherstory;andifmyadmirationforhergivennameappear
somewhatexcessive,Icanonlyprotestthatinthisdissentientworld
everyonehasarighttohisowntaste.IknewMargaret.Iadmired
her.AndifinsomeunguardedmomentImayhavecarriedmyadmiration
tothepointofindiscretion,herhusbandmostassuredlyknowsall
aboutit,bythis,andheandIarestillthebestoffriends.Soyou
perceivethatifIeverdidsofarforgetmyselfitcouldscarcely
haveamountedtoahangingmatter.
IamdoublysurethatMargaretHugoninwasbeautiful,forthereason
thatIhaveneverfoundawomanunderforty-fivewhosharedmy
opinion.IfyouclapaTestamentintomyhand,Icannotaffirmthat
womenareeagertorecognisebeautyinoneanother;attheutmostthey
concedethatthisorthatparticularfeatureiswellenough.Butwhen
awomanisclean-eyedandstraight-limbed,andhasacheeryheart,
shereallycannothelpbeingbeautiful;andwhenNatureaccordsher
asufficiencyofdimplesandaninfectiouslaugh,Iprotestsheis
well-nighirresistible.AndalltheseMargaretHugoninhad.
Andsurelythatisenough.
Ishallnotendeavour,then,topictureherfeaturestoyouinany
nicelypickedwords.HerchiefcharmwasthatshewasMargaret.
Andbesidesthat,merecarnalvanitiesaretrivialthings;agray
eyeorsoisnotintheleasttothepurpose.Yetsinceitisthe
immemorialcustomofwriter-folktoinventorysuchpossessionsof
theirheroines,hereyouhaveacatalogueofherpersonalattractions.
Launce'smethodwillserveourturn.
Imprimis,therewasnotverymuchofher--fivefeetthree,atthe
most;andherswasthewell-groomedmoderntypethatimpliesa
grandfatherortwoandisineveryrespecttheantithesisofthat
hulkingVenusoftheLouvrewhompeoplepretendtoadmire.Item,she
hadblueeyes;andwhenshetalkedwithyou,herheaddroopedforward


alittle.Thefrank,intentgazeoftheseeyeswasveryflattering
and,initsultimateeffect,perilous,sinceitledyoufatuouslyto
believethatshehadforgottentherewereanyothertrouseredbeings
extant.Lateronyoufoundthisadecidederror.Item,shehadaquite
incredibleamountofyellowhair,thatwasnotintheleastlikegold
orcopperorbronze--Iscornthehackneyedsimilesofmetallurgical
poets--butastraightforwardyellow,darkeningattheroots;andshe
woreitlowdownonherneckingreatcoilsthatwereheldinplace
byamultitudeoflittlegoldenhair-pinsanddiverscorpulent
tortoise-shellones.Item,hernosewasatinymiracleofperfection;
andthiswasnoteworthy,foryouwillobservethatNature,whoisan
adeptateyesandhairandmouths,veryrarelyachievesacreditable
nose.Item,shehadamouth;andifyouareaGradgrindianwitha
tasteforhairsplitting,Icannotswearthatitwasaparticularly
smallmouth.Thelipswereratherfullthanotherwise;onesawinthem
potentialitiesofheroicpassion,andtenderness,andgenerosity,and,
ifyouwill,temper.No,hermouthwasnotintheleastlikethepink
shoe-buttonofromanceandsugaredportraiture;itwasmanifestly
designedlessforsimperingoutofagiltframeorthedribblingof
stockphrasesoverthreehundredpagesthanforgibesandlaughter
andcheerygossipandhonest,unromanticeating,aswellasanother
purpose,which,asahighlydangeroustopic,Ideclineevento
mention.
ThereyouhavethebestdescriptionofMargaretHugoninthatIam
capableofgivingyou.Noonerealisesitsglaringinadequacymore
acutelythanI.
Furthermore,Istipulatethatifintheprogressofourcomedyshe
appeartoactwithanutterlackofreasonorevencommon-sense--as
everywomanworththewinningmustdoonceortwiceina
lifetime--thatIbepermittedtorecordthefact,tosetitdownin
allitsugliness,nay,eventoexaggerateitalittle--alltotheend
thatImayeventuallyexasperateyouandgoadyouintocryingout,
"Come,come,youarenottreatingthegirlwithcommonjustice!"
For,ifsuchathingwerepossible,Ishoulddesireyoutorivaleven
meinalikingforMargaretHugonin.Andspeakingformyself,Ican
assureyouthatIhavecomelongagotoregardherfaultswiththe


sameleniencythatIaccordmyown.

II
WebeginonafineMaymorninginColonelHugonin'sroomsatSelwoode,
whichis,asyoumayormaynotknow,theHugonins'country-place.
AndtherewediscovertheColoneldawdlingoverhisbreakfast,inan
intermediatestageofthatcarefultoiletwhichenableshimlaterin
thedaytopasscasualinspectionasturningforty-nine.
Atpresenttheoldgentlemanisdiscussingthemembersofhis
daughter'shouse-party.Wewillomit,byyourleave,anumberof
picturesquedescriptivepassages--fortheColonelis,onoccasion,a
manofunfetteredspeech--andcomehastilytotheconclusion,tothe
summing-upofthewholematter.
"Altogether,"saysColonelHugonin,"theystrikemeasbeingthemost
ungodlymenagerieevergottentogetherunderoneroofsinceNoah
landedonArarat."
Now,IamsorrythatveracitycompelsmetopresenttheColonel
inthisparticularstateofmind,forordinarilyhewasas
pleasant-spokenagentlemanasyouwillbeapttomeetonthe
longestsummerday.
image014.jpg
[Illustration:"'Altogether,'saysColonelHugonin,'theystrikemeas
beingthemostungodlymenagerieevergottentogetherunderoneroof
sinceNoahlandedonArarat.'"]
Youmustmakeallowancesforthefactthat,onthisespecialmorning,
hewasstillsufferingfromarecenttwingeofthegout,andthathis
toastwassomewhatdryerthanhelikedit;and,mostpotentofall,
thattheforeignmail,justin,hadcausedhimtorebelanewagainst
theproprietiesandhisdaughter'sinclinations,whichchainedhimto
Selwoode,intheheightofthefullLondonseason,topresideovera
house-partyeverymemberofwhichhecordiallydisliked.Therefore,


theColonelhavingglancedthroughthewell-knownnamesofthoseat
LadyPevensey'slastcotillion,groanedandglaredathisdaughter,
whosatoppositehim,andreviledhisdaughter'sfriendswithpoint
andfluency,andcharacterisedthemasabove,forthereasonthathe
washungeredatheartfortheshadysideofPallMall,andthattheir
presenceatSelwoodepreventedhisattainingthisElysium.For,Iam
sorrytosaythattheColonelloathedallthingsAmerican,savinghis
daughter,whomheworshipped.
And,Ithink,noonewhocouldhaveseenherpreparinghissecondcup
ofteawouldhavedisputedthatinmakingthisexceptionheactedwith
ashowofreason.ForMargaretHugonin--but,asyouknow,sheis
ourheroine,and,asIfearyouhavealreadylearned,wordsarevery
paltrymakeshiftswhenitcomestodescribingher.Letussimplysay,
then,thatMargaret,hisdaughter,begantomakehimacupoftea,and
addthatshelaughed.
Notunkindly;no,foratbottomsheadoredherfather--acomely
Englishmanofsomesixty-odd,whohadrunthroughhiswife'sfortune
andhisown,inthemostgallantfashion--andsheaccordedhis
opinionsaconscientious,butattimes,asorelytaxed,tolerance.
Thatverymonthshehadreachedtwenty-three,theageofomniscience,
whenthefallaciesandgeneralobtusenessofolderpeoplebecome
dishearteninglyapparent.
"It'snonsense,"pursuedtheoldgentleman,"utter,bedlamite
nonsense,fillingSelwoodeupwithwritingpeople!Neverheardofsuch
athing.Gad,Idoremember,asayoungman,meetingThackerayata
garden-partyatOrleansHouse--gentlemanlyfellowwithabrokennose-andBrowningwentaboutabit,too,nowIthinkofit.Peoplehad'em
oneatatimetolendflavourtoadinner--likeanolive;wedidn't
dineonolives,though.Youhave'emforbreakfast,luncheon,dinner,
andeverything!I'msickofolives,Itellyou,Margaret!"Margaret
pouted.
"Theyain'tevengoodolives.Ilookedintooneofthatfellow
Charteris'sbookstheotherday--thatchapyouhadherelastweek.
Itwasballyrot--proverbsstandingontheirheadsandgrinning
likedwarfsinacondemnedstreet-fair!Whowantstobetoldthat


improprietyisthespiceoflifeandthatarovingeyegathers
remorse?Youmaycallthatsortofthingcleverness,ifyoulike;I
callitdamn'foolishness."Andtheemphasiswithwhichhesaidthis
leftnodoubtthattheColonelspokehishonestopinion.
"Attractive,"saidhisdaughterpatiently,"Mr.Charterisisvery,
veryclever.Mr.Kennastonsaysliteraturesufferedaconsiderable
losswhenhebegantowriteforthemagazines."
AndnowthatMargarethasspoken,permitmetocallyourattentionto
hervoice.MellowandsuaveandofastonishingvolumewasMargaret's
voice;itcamenotfromthebackofherthroat,asmostofourwomen's
voicesdo,butfromherchest;andIprotestithadthetimbreofa
violin.Men,hearinghervoiceforthefirsttime,werewonttostare
atheralittleandafterwardtoclosetheirhandsslowly,foralways
itsmodulationshadthetonicsadnessofdistantmusic,andit
thrilledyoutomuchthesamemagnanimityandyearning,cloudily
conceived;andyetyoucouldnotbutsmileinspiteofyourselfatthe
quaintemphasisflutteringthroughherspeechandpouncingforthe
mostpartontheunlikeliestwordinthewholesentence.
ButIfancytheColonelmusthavebeentone-deaf."Don'tyoumake
phrasesforme!"hesnorted;"youkeep'emforyourmenagerieThink!
Bygad,theworldneverthinks.Ibelievetheworlddeliberately
readsthesixbestsellingbooksinordertoincapacitateitselffor
thinking."Then,hiswrathgatheringemphasisashewenton:"The
longerIlivetheplainerIseeShakespearewasright--what
foolsthesemortalsbe,andallthat.There'sthatHaggage
woman--speech-makingthroughthecountrylikeahiatusedpolitician.
Itmaybephilanthropic,butitain'tladylike--no,begad!Whathas
shegottodowithJuvenileCourtsandchild-labourintheSouth,I'd
liketoknow?Whyain'tsheathomeattendingtothatcrippledboy
ofhers--poorlittlebeggar!--insteadofflauntingthroughAmerica
meddlingwithotherfolk'schildren?"
MissHugoninputanotherlumpofsugarintohiscupanddeignedno
reply.
"Bygad,"criedtheColonelfervently,"ifyou'resoanxioustospend


thatmoneyofyoursincharity,whydon'tyoufoundaDayNurseryfor
theChildrenofPhilanthropists--aplacewhereadvancedmenandwomen
canleavetheiroffspringincapablehandswhenthey'rebusiedwith
Mothers'MeetingsandEducationalConferences?Itwoulddoathousand
timesmoregood,Icantellyou,thanthatfreshkindergartenscheme
ofyoursforteachingthechildrenofthelabouringclassestomakea
newsortofmud-pie."
"Youdon'tunderstandthesethings,attractive,"Margaretgently
pointedout."Youaren'tinharmonywiththetrendofmodernthought."
"No,thankGod!"saidtheColonel,heartily.
Ensuedasilenceduringwhichhechippedathisegg-shellinan
absent-mindedfashion.
"ThatfellowKennastonsaidanythingtoyouyet?"hepresently
queried.
"I--Idon'tunderstand,"sheprotested--oh,perfectlyunconvincingly.
Thetea-making,too,engrossedheratthispointtoanutterly
improbableextent.
ThusitshortlybefellthattheColonel,stillregardingherunder
intentbrows,clearedhisthroatandmadeboldtoquestionher
generosityinthematterofsugar;fivelumpsbeing,ashesuggested,
aratherunusualallowanceforonecup.
Then,"Mr.KennastonandIareverygoodfriends,"saidshe,with
dignity.Andhavingspoiledthefirstcupinthemaking,shebeganon
another.
"Gladtohearit,"growledtheoldgentleman."Ihopeyouvaluehis
friendshipsufficientlynottomarryhim.Theman'safraud--aflimsy,
sickeningfraud,likehispoetry,begad,andthat'smadeupofbotany
andwidemarginsandindecencyinaboutequalproportions.Itain't
fitforawomantoread--infact,awomanoughtnottoreadanything;
acomprehensionoftheDecalogueandthecookery-bookisenough
learningforthebestof'em.Yourmothernever--never--"


ColonelHugoninpausedandstaredattheopenwindowforalittle.He
seemedtobeinterestedinsomethingagreatwayoff.
"WeusedtoreadOuida'sbookstogether,"hesaid,somewhatwistfully.
"Lord,Lord,howsherevelledinChandosandBertieCecilandthose
dashingLifeGuardsmen!Andsheusedtotossthatlittleheadofhers
andsayIwasafinerfigureofamanthananyof'em--thirty
yearsago,goodLord!AndIwasthen,butIain'tnow.I'monlya
broken-down,cantankerousoldfool,"declaredtheColonel,blowing
hisnoseviolently,"andthat'swhyI'mquarrellingwiththedearest,
foolishestdaughtermaneverhad.Ah,mydear,don'tmindme--runyour
menagerieasyoulike,andI'llstandit."
Margaretadoptedherusualtactics;sheperchedherselfonthearm
ofhischairandbegantostrokehischeekverygently.She
oftenwonderedastowhatdearsortofawomanthattender-eyed,
pink-cheekedmotheroftheoldminiaturehadbeen--themotherwhohad
diedwhenshewastwoyearsold.Shelovedtheideaofher,vagueas
itwas.And,justnow,somehow,thenotionoftwogrownpeoplereading
Ouidadidnotstrikeherasbeingespeciallyridiculous.
"Wassheverybeautiful?"sheasked,softly.
"Mydear,"saidherfather,"youarethepictureofher."
"Youdangerousoldman!"saidshe,laughingandrubbinghercheek
againsthisinamannerthatmusthavebeenhighlyagreeable."Dear,
doyouknowthatisthenicestlittlecomplimentI'vehadforalong
time?"
ThereupontheColonelchuckled."Paymeforit,then,"saidhe,"by
drivingthedog-cartovertomeetBilly'strainto-day.Eh?"
"I--Ican't,"saidMissHugonin,promptly.
"Why?"demandedherfather.
"Because----"saidMissHugonin;andaftergivingthisreally


excellentreason,reflectedforamomentandstrengtheneditby
adding,"Because----"
"Seehere,"herfatherquestioned,"whatdidyoutwoquarrelabout,
anyway?"
"I--Ireallydon'tremember,"saidshe,reflectively;thencontinued,
withhauteurandsomeinconsistency,"IamnotawarethatMr.Woods
andIhaveeverquarrelled."
"Bygad,then,"saidtheColonel,"youmayaswellprepareto,for
IintendtomarryyoutoBillysomeday.Dear,dear,child,"he
interpolated,withmaliceaforethought,"haveyouafever?--your
cheek'slikeacoal.Billy'saman,Itellyou--worthadozenofyour
KennastonsandCharterises.IlikeBilly.Andbesides,it'sonlyright
heshouldhaveSelwoode--wasn'thebroughtuptoexpectit?It
ain'trightheshouldloseitsimplybecausehehadaquarrelwith
Frederick,for,bygad--nottospeakunkindlyofthedead,my
dear--Frederickquarrelledwitheveryoneheeverknew,fromthewoman
whonursedhimtothedoctorwhogavehimhislastpill.Hemayhave
gottenhisgeniusformoney-makingfromHeaven,buthecertainly
gothistemperfromthedevil.Ireallybelieve,"saidtheColonel,
reflectively,"itwasworsethanmine.Yes,notadoubtofit--I'ma
lambincomparison.Buthehadhisway,afterall;andevennowpoor
Billycan'tgetSelwoodewithouttakingyouwithit,"andhecaught
hisdaughter'sfacebetweenhishandsandturnedittowardhisfora
moment."Iwondernow,"saidhe,inmeditativewise,"ifBillywill
considerthatadrawback?"
Itseemedveryimprobable.Anynumberofmarriageablemaleswouldhave
swornitwasunthinkable.
However,"Ofcourse,"Margaretbegan,inacrispvoice,"ifyouadvise
Mr.Woodstomarrymeasagoodspeculation--"
Butherfathercaughtherup,withawhistle."Eh?"saidhe."Lovein
acottage?--isitthusthepoetturnshislay?That'sdamn'nonsense!
Itellyou,eveninacottagetheplumber'sbillhastobepaid,and
thegrocer'slittleaccountsettledeverymonth.Yes,bygad,and


evenifyouelecttoliveonbreadandcheeseandkisses,you'llfind
CamembertabitmoretoyourtastethanSweitzer."
"ButIdon'twanttomarryanybody,youridiculousolddear,"said
Margaret.
"Oh,verywell,"saidtheoldgentleman;"don't.Beanoldmaid,and
lecturebeforetheMothers'Club,ifyoulike.Idon'tcare.Anyhow,
youmeetBillyto-dayattwelve-forty-five.Youwill?--that'sagood
child.NowrunalongandtellthemenagerieI'llbedown-stairsas
soonasI'vefinisheddressing."
AndtheColonelrangforhismanandproceededtofinishhistoilet.
Heseemedathoughtabsent-mindedthismorning.
"Isay,Wilkins,"hequestioned,afteralittle."Everreadanyof
Ouida'sbooks?"
"Ho,yes,sir,"saidWilkins;"Miss'Enderson--Mrs.'Aggage'smaid,
thathis,sir--wasreadinghaloudhouthof'HunderTwoFlags'honly
lasthevening,sir."
"H'm--Wilkins--ifyoucanrunacrossoneofthemintheservants'
quarters--youmightleaveit--bymybed--to-night."
"Yes,sir."
"And--h'm,Wilkins--youcanputitunderthatbookofHerbert
Spencer'smydaughtergavemeyesterday.Underit,Wilkins--and,
h'm,Wilkins--youneedn'tmentionittoanybody.Ouidaain'tcultured,
Wilkins,butshe'sdamn'goodreading.Isupposethat'swhysheain't
cultured,Wilkins."

III
Andnowletusgobackalittle.Inaword,letusutilisethenext
twentyminutes--duringwhichMissHugonindrivestotheneighbouring


railwaystation,in,ifyoupressme,notthemostpleasantstateof
mindconceivable--byexplainingathoughtmorefullythepostureof
affairsatSelwoodeontheMaymorningthatstartsourstory.
AndtodothisImustcommencewiththenatureofthemanwhofounded
Selwoode.
Itwaswhenthenineteenthcenturywasstillaheartyoctogenarian
thatFrederickR.WoodscausedSelwoodetobebuilded.Igiveyouthe
namebywhichhewasknownon"theStreet."Amythologyhasgrown
aboutthenamesince,andstrangelegendsofitsownerarestill
narratedwherebrokerscongregate.Butwiththelambshesheared,and
thebullshedraggedtoearth,andthebearshegoredtofinancial
death,wehavenothingtodo;sufficeit,thatheperformedthese
operationswithalmostuniformsuccessandinanunimpeachably
respectablemanner.
Andif,inhistime,headdedmateriallytothelistsofinmatesin
variousasylumsandalmshouses,itmustbeacknowledgedthathebore
hisvictimsnomalice,andthatoneverySundaymorningheconfessed
himselftobeamiserablesinner,inavoicethatwasperfectly
audiblethreepewsoff.Atbottom,Ithinkheconsideredhisrelations
withHeavenonapurelybusinessbasis;hekeptaspeciesofrunning
accountwithProvidence;andifonoccasionsheoverdrewitsomewhat,
hesawnoincongruityineveningmatterswithachequeforthechurch
fund.
Sothatathisdeathitwassaidofhimthathehad,inhisday,sent
moremenintobankruptcyandmoremissionariesintoAfricathanany
othermaninthecountry.
Inhissixty-fifthyear,hecaughtAlfredVanOrdenshortinLard,
erectedamemorialwindowtohiswifeandbecameacountrygentleman.
HeneversetfootinWallStreetagain.HebuildedSelwoode--a
handsomeTudormanorwhichstandssomesevenmilesfromthevillageof
Fairhaven--wherehedweltinstate,byturnsaffableanddomineering
totheneighbouringfarmers,andevincingagraveinterestinthe
conditionoftheircrops.Henolongerturnedtothefinancialreports
inthepapers;andthepedigreeoftheWoodseshungintheliving-hall


forallmentosee,beginninggloriouslywithWoden,theScandinavian
god,andattainingarespectableculminationinthenamesofFrederick
R.WoodsandofWilliam,hisbrother.
Itisnottobesupposedthatheomittedtosupplyhimselfwitha
coat-of-arms.FrederickR.Woodsevincedanalmostchildlikepridein
hisheraldicblazonings.
"TheWoodsarms,"hewouldinformyou,witharelishinggusto,"are
vert,aneagledisplayed,barryargentandgules.Andthecrestis
outofaducalcoronet,or,ademi-eagleproper.Wehavenomotto,
sir--noneofyourancientcoatshavemottoes."
TheWoodsEaglehegloriedin.Thebirdwasperchedineveryavailable
nookatSelwoode;itwascarvedinthewoodwork,wassetinthe
mosaics,waschasedinthetableware,waswoveninthenapery,was
glazedintheverychina.Turnwhereyouwould,aneagleortwo
confrontedyou;andHunstonWyke,whoisaccountedsomethingofa
wit,sworethatFrederickR.WoodsatSelwooderemindedhimof"a
sore-headedbearwhohadtakenuppermanentquartersinanaviary."
Therewasone,however,whofoundthebearnoveryuntractable
monster.Thiswasthesonofhisbrother,deadnow,whodweltat
Selwoodeasheirpresumptive.FrederickR.Woods'swifehaddiedlong
ago,leavinghimchildless.Hisbrother'sboywasanorphan;andso,
foratime,heandthegrimoldmanlivedtogetherpeaceablyenough.
Indeed,BillyWoodswasinthosedaysasfinealadasyouwouldwish
tosee,withtheeyesofaninquisitivecherubandabigtow-head,
whichFrederickR.Woodsfellintothehabitofcuffingheartily,in
ordertoconcealthefactthathewouldhaveburnedSelwoodetothe
groundratherthanallowanyoneelsetoinjureahairofit.
Intheconsummationoftime,Billy,havingattainedtheripeageof
eighteen,announcedtohisunclethatheintendedtobecomeafamous
painter.FrederickR.Woodsexhortedhimnottobeafool,andpacked
himofftocollege.
BillyWoodsreturnedonhisfirstvacationwithafragmentarymustache
andanyquantityofpaint-tubes,canvases,palettes,mahl-sticks,and


such-likeparaphernalia.FrederickR.Woodspassedoverthemustache,
andhadthepainters'trappingsburnedbythesecondfootman.Billy
promptlypurchasedanotherlot.Hisunclecameuponthemonemorning,
rubbedhischinmeditativelyforamoment,andlaughedforthefirst
time,sofarasknown,inhislifetime;thenhetiptoedtohisown
apartments,lestBilly--thelazyyoungrascalwasstillabedinthe
nextroom--shouldawakenanddiscoverhisknowledgeofthisactof
flatrebellion.
Idaresaytheoldgentlemanwassocompletelyaccustomedtohaving
hisownwaythatthisunlooked-foroppositiontickledhimbyits
novelty;orperhapsherecognisedinBillyanobstinacyakintohis
own;orperhapsitwasmerelythathelovedtheboy.Inanyevent,he
neveragainalludedtothesubject;anditisafactthatwhen
Billysentforcarpenterstoconvertanupperroomintoanatelier,
FrederickR.WoodsspenttwolonganddrearyweeksinBostoninorder
toremaininignoranceoftheentireaffair.
Billyscrambledthroughcollege,somehow,intheallottedfouryears.
Attheendofthattime,hereturnedtofindnewinmatesinstalledat
Selwoode.
ForthewifeofFrederickR.Woodshadbeenbeforehermarriageoneof
thebeautifulAnstruthersisters,who,ascertainNewYorkersstill
remember--thosegrizzled,portly,rosy-gilledfellowswhoprattle
onprovocationofJennyLindandCastleGarden,andremember
everything--createdapronouncedfurorattheirdébutinthedaysof
crinolineandtheGrecianbend;andMargaretAnstruther,asthey
willtellyou,wasmarriedtoThomasHugonin,thenagallantcavalry
officerintheserviceofHerMajesty,theEmpressofIndia.
Andshemusthavebeenthenicerofthetwo,becauseeverybodywho
knewhersaysthatMargaretHugoninisexactlylikeher.
Soitcameaboutnaturallyenough,thatBillyWoods,nowanArtium
Baccalaureus_,ifyouplease,andnotalittleproudofit,foundthe
Colonelandhisdaughter,thenonavisittothiscountry,installed
atSelwoodeasguestsandquasi-relatives.AndBillywastwenty-two,
andMargaretwasnineteen.


*****
PreciselywhathappenedIamunabletotellyou.BillyWoodsclaims
itisnoneofmybusiness;andMargaretsaysthatitwasalong,long
timeagoandshereallycan'tremember.
ButIfancywecanallformaveryfairnotionofwhatismostlikely
tooccurwhentwosensible,normal,healthyyoungpeoplearethrown
togetherinthisintimatefashionatacountry-housewherethe
remainingcompanyconsistsoftwoelderlygentlemen.Billywasforced
tobepolitetohisuncle'sguest;andMargaretcouldn'twellbe
discourteoustoherhost'snephew,couldshe?Ofcoursenot:so
itbefellinthecourseoftimethatFrederickR.Woodsandthe
Colonel--whohadquicklybecomeagreatfavourite,byvirtueofhis
implicitfaithintheEagleandinWodenandSirPercivaldeWodeof
Hastings,andsuch-likeflightsofheraldicfancy,andhadaugmented
hispopularitybyhisreallybrilliantsuggestionofWynkyndeWorde,
thefamoussixteenth-centuryprinter,asaprobablecollateral
relationofthefamily--itcametopass,Isay,thatthetwogentlemen
noddedovertheirportandchuckled,andwinkedatoneanotherand
agreedthatthethingwoulddo.
Thiswasallverywell;buttheyfailedtomakeallowancesforthe
inevitablequarrelandthesubsequentspectacleofthegentleman
contemplatingsuicideandtheladylookingwistfullytowardanunnery.
Inthiscaseitarose,Ibelieve,overTeddyAnstruther,whofora
cousinwasundeniablyveryattentivetoMargaret;andinthenatural
courseofeventstheywouldhavemadeitupbeforetheweekwasout
hadnotFrederickR.Woodsselectedthisverymomenttointerferein
thematter.
Ah,sivieillessesavait!
TheblunderingoldmansummonedBillyintohisstudyandorderedhim
tomarryMargaretHugonin,preciselyastheColonelmighthaveordered
aprivatetogoonsentry-duty.TendaysearlierBillywouldhave
jumpedatthechance;tendayslaterhewouldprobablyhavesuggested
ithimself;butatthatexactmomenthewouldhaveaswillingly


contemplatedmatrimonywithAlectoorMedusaoranyoftheFuries.
Accordingly,hedeclined.FrederickR.Woodsflewintoapyrotechnical
displayoftemper,andgavehimhischoicebetweenobeyinghis
commandsandleavinghishouseforever--thechoice,infact,whichhe
hadbeenaccordingBillyatverybriefintervalseversincetheboy
hadhadthemeasles,fifteenyearsbefore,andhadrefusedtotakethe
propermedicines.
Itwasmerelyhisusualmannerofexpressingarequestora
suggestion.Butthistime,tohisutterhorrorandamaze,theboytook
himathiswordandleftSelwoodewithinthehour.
Billy'slife,yousee,wasirrevocablyblighted.Itmatteredvery
littlewhatbecameofhim;personally,hedidn'tcareintheleast.
Butasforthatfair,false,ficklewoman--perishthethought!Sooner
athousanddeaths!No,hewouldgotoParisandbecomeapainterof
worldwidereputation;themoneyhisfatherhadlefthimwouldeasily
sufficeforhissimplewants.Andsomeday,theobservedofall
observersinsomebrighthallofgaiety,hewouldpasshercoldlyby,
withacynicalsmileuponhislips,andshewouldgrowpaleandtotter
andfallintothearmsofthebloatedSilenus,forwhosetitleshehad
barteredherpurelysuperficialcharms.
Yes,uponmaturedeliberation,thatwaspreciselywhatBillydecided
todo.
FolloweddarkdaysatSelwoode.FrederickR.WoodstoldMargaretof
whathadoccurred;andheaddedtheinformationthat,ashiswife's
nearestrelative,heintendedtomakeherhisheir.
ThenMargaretdidwhatIwouldscarcelyhaveexpectedofMargaret.
SheturneduponhimlikeaviragoandinformedFrederickR.Woods
preciselywhatshethoughtofhim;sheacquaintedhimwiththefact
thathewasasordid,low-minded,graspingbeast,andamiser,and
atyrant,and(Ithink)aparricide;shenotifiedhimthathewas
thoroughlyunworthytowipethedustoffhisnephew'sshoes--an
officetowardwhich,todohimjustice,hehadnevershownanymarked
aspirations--andthatBillyhadactedthroughoutinamostnobleand
sensiblemanner;andthat,personally,shewouldn'tmarryBillyWoods


ifhewerethelastmanonearth,forshehadalwaysdespisedhim;and
sheaddedtheinformationthatsheexpectedtodieshortly,andshe
hopedtheywouldbothbesorrythen;andsubsequentlysheclapped
theclimaxbythrowingherarmsabouthisneckandburstingintotears
andtellinghimhewasthedearestoldmanintheworldandthatshe
wasthoroughlyashamedofherself.
Sotheykissedandmadeitup.AndafteralittletheColoneland
MargaretwentawayfromSelwoode,andFrederickR.Woodswasleft
alonetonourishhisangerandindignation,ifhecould,andtohunger
forhisboy,whetherhewouldornot.Hewastooproudtoseekhim
out;indeed,heneverthoughtofthat;andsohewaitedaloneinhis
finehouse,sickatheart,impotent,hopingagainsthopethattheboy
wouldcomeback.Theboynevercame.
No,theboynevercame,becausehewaswhattheoldmanhadmade
him--headstrong,andwilful,andobstinate.Billyhadbeenthoroughly
spoiled.Theoldmanhadnurturedhispride,hadapplaudeditasa
markofproperspirit;andnowitwasthissamepridethathadrobbed
himoftheonethinghelovedinalltheworld.
So,atlast,theweakpointinthearmourofthissturdyoldPharisee
wasfound,andFatehadpierceditgaily.Itwasretribution,ifyou
will;andIthinkthatnoneofhisvictimsin"theStreet,"noneof
thecountlesswidowsandorphansthathehadmade,sufferedmore
bitterlythanheinthoselastdays.
ItwasalmosttwoyearsafterBilly'sdeparturefromSelwoodethathis
body-servant,comingtorouseFrederickR.WoodsoneJunemorning,
foundhimdeadinhisrooms.Hehadbeenailingforsometime.It
washisheart,thedoctorssaid;andIthinkthatitwas,thoughnot
preciselyinthesensewhichtheymeant.
Themanfoundhimseatedbeforehisgreatcarveddesk,onwhichhis
headandshouldershadfallenforward;theyrestedonasheetof
legal-cappaperhalf-coveredwithacalculationinhiscrabbedold
handastothevalueofcertainproperties--thecalculationwhichhe
neverfinished;andunderneathwasamassofmiscellaneouspapers,
amongthemhiswill,datedthedayafterBillyleftSelwoode,inwhich


FrederickR.WoodsbequeathedhismillionsunconditionallytoMargaret
Hugoninwhensheshouldcomeofage.
Hertwenty-firstbirthdayhadfallenintheprecedingmonth.So
MargaretwasoneoftherichestwomeninAmerica;andyoumaydepend
uponit,thatifmanymenhadlovedherbefore,theyworshippedher
now--or,atleast,saidtheydid,and,afterall,theirprotestations
weretheonlymeansshehadofjudging.Shemighthavebeena
countess--anditmustbeownedthattheoldColonel,whohadanhonest
Anglo-Saxonreverenceforatitle,sawthischancelostwistfully--and
shemighthavemarriedanynumberofgrammarlessgentlemen,personally
unknowntoher,whoseferventproposalsalmosteverymailbroughtin;
andbesidesthese,thereweremanyothers,moreorthodoxintheir
wooing,someofwhomweregenuinelyinlovewithMargaretHugonin,and
some--Igrievetoadmitit--whoweregenuinelyinlovewithhermoney;
andshewouldhavenoneofthem.
Sherefusedthemallwiththeutmostcivility,asIhappentoknow.
HowIlearneditisnoaffairofyours.
ForMissHugoninhadremarkablykeeneyes,whichsheusedto
advantage.Intheworldabouthertheydiscoveredverylittlethatshe
couldadmire.Shewasnonethehappierforherwealth;thepiled-up
millionsovershadowedherpersonality;anditwasnotlongbeforeshe
knewthatmostpeopleregardedhersimplyastheheiressoftheWoods
fortune--anunavoidableencumbranceattachedtotheproperty,which
diversthrifty-mindedgentlemenwerewillingtoputupwith.Toputup
with!--atthethought,herprideroseinahotblush,and,itmustbe
confessed,shesoughtconsolationinthelooking-glass.
Shewasanhumble-mindedyoungwoman,asthesexgoes,andshesawno
greatreasontherewhyamanshouldgomadoverMargaretHugonin.This
decision,Igrantyou,waspreposterous,fortherewereanynumberof
reasons.Herfinalconclusion,however,wasforthefuturetoregard
allmenasfortune-huntersandtodoherhairdifferently.
Shecarriedoutbothresolutions.Whenagentlemangrewpressingin
hisattentions,shemorethansuspectedhismotives;andwhenshe
eventuallydeclinedhimitwasdonewithperfect,courtesy,butthe


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