Patricia had not been well since little Roger’s birth.
It was a peaked and shrewish Patricia, rather than Rudolph Musgrave, who fought out the long and obstinate battle with Roger Stapylton.
She was jealous at the bottom of her heart. She would not have anyone, not even her father, be too fond of what was preeminently hers; the world at large, including Rudolph Musgrave, was at liberty to adore her boy, as was perfectly natural, but not to meddle: and in fine, Patricia was both hysterical and vixenish whenever a giving up of the Library work was suggested.
The old man did not quarrel with her. And with Roger Stapylton’s loneliness in these days, and the long thoughts it bred, we have nothing here to do. But when he died, stricken without warning, some five years after Patricia’s marriage, his will was discovered to bequeath practically his entire fortune to little Roger Musgrave when the child should come of age; and to Rudolph Musgrave, as Patricia’s husband, what was a reasonable income when judged by Lichfield’s unexacting standards rather than by Patricia’s anticipations. In a word, Patricia found that she and the colonel could for the future count upon a little more than half of the income she had previously been allowed by Roger Stapylton.
“It isn’t fair!” she said. “It’s monstrous! And all because you were so obstinate about your picayune Library!”
“Patricia—” he began.
“Oh, I tell you it’s absurd, Olaf! The money logically ought to have been left to me. And here I will have to come to you for every penny of my money. And Heaven knows I have had to scrimp enough to support us all on what I used to have—Olaf,” Patricia said, in another voice, “Olaf! why, what is it, dear?”
“I was reflecting,” said Colonel Musgrave, “that, as you justly observe, both Agatha and I have been practically indebted to you for our support these past five years—”
It must be enregistered, not to the man’s credit, but rather as a simple fact, that it was never within Colonel Musgrave’s power to forget the incident immediately recorded.
He forgave; when Patricia wept, seeing how leaden-colored his handsome face had turned, he forgave as promptly and as freely as he was learning to pardon the telling of a serviceable lie, or the perpetration of an occasional barbarism in speech, by Patricia. For he, a Musgrave of Matocton, had married a Stapylton; he had begun to comprehend that their standards were different, and that some daily conflict between these standards was inevitable.
And besides, as it has been veraciously observed, the truth of an insult is the barb which prevents its retraction. Patricia spoke the truth: Rudolph Musgrave and all those rationally reliant upon Rudolph Musgrave for support, had lived for some five years upon the money which they owed to Patricia. He saw about him other scions of old families who accepted such circumstances blithely: but, he said, he was a Musgrave of Matocton; and, he reflected, in the kingdom of the blind the one-eyed is necessarily very unhappy.