Rosedale had been a bed of thorns to Wesley Boone since his recovery. He felt that he was an incongruous visitor among the rest, as a hawk might feel in a dove-cote. He would have willingly returned to Richmond—even at the risk of re-entering the prison—if Kate had not been on his hands. The life of the place, the constant necessity of masking his aversion to the Spragues, his detestation of Dick, the simple merry-making and intimate amenities of such close quarters, tasked his small art of dissimulation beyond even the most practiced powers. The garment of duplicity was gossamer, he felt, after all, in such atmosphere of loyalty and trust as surrounded him at Rosedale.
He knew that in the daily attrition and conventional intimacies of the table, the drawing-room, or the promenade, the cloak covering his resentful antipathy, his moral perversities, his thinly veiled impatience, was worn to such thin shreds that eyes keen as Jack’s must see and know him as he was. What was hatefulest and most unendurable of all was the bondage of truce in which the Atterburys held him. Wesley was no coward, and he ached to meet Jack face to face, arm to arm, and settle with that thoughtless insubordinate a rankling list of griefs heaped up in moments of over-vivacious frankness. He would make Jack smart for his arrogance, his insolence, his cursed condescension so soon as they were back among the Caribees.
But meanwhile, here, daily tortured by harmless things—tortured by his soul’s imaginings—Wesley was becoming a burden to Kate, who saw too plainly that he was in misery, and realized that it was largely through his own inherent weakness and insincerity. He had all the coarse fiber of his father without the same force in its texture. With merely superficial good manners, he was never certain whether the punctilious niceties observed toward him by the Spragues and Atterburys were not a species of studied satire. Vincent, who had never shown him the slightest consideration in Acredale, treated him here with the chivalrous decorum that the code of the South demanded in those days to a guest. Wesley ground his teeth under the burden, not quite sure whether it was mockery or malevolence. He watched with malignant attentiveness the imperceptible change of tone and manner that marked the family’s treatment of the Spragues. There was none of the grave ceremoniousness he resented in the Atterburys’ behavior with them.
Jack was a hobbledehoy son of the house, almost as much as Vincent. Kate, too, was, he felt certain, treated with a reserve not shown to Mrs. Sprague or Merry. Brooding on this, brooding on the unhappiness of his own disposition, which denied him the privilege of enjoying the best at the moment, indifferent to what might be behind, Wesley had come to hate the Atterburys for the burden of an obligation that he