“I thank you, Mr. Morris,” said Calvert, shaking his head, “but—but ’tis impossible for me to leave France.”
“Ah, ’tis as I thought,” said Mr. Morris, slowly, “and Madame de St. Andre is a most charming and beautiful woman. Forgive me for having guessed your secret, boy. ’Tis my interest in you which makes me seem impertinent. Have you told her that you love her?”
“’Tis a poor game to tell all one knows,” says Calvert, again shaking his head and smiling a little bitterly. “Besides, it would be but folly in this case.”
“Folly!” exclaimed Mr. Morris. “Don’t be above committing follies, Ned! Old age will be but a dreary thing if we have not the follies of youth to look back upon. Happiness and folly go hand in hand sometimes. Don’t miss one in avoiding the other, boy! Besides, why do you call your love for her folly? By the Lord Harry,” he burst out, “why shouldn’t she love you in return? ’Tis true you are not one of the dukes or marquises who follow her about, but I think that no disability, and, were she not a capricious, worldly woman, she would have the wit vastly to prefer a clean, honest American gentleman to these dissolute popinjays, whose titles, riches, and very life are being menaced. Were I a woman, Ned,” and he gave the young man a kindly look, “I think I could find it in my heart to admire and respect you above most men.”
“’Tis far more than I can hope for in Madame de St. Andre, and it has been madness for me to think of her for a moment,” said Calvert, gloomily.
“Then come away,” urged Mr. Morris. “Come with me to London.” But Calvert was not to be persuaded.
“You counselled me a while ago not to be afraid of committing follies,” he said, looking at the older man. “I think I am capable of all folly—I don’t dare hope, but I cannot leave her.”
“Ah, you are not as wise as I, my boy,” returned Mr. Morris, smiling cynically. “You stay because you care too much and I go for the same reason. Believe me, mine is the better plan. But if you stay, speak! Perhaps, after all, she may have the sense to appreciate you. Though she is worldly and ambitious, there is a leaven of sincerity and purity in her nature, I think. And then, who can guess what is in a woman’s heart? ’Tis the greatest of puzzles. Who knows what you may find in Adrienne de St. Andre’s, Ned? She is a high-spirited creature, trained in her world to conceal her feelings, should she be unfashionable enough to have any, and perhaps the indifference with which she treats you is but a mask. There are women like that, boy, who are as great actresses as Raucourt or Contat, and who would die before they betrayed themselves, just as there are women to whom candor is as natural as breathing and who can no more help showing the depth and tenderness of their hearts than the sun can help shining. And now,” he said, rising as Mr. Jefferson entered the room, “I must be going or I shall be imprudent enough to make some observations on the extraordinary proceedings of this evening.”