But now, the subject was soon forgotten, and they fell to talking about the dresses once more; nor was the topic by any means exhausted when they were interrupted by the professor’s voice calling to them from below.
A business transaction.
Professor Valeyon led the way to the study, stood his cane in the corner, and placed a chair for his guest, in silence. “Just like his father!” said he to himself, as he repaired to the mantel-piece for his pipe; “not a bit of his mother about him. Who’d have thought so sickly a baby as they said he was, would have grown into such a giant?—Smoke?” he added, aloud.
“You must talk loud to me—I’m deaf,” said the young man, with his hand to his ear.
“Pleasant thing in a pupil, that!” muttered the old gentleman, as he filled his pipe and lit it. “How it reminds one of his father—that bright questioning look, when he leans forward! One might know who he was by that and nothing else!” He sat down in his chair, and ruminated a moment.
“Hardly expected you up here so soon after your loss,” observed he, in as kindly a tone and manner as was comportable with speaking in a very loud key.
“Loss! I’ve had no loss!” returned Bressant, with a look of perplexity. “Oh! you mean my father!” he exclaimed, suddenly, throwing his head back with a half-smile. He very seldom laughed aloud. “There was nothing to do. The funeral was the day before yesterday. I did all the business before then. Yesterday I packed up, and here I am!”
“Death couldn’t have been unexpected, I presume?” said the professor, on whom Bressant’s manner made an impression of resignation to his loss rather too complete.
“The hour of death can only be a matter of guess-work at any time,” returned the young man. “My father had been expecting to die for some months past; but he’d been mistaken once or twice before, and I thought he might be this time. But he happened to guess right.”
“Filial way of talking, that,” thought Professor Valeyon, rather taken aback. “Didn’t get that from his father; he was soft spoken enough, in all conscience! Queer now, this matter of resemblance! there’s a certain something in his style of speaking, and in the way he looks just after he has spoken, that reminds me of Mrs. Margaret. Deaf people are all something alike, though; and he’s been with her a great deal, I suppose. Well, well! as to the way he spoke about his father, what looked like indifference may have been merely embarrassment, or an attempt to disguise feeling; or perhaps it was but a deaf man’s peculiarity. At all events, it can do no harm to suppose so.”
“Were you with him during his last moments?” asked he.
“Oh, yes! I saw him die,” answered Bressant, nodding, and pulling his close-cut brown beard.