But Ovide smilingly restored the thing to its stack. “Now,” he said, “’tis Mr. Chester’s logic that fails.” Yet as he turned to a customer he let Chester take it down.
“My job requires me,” the youth said, “to study character. Let’s see what a grand’mere of a ’tite-fille, situated so and so, will do.”
Ovide escorted his momentary customer to the sidewalk door. As he returned, Chester, rolling map and magazine together, said:
“It’s getting dark. No, don’t make a light, it’s your closing time and I’ve a strict engagement. Here’s a deposit for this magazine; a fifty. It’s all I have—oh, yes, take it, we’ll trade back to-morrow. You must keep your own rules and I must read this thing before I touch my bed.”
“Even the first few lines absorb you?”
“No, far from it. Look here.” Chester read out: “‘Now, Maud,’ said my uncle—Oh, me! Landry, if the tale’s true why that old story-book pose?”
“It may be that the writer preferred to tell it as fiction, and that only something in me told me ’tis true. Something still tells me so.”
“‘Now, Maud,’” Chester smilingly thought to himself when, the evening’s later engagement being gratifyingly fulfilled, he sat down with the story. “And so you were grand’mere to our Royal Street miracle. And you had a Southern uncle! So had I! though yours was a planter, mine a lawyer, and yours must have been fifty years the older. Well, ’Now, Maud,’ for my absorption!”
It came. Though the tale was unamazing amazement came. The four chief characters were no sooner set in motion than Chester dropped the pamphlet to his knee, agape in recollection of a most droll fact a year or two old, which now all at once and for the first time arrested his attention. He also had a manuscript! That lawyer uncle of his, saying as he spared him a few duplicate volumes from his law library, “Burn that if you don’t want it,” had tossed him a fat document indorsed: “Memorandum of an Early Experience.” Later the nephew had glanced it over, but, like “Maud’s” story, its first few lines had annoyed his critical sense and he had never read it carefully. The amazing point was that “Now, Maud” and this “Memorandum” most incredibly—with a ridiculous nicety—fitted each other.
He lifted the magazine again and, beginning at the beginning a third time, read with a scrutiny of every line as though he studied a witness’s deposition. And this was what he read:
THE CLOCK IN THE SKY
“Now, Maud,” said uncle jovially as he, aunt, and I drove into the confines of their beautiful place one spring afternoon of 1860, “don’t forget that to be too near a thing is as bad for a good view of it as to be too far away.”