“Say she’s a harpy, and tell her to go to the—”
“My dear, like Mr. F.’s aunt, ‘I hate a fool.’ Oh, I’ll tell you what to say: Say, ‘Mr. F.’s aunt will send her a wedding present.’ That’s friendly, isn’t it?”
“Better not be too literary in public,” his wife cautioned him, with a significant glance at Edith, who was all ears.
When, laughing, they left the table, their daughter scraping her plate, pondered thus: “I suppose Mr. F. is the Bride’s father. I wonder what present his aunt will give her? I wonder what ‘F’ stands for—Frost? Fuller? Father and mother don’t want the Bride to come; and mother thinks the Bride don’t want to come. So why should they ask her to come? And why should she come? I wouldn’t,” Edith said; “but I hope she will, for I love her! And oh, I hope she’ll bring her harp! I’ve never seen a harpy. But people are funny,” Edith summed it up; “inviting people and not wanting ’em; and visiting ’em and not wanting to. It ain’t sense,” said Edith.
In spite of his declaration of indifference to the feelings of his guardian, the married boy was rapidly acquiring that capacity for “worry” which Mr. Houghton desired to develop in him. What would the mail bring him from Green Hill? It brought nothing for a week—a week in which he experienced certain bad moments which encouraged “worry” to a degree that made his face distinctly older than on that morning under the locust tree, when he had been married for fifty-four minutes. The first of these educating moments came on Monday, when he went to see his tutor, to say that he was—well, he was going to stop grinding.
“What?” said Mr. Bradley, puzzled.
“I’m going to chuck college, sir,” Maurice said, and smiled broadly, with the rollicking certainty of sympathy that a puppy shows when approaching an elderly mastiff.
“Chuck college! What’s the matter?” the mastiff said, putting a protecting hand over his helpless leg, for Maurice’s restlessness—tramping about, his hands in his pockets—was a menace to the plastered member.
“I’m going into business,” the youngster said; “I—Well; I’ve got married, and—”
“—so, of course, I’ve got to go to work.”
“See here, what are you talking about?”
The uneasy color sprang into Maurice’s face, he stood still, and the grin disappeared. When he said explicitly what he was “talking about,” Mr. Bradley’s angry consternation was like the unexpected snap of the old dog; it made Eleanor’s husband feel like the puppy. “I ought to have rounded him up,” Mr. Bradley was saying to himself; “Houghton will hold me responsible!” And even while making unpleasant remarks to the bridegroom, he was composing, in his mind, a letter to Mr. Houghton about the helplessness incidental to a broken leg, which accounted for his failure in “rounding up.” “I couldn’t get on to his trail!” he was exonerating himself.