Arnold returned to his studio, sat down and fell fast asleep.
He was awakened about noon by his Cousin Clara.
“Oh, Arnold,” she cried, shaking him wrathfully by the arm, “this is a moment of the greatest excitement and importance to me, and you are my only adviser, and you are asleep!”
He sprung to his feet.
“I am awake now, Clara. Anxiety and trouble? On account of our talk yesterday?”
He saw that she had been crying. In her hands she had a packet of letters.
“Oh, no, no; it is far more important than that. As for our talk—”
“I am engaged to her, Clara.”
“So I expected,” she replied coldly. “But I am not come here about your engagement. And you do not want my congratulations, I suppose?”
“I should like to have your good wishes, Clara.”
“Oh, Arnold, that is what my poor Claude said when he deserted me and married the governess. You men want to have your own way, and then expect us to be delighted with it.”
“I expect nothing, Clara. Pray understand that.”
“I told Claude, when he wrote asking forgiveness, that he had my good wishes, whatever he chose to do, but that I would not on any account receive his wife. Very well, Arnold; that is exactly what I say to you.”
“Very well, Clara. I quite understand. As for the studio, and all the things that you have given me, they are, of course, yours again. Let me restore what I can to you.”
“No, Arnold, they are yours. Let me hear no more about things that are your own. Of course, your business, as you call it, is exciting. But as for this other thing, it is far more important. Something has happened; something I always expected; something that I looked forward to for years; although it has waited on the way so long, it has actually come at last, when I had almost forgotten to look for it. So true it is, Arnold, that good fortune and misfortune alike come when we least expect them.”
Arnold sat down. He knew his cousin too well to interrupt her. She had her own way of telling a story, and it was a roundabout way.
“I cannot complain, after twenty years, can I? I have had plenty of rope, as you would say. But still it has come at last. And naturally, when it does come, it is a shock.”
“Is it hereditary gout, Clara?”
“Gout! Nonsense, Arnold! When the will was read, I said to myself, ’Claude is certain to come back and claim his own. It is his right, and I hope he will come. But for my own part, I have not the least intention of calling upon the governess.’ Then three or four years passed away, and I heard—I do not remember how—that he was dead. And then I waited for his heirs, his children, or their guardians. But they did not come.”
“And now they have really come? Oh, Clara, this is indeed a misfortune.”