“All that is not serious, you know, and here is what I am come to tell you. An opportunity presents itself to you, a double-swing door opening into the future. The Bethlehem Society is founded. The most splendid of my philanthropic dreams has taken body. We have just purchased a superb villa at Nanterre for the housing of our first establishment. It is the care, the management of this house that I have thought of intrusting to you as to an alter ego. A princely dwelling, the salary of the commander of a division, and the satisfaction of a service rendered to the great human family. Say one word, and I take you to see the Nabob, the great-hearted man who defrays the expense of our undertaking. Do you accept?”
“No,” said the other so curtly that Jenkins was somewhat put out of countenance.
“Just so. I was prepared for this refusal when I came here. But I am come nevertheless. I have taken for motto, ‘To do good without hope,’ and I remain faithful to my motto. So then, it is understood you prefer to the honourable, worthy, and profitable existence which I have just proposed to you, a life of hazard without aim and without dignity?”
Andre answered nothing, but his silence spoke for him.
“Take care. You know what that decision will involve, a definitive estrangement, but you have always wanted that. I need not tell you,” continued Jenkins, “that to break with me is to break off relations also with your mother. She and I are one.”
The young man turned pale, hesitated a moment, then said with effort:
“If it please my mother to come to see me here, I shall be delighted, certainly. But my determination to quit your house, to have no longer anything in common with you, is irrevocable.”
“And will you at least say why?”
He made a negative sign; he would not say.
For once the Irishman felt a genuine impulse of anger. His whole face assumed a cunning, savage expression which would have very much astonished those that only knew the good and loyal Jenkins; but he took good care not to push further an explanation which he feared perhaps as much as he desired it.
“Adieu,” said he, half turning his head on the threshold. “And never apply to us.”
“Never,” replied his stepson in a firm voice.
This time, when the doctor had said to Joey, “Place Vendome,” the horse, as though he had understood that they were going to the Nabob’s, gave a proud shake to his glittering curb-chains, and the brougham set off at full speed, transforming each axle of its wheels into sunshine. “To come so far to get a reception like that! A celebrity of the time to be treated thus by that Bohemian! One may try indeed to do good!” Jenkins gave vent to his anger in a long monologue of this character, then suddenly rousing himself, exclaimed, “Ah, bah!” and what anxiety there was remaining on his brow quickly vanished on the pavement of the Place