Mrs. March plucked her hand from his arm. “I don’t, one bit. He was thoroughly selfish from first to last. He has got just what he deserved.”
“Ah, very likely,” said her husband. “The question is about Burnamy’s part in giving him his deserts; he had to leave him to them, of course.”
The general fixed her with the impenetrable glitter of his eye-glasses, and left the subject as of no concern to him. “I believe,” he said, rising, “I’ll have a look at some of your papers,” and he went into the reading-room.
“Now,” said Mrs. March, “he will go home and poison that poor girl’s mind. And, you will have yourself to thank for prejudicing him against Burnamy.”
“Then why didn’t you do it yourself, my dear?” he teased; but he was really too sorry for the whole affair, which he nevertheless enjoyed as an ethical problem.
The general looked so little at the papers that before March went off for his morning walk he saw him come out of the reading-room and take his way down the Alte Wiese. He went directly back to his daughter, and reported Burnamy’s behavior with entire exactness. He dwelt upon his making the best of a bad business in refusing to help Stoller out of it, dishonorably and mendaciously; but he did not conceal that it was a bad business.
“Now, you know all about it,” he said at the end, “and I leave the whole thing to you. If you prefer, you can see Mrs. March. I don’t know but I’d rather you’d satisfy yourself—”
“I will not see Mrs. March. Do you think I would go back of you in that way? I am satisfied now.”
Instead of Burnamy, Mrs. Adding and her son now breakfasted with the Marches at the Posthof, and the boy was with March throughout the day a good deal. He rectified his impressions of life in Carlsbad by March’s greater wisdom and experience, and did his best to anticipate his opinions and conform to his conclusions. This was not easy, for sometimes he could not conceal from himself, that March’s opinions were whimsical, and his conclusions fantastic; and he could not always conceal from March that he was matching them with Kenby’s on some points, and suffering from their divergence. He came to join the sage in his early visit to the springs, and they walked up and down talking; and they went off together on long strolls in which Rose was proud to bear him company. He was patient of the absences from which he was often answered, and he learned to distinguish between the earnest and the irony of which March’s replies seemed to be mixed. He examined him upon many features of German civilization, but chiefly upon the treatment of women in it; and upon this his philosopher was less satisfactory than he could have wished him to be. He tried to excuse his trifling as an escape from the painful stress of questions which he found so afflicting himself; but in the matter of the woman-and-dog teams, this was not easy. March owned that the notion of their being yokemates was shocking; but he urged that it was a stage of evolution, and a distinct advance upon the time when women dragged the carts without the help of the dogs; and that the time might not be far distant when the dogs would drag the carts without the help of the women.