Miss Lynde said to Jeff, “My brother, Mr. Durgin,” and then she added to the other, “You ought to ring first, Arthur, and try your key afterward.”
“The key’s all right,” said the young man, without paying any attention to Jeff beyond a glance of recognition; he turned his back, and waited for the door to be opened.
His sister suggested, with an amiability which Jeff felt was meant in reparation to him, “Perhaps a night latch never works before dark—or very well before midnight.” The door was opened, and she said to Jeff, with winning entreaty, “Won’t you come in, Mr. Durgin?”
Jeff excused himself, for he perceived that her politeness was not so much an invitation to him as a defiance to her brother; he gave her credit for no more than it was worth, and he did not wish any the less to get even with her because of it.
At dinner, in the absence of the butler, Alan Lynde attacked his sister across the table for letting herself be seen with a jay, who was not only a jay, but a cad, and personally so offensive to most of the college men that he had never got into a decent club or society; he had been suspended the first year, and if he had not had the densest kind of cheek he would never have come back. Lynde said he would like to know where she had picked the fellow up.
She answered that she had picked him up, if that was the phrase he liked, at Mrs. Bevidge’s; and then Alan swore a little, so as not to be heard by their aunt, who sat at the head of the table, and looked down its length between them, serenely ignorant, in her slight deafness, of what was going on between them. To her perception Alan was no more vehement than usual, and Bessie no more smilingly self-contained. He said he supposed that it was some more of Lancaster’s damned missionary work, then, and he wondered that a gentleman like Morland had ever let Lancaster work such a jay in on him; he had seen her ‘afficher’ herself with the fellow at Morland’s tea; he commanded her to stop it; and he professed to speak for her good.
Bessie returned that she knew how strongly he felt from the way he had misbehaved when she introduced him to Mr. Durgin, but that she supposed he had been at the club and his nerves were unstrung. Was that the reason, perhaps, why he could not make his latchkey work? Mr. Durgin might be a cad, and she would not say he was not a jay, but so far he had not sworn at her; and, if he had been suspended and come back, there were some people who had not been suspended or come back, either, though that might have been for want of cheek.
She ended by declaring she was used to going into society without her brother’s protection, or even his company, and she would do her best to get on without his advice. Or was it his conduct he wished her to profit by?
It had come to the fish going out by this time, and Alan, who had eaten with no appetite, and drunken feverishly of apollinaris, flung down his napkin and went out, too.