I went up to my father. His plight was more desperate than mine, for I had resembled the condemned before the firing-party, to whom the expected bullet brings a merely physical shock. He, poor man, heard his sentence, which is the heart’s pang of death; and how fondly and rootedly he had clung to the idea of my marriage with the princess was shown in his extinction after this blow.
My grandfather chose the moment as a fitting one to ask me for the last time to take my side.
I replied, without offence in the tones of my voice, that I thought my father need not lose me into the bargain, after what he had suffered that day.
He just as quietly rejoined with a recommendation to me to divorce myself for good and all from a scoundrel.
I took my father’s arm: he was not in a state to move away unsupported.
My aunt Dorothy stood weeping; Janet was at the window, no friend to either of us.
I said to her, ‘You have your wish.’
She shook her head, but did not look back.
My grandfather watched me, step by step, until I had reached the door.
‘You’re going, are you?’ he said. ‘Then I whistle you off my fingers!’
An attempt to speak was made by my father in the doorway. He bowed wide of the company, like a blind man. I led him out.
Dimness of sight spared me from seeing certain figures, which were at the toll-bar of the pier, on the way to quit our shores. What I heard was not of a character to give me faith in the sanity of the companion I had chosen. He murmured it at first to himself:
‘Waddy shall have her monument!’
My patience was not proof against the repetition of it aloud to me. Had I been gentler I might have known that his nature was compelled to look forward to something, and he discerned nothing in the future, save the task of raising a memorial to a faithful servant.
THE HEIRESS PROVES THAT SHE INHERITS THE FEUD AND I GO DRIFTING
My grandfather lived eight months after a scene that had afforded him high gratification at the heaviest cost a plain man can pay for his pleasures: it killed him.
My father’s supple nature helped him to survive it in apparently unimpeded health, so that the world might well suppose him unconquerable, as he meant that it should. But I, who was with him, knew, though he never talked of his wounds, they had been driven into his heart. He collapsed in speech, and became what he used to call ’one of the ordinary nodding men,’ forsaken of his swamping initiative. I merely observed him; I did not invite his confidences, being myself in no mood to give sympathy or to receive it. I was about as tender in my care of him as a military escort bound to deliver up a captive alive.