“It’s better to make a fool of one’s self than to make a fool of some one else,” said Westover, oracularly.
“Yes,” said Jeff, apparently finding nothing more definite in the oracle than people commonly find in oracles. “But I think,” he went on, with a touch of bitterness, “that her mother might have told me that she was engaged—or the same as engaged.”
“I don’t know that she was bound to take you seriously, or to suppose you took yourself so, at your age and with your prospects in life. If you want to know”—Westover faltered, and then went on—“she began to be kind to you because she was afraid that you might think she didn’t take your coming home second-cabin in the right way; and one thing led to another. You mustn’t blame her for what’s happened.”
Westover defended Mrs. Vostrand, but he did not feel strong in her defence; he was not sure that Durgin was quite wrong, absurd as he had been. He sat down and looked up at his visitor under his brows.
“What are you here for, Jeff? Not to complain of Mrs. Vostrand?”
Jeff gave a short, shamefaced laugh. “No, it’s this you’re such an old friend of Mrs. Vostrand’s that I thought she’d be pretty sure to tell you about it; and I wanted to ask—to ask—that you wouldn’t say anything to mother.”
“You are a boy! I shouldn’t think of meddling with your affairs,” said Westover; he got up again, and Jeff rose, too.
Before noon the next day a district messenger brought Westover a letter which he easily knew, from, the now belated tall, angular hand, to be from Mrs. Vostrand. It announced on a much criss-crossed little sheet that she and Genevieve were inconsolably taking a very sudden departure, and were going on the twelve-o’clock train to New York, where Mr. Vostrand was to meet them. “In regard to that affair which I mentioned last night, he withdraws his objections (we have had an overnight telegram), and so I suppose all will go well. I cannot tell you how sorry we both are not to see you again; you have been such a dear, good friend to us; and if you don’t hear from us again at New York, you will from the other side. Genevieve had some very strange news when she came in, and we both feel very sorry for the poor young fellow. You must console him from us all you can. I did not know before how much she was attached to Gigi: but it turned out very fortunately that she could say she considered herself bound to him, and did everything to save Mr. D.’s feelings.”
Westover was not at Lion’s Head again till the summer before Jeff’s graduation. In the mean time the hotel had grown like a living thing. He could not have imagined wings in connection with the main edifice, but it had put forth wings—one that sheltered a new and enlarged dining-room, with two stories of chambers above, and another that hovered a parlor and ball-room under a like provision of chambers.