“Flagg,” I said, stepping to his side, “you will oblige me by returning to your lodgings.”
“You think I’m not all right?”
“I am sure of it.”
“And you don’t want me here, dear old boy?”
“No, I don’t want you here. The time has come for me to be frank with you, Flagg, and I see that your mind is clear enough to enable you to understand what I say.”
“I reckon I can follow you, Thomas.”
“My stock of romantic nonsense about kinship and family duties, and all that, has given out, and will not be renewed.”
“Won’t do business any more at the old stand?”
“Exactly so. I have done everything I could to help you, and you have done nothing whatever for yourself. You have not even done yourself the scant justice of treating Clara and me decently. In future you will be obliged to look after your own affairs, financial as well as social. Your best plan now is to go to work. I shall no longer concern myself with your comings and goings, except so far as to prevent you from coming here and disturbing Clara. Have you put that down?”
“Wesley, my boy, I’ll pay you for this.”
“If you do, it will be the first thing you have paid for since you came North.”
My statement, however accurate, was not wholly delicate, and I subsequently regretted it, but when a patient man loses his patience he goes to extremes. Washington Flagg straightened himself for an instant, and then smiled upon me in an amused, patronizing way quite untranslatable.
“Thomas, that was neat, very neat—for you. When I see Judge Ashburton Todhunter I’ll tell him about it. It’s the sort of mild joke he likes.”
“I should be proud to have Judge Ashburton Todhunter’s approval of any remark of mine, but in the meanwhile it would be a greater pleasure to me to have you return at once to Macdougal Street, where, no doubt, Mrs. Morgan is delaying dinner for you.”
“Say no more, Wesley. I’ll never set foot in your house again, as sure as my name is Flagg—and long may I wave o’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.”
“He is a kind of Flagg that I don’t wish to have wave over my home,” said Mrs. Wesley, descending the stairs as my cousin with painful care closed the door softly behind him.
So the end was come. It had come with less unpleasantness than I should have predicted. The ties of kindred, too tightly stretched, had snapped; but they had snapped very gently, so to speak.
Washington Flagg was as good as his word, which is perhaps not a strong indorsement. He never again set foot in my house. A week afterward I found that he had quitted Macdougal Street.
“He has gone South,” said Mrs. Morgan.
“Did he leave no message for me?”
“He didn’t leave a message for nobody.”
“Did he happen to say to what part of the South he was bound?”