Support the Monkey! Tell All your Friends and Teachers
the formation of many a winter; had had his reasons for a long silence. The others
resented postponement, but it was just his scruples that charmed me. I adjured him to
write by the first post and to agree with us for an early hearing; then I asked him if the
experience in question had been his own. To this his answer was prompt. “Oh, thank
God, no!” “And is the record yours? You took the thing down?” “Nothing but the
impression. I took that here”- he tapped his heart.
“I’ve never lost it.” “Then your manuscript-?” “Is in old, faded ink, and in the most
beautiful hand.” He hung fire again. “A woman’s. She has been dead these twenty
years. She sent me the pages in question before she died.” They were all listening now,
and of course there was somebody to be arch, or at any rate to draw the inference. But
if he put the inference by without a smile it was also without irritation. “She was a most
charming person, but she was ten years older than I. She was my sister’s governess,” he
quietly said. “She was the most agreeable woman I’ve ever known in her position; she
would have been worthy of any whatever. It was long ago, and this episode was long
before. I was at Trinity, and I found her at home on my coming down the second
summer. I was much there that year-it was a beautiful one; and we had, in her off-
hours, some strolls and talks in the garden-talks in which she struck me as awfully
clever and nice. Oh yes; don’t grin: I liked her extremely and am glad to this day to
think she liked me, too. If she hadn’t she wouldn’t have told me. She had never told
anyone. It wasn’t simply that she said so, but that I knew she hadn’t. I was sure; I could
see. You’ll easily judge why when you hear.” “Because the thing had been such a
scare?” He continued to fix me. “You’ll easily judge,” he repeated: “you will.” I fixed
him, too. “I see. She was in love.” He laughed for the first time. “You are acute. Yes, she
was in love. That is, she had been. That came out-she couldn’t tell her story without its
coming out. I saw it, and she saw I saw it; but neither of us spoke of it. I remember the
time and the place-the corner of the lawn, the shade of the great beeches and the long,
hot summer afternoon. It wasn’t a scene for a shudder; but oh-!” He quitted the fire and
dropped back into his chair.
“You’ll receive the packet Thursday morning?” I inquired.
“Probably not till the second post.” “Well then; after dinner-” “You’ll all meet me
here?” He looked us round again. “Isn’t anybody going?” It was almost the tone of
“Everybody will stay!” “I will-and I will!” cried the ladies whose departure had been
fixed. Mrs. Griffin, however, expressed the need for a little more light. “Who was it she
was in love with?” “The story will tell,” I took upon myself to reply.
“Oh, I can’t wait for the story!” “The story won’t tell,” said Douglas; “not in any literal,
vulgar way.” “More’s the pity, then. That’s the only way I ever understand.” “Won’t
you tell, Douglas?” somebody else inquired.
He sprang to his feet again. “Yes-tomorrow. Now I must go to bed. Good night.” And
quickly catching up a candlestick, he left us slightly bewildered.