`Harriet who? what Harriet? I know nobody of that name.'
`She is not well, and has changed very much of late.'
`She changed very much, a great many years ago,' replied the Manager; `and that is all I have to say.'
`I think if you would hear me--'
`Why should I hear you, Brother John?' returned the Manager, laying a sarcastic emphasis on those two words, and throwing up his head, but not lifting his eyes. `I tell you, Harriet Carker made her choice many years ago between her two brothers. She may repent it, but she must abide by it.'
`Don't mistake me. I do not say she does repent it. It would be black ingratitude in me to hint at such a thing,' returned the other. `Though believe me, James, I am as sorry for her sacrifice as you.'
`As I?' exclaimed the Manager. `As I?'
`As sorry for her choice--for what you call her choice--as you are angry at it,' said the Junior.
`Angry?' repeated the other, with a wide show of his teeth.
`Displeased. Whatever word you like best. You know my meaning. There is no offence in my intention.'
`There is offence in everything you do,' replied his brother, glancing at him with a sudden scowl, which in a moment gave place to a wider smile than the last. `Carry those papers away, if you please. I am busy.'
His politeness was so much more cutting than his wrath, that the Junior went to the door. But stopping at it, and looking round, he said:
`When Harriet tried in vain to plead for me with you, on your first just indignation, and my first disgrace; and when she left you, James, to follow my broken fortunes, and devote herself, in her mistaken affection, to a ruined brother, because without her he had no one, and was lost; she was young and pretty. I think if you could see her now--if you would go and see her--she would move your admiration and compassion.'
The Manager inclined his head, and showed his teeth, as who should say, in answer to some careless small-talk, `Dear me! Is that the case?' but said never a word.
`We thought in those days: you and I both: that she would marry young, and lead a happy and light-hearted life,' pursued the other. `Oh if you knew how cheerfully she cast those hopes away; how cheerfully she has gone forward on the path she took, and never once looked back; you never could say again that her name was strange in your ears. Never!'
Again the Manager inclined his head, and showed his teeth, and seemed to say, `Remarkable indeed! You quite surprise me!' And again he uttered never a word.
`May I go on?' said John Carker, mildly.
`On your way?' replied his smiling brother. `If you will have the goodness.'
John Carker, with a sigh, was passing slowly out at the door, when his brother's voice detained him for a moment on the threshold.
`If she has gone, and goes, her own way cheerfully,' he said, throwing the still unfolded letter on his desk, and putting his hands firmly in his pockets, `you may tell her that I go as cheerfully on mine. If she has
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