“Do me the favour,” said Eugene, getting out of his chair with much gravity, “to come and inspect that feature of our establishment which you rashly disparage.” With that, taking up a candle, he conducted his chum into the fourth room of the set of chambers — a little narrow room — which was very completely and neatly fitted as a kitchen. “See!” said Eugene, “miniature flour-barrel, rolling- pin, spice-box, shelf of brown jars, chopping-board, coffee-mill, dresser elegantly furnished with crockery, saucepans and pans, roasting jack, a charming kettle, an armoury of dish-covers. The moral influence of these objects, in forming the domestic virtues, may have an immense influence upon me; not upon you, for you are a hopeless case, but upon me. In fact, I have an idea that I feel the domestic virtues already forming. Do me the favour to step into my bedroom. Secrëtaire, you see, and abstruse set of solid mahogany pigeon- holes, one for every letter of the alphabet. To what use do I devote them? I receive a bill — say from Jones. I docket it neatly at the secrëtaire, JONES, and I put it into pigeon-hole J. It’s the next thing to a receipt and is quite as satisfactory to me. And I very much wish, Mortimer,” sitting on his bed, with the air of a philosopher lecturing a disciple, “that my example might induce you to cultivate habits of punctuality and method; and, by means of the moral influences with which I have surrounded you, to encourage the formation of the domestic virtues.”

Mortimer laughed again, with his usual commentaries of “How can you be so ridiculous, Eugene!” and “What an absurd fellow you are!” but when his laugh was out, there was something serious, if not anxious, in his face. Despite that pernicious assumption of lassitude and indifference, which had become his second nature, he was strongly attached to his friend. He had founded himself upon Eugene when they were yet boys at school; and at this hour imitated him no less, admired him no less, loved him no less, than in those departed days.

“Eugene,” said he, “if I could find you in earnest for a minute, I would try to say an earnest word to you.”

“An earnest word?” repeated Eugene. “The moral influences are beginning to work. Say on.”

“Well, I will,” returned the other, “though you are not earnest yet.”

“In this desire for earnestness,” murmured Eugene, with the air of one who was meditating deeply, “I trace the happy influences of the little flour-barrel and the coffee-mill. Gratifying.”

“Eugene,” resumed Mortimer, disregarding the light interruption, and laying a hand upon Eugene’s shoulder, as he, Mortimer, stood before him seated on his bed, “you are withholding something from me.”

Eugene looked at him, but said nothing.

“All this past summer, you have been withholding something from me. Before we entered on our boating vacation, you were as bent upon it as I have seen you upon anything since we first rowed together. But you cared very little for it when it came, often found it a tie and a drag upon you, and were constantly away. Now it was well enough half-a-dozen times, a dozen times, twenty times, to say to me in your own odd manner, which I know so well and like so much, that your disappearances were precautions against our boring one another; but of course after a short while I began to know that they covered something. I don’t ask what it is, as you have not told me; but the fact is so. Say, is it not?”

“I give you my word of honour, Mortimer,” returned Eugene, after a serious pause of a few moments, “that I don’t know.”

“Don’t know, Eugene?”

“Upon my soul, don’t know. I know less about myself than about most people in the world, and I don’t know.”

“You have some design in your mind?”

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