And he looked at his interlocutor as if the question might have a double meaning. The Doctor caught the look and weighed it a moment before he replied.
'I should be very sorry to admit that a robust and well-disposed young man need ever despair. If he doesn't succeed in one thing, he can try another. Only, I should add, he should choose his line with discretion.'
'Ah, yes, with discretion,' Morris Townsend repeated, sympathetically. 'Well, I have been indiscreet, formerly; but I think I have got over it. I am very steady now.' And he stood a moment, looking down at his remarkably neat shoes. Then at last, 'Were you kindly intending to propose something for my advantage?' he inquired, looking up and smiling.
'D&mdashn his impudence!' the Doctor exclaimed, privately. But in a moment he reflected that he himself had, after all, touched first upon this delicate point, and that his words might have been construed as an offer of assistance. 'I have no particular proposal to make,' he presently said; 'but it occurred to me to let you know that I have you in my mind. Sometimes one hears of opportunities. For instance, should you object to leaving New York - to going to a distance?'
'I am afraid I shouldn't be able to manage that. I must seek my fortune here or nowhere. You see,' added Morris Townsend, 'I have ties - I have responsibilities here. I have a sister, a widow, from whom I have been separated for a long time, and to whom I am almost everything. I shouldn't like to say to her that I must leave her. She rather depends upon me, you see.'
'Ah, that's very proper; family feeling is very proper,' said Doctor Sloper. 'I often think there is not enough of it in our city. I think I have heard of your sister.'
'It is possible, but I rather doubt it; she lives so very quietly .'
'As quietly, you mean,' the Doctor went on, with a short laugh, 'as a lady may do who has several young children.'
'Ah, my little nephews and nieces - that's the very point! I am helping to bring them up,' said Morris Townsend. 'I am a kind of amateur tutor; I give them lessons.'
'That's very proper, as I say; but it is hardly a career.' 'It won't make my fortune,' the young man confessed.
'You must not be too much bent on a fortune,' said the Doctor . 'But I assure you I will keep you in mind; I won't lose sight of you.'
'If my situation becomes desperate I shall perhaps take the liberty of reminding you,' Morris rejoined, raising his voice a little, with a brighter smile, as his interlocutor turned away.
Before he left the house the Doctor had a few words with Mrs Almond.
'I should like to see his sister,' he said. 'What do you call her - Mrs Montgomery? I should like to have a little talk with her.'
'I will try and manage it,' Mrs Almond responded. 'I will take the first opportunity of inviting her, and you shall come and meet her; unless, indeed,' Mrs Almond added, 'she first takes it into her head to be sick and to send for you.'
'Ah no, not that; she must have trouble enough without that. But it would have its advantages, for then I should see the children. I should like very much to see the children.'
'You are very thorough. Do you want to catechise them about their uncle?'
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