Chapter 26

Washington Square - Chapter 26

If she had disturbed her niece's temper - she began from this moment forward to talk a good deal about Catherine's temper, an article which up to that time had never been mentioned in connection with our heroine - Catherine had opportunity on the morrow to recover her serenity. Mrs Penniman had given her a message from Morris Townsend to the effect that he would come and welcome her home on the day after her arrival. He came in the afternoon; but, as may be imagined, he was not on this occasion made free of Doctor Sloper's study. He had been coming and going, for the past year, so comfortably and irresponsibly, that he had a certain sense of being wronged by finding himself reminded that he must now limit his horizon to the front parlor, which was Catherine's particular providence.

'I am very glad you have come back,' he said;' it makes me very happy to see you again.' And he looked at her, smiling, from head to foot, though it did not appear afterward that he agreed with Mrs Penniman (who, woman-like, went more into details) in thinking her embellished.

To Catherine he appeared resplendent; it was some time before she could believe again that this beautiful young man was her own exclusive property. They had a great deal of characteristic lovers' talk - a soft exchange of inquiries and assurances. In these matters Morris had an excellent grace, which flung a picturesque interest even over the account of his debut in the commission business - a subject as to which his companion earnestly questioned him. From time to time he got up from the sofa where they sat together, and walked about the room; after which he came back, smiling and passing his hand through his hair. He was unquiet, as was natural in a young man who has just been reunited to a long-absent mistress, and Catherine made the reflection that she had never seen him so excited. It gave her pleasure, somehow, to note this fact. He asked her questions about her travels, to some of which she was unable to reply, for she had forgotten the names of places and the order of her father's journey. But for the moment she was so happy, so lifted up by the belief that her troubles at last were over, that she forgot to be ashamed of her meagre answers. It seemed to her now that she could marry him without the remnant of a scruple, or a single tremor save those that belonged to joy. Without waiting for him to ask, she told him that her father had come back in exactly the same state of mind - that he had not yielded an inch.

'We must not expect it now,' she said, 'and we must do without it.'

Morris sat looking and smiling.' My poor, dear girl!' he exclaimed.

'You mustn't pity me,' said Catherine.' I don't mind it now; I am used to it.'

Morris continued to smile, and then he got up and walked about again.' You had better let me try him.'

'Try to bring him over? You would only make him worse,' Catherine answered, resolutely.

'You say that because I managed it so badly before. But I should manage it differently now. I am much wiser; I have had a year to think of it. I have more tact.'

'Is that what you have been thinking of for a year?'

'Much of the time. You see, the idea sticks in my crop. I don't like to be beaten.'

'How are you beaten if we marry?'

'Of course I am not beaten on the main issue; but I am, don't you see? on all the rest of it - on the question of my reputation, of my relations with your father, of my relations with my own children, if we should have any.'

'We shall have enough for our children; we shall have enough for everything. Don't you expect to succeed in business?'

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