to blink her shame by reminding herself that she was, after all, the official protector of her niece's marriage. Her logic would scarcely have passed muster with the Doctor. In the first place, Morris must get the money, and she would help him to it. In the second, it was plain it would never come to him, and it would be a grievous pity he should marry without it - a young man who might so easily find something better. After her brother had delivered himself, on his return from Europe, of that incisive little address that has been quoted, Morris's cause seemed so hopeless that Mrs Penniman fixed her attention exclusively upon the latter branch of her argument. If Morris had been her son, she would certainly have sacrificed Catherine to a superior conception of his future; and to be ready to do so, as the case stood, was therefore even a finer degree of devotion. Nevertheless, it checked her breath a little to have the sacrificial knife, as it were, suddenly thrust into her hand.
Morris walked along a moment, and then he repeated, harshly,' I must give her up!'
'I think I understand you,' said Mrs Penniman, gently.' I certainly say it distinctly enough - brutally and vulgarly enough.'
He was ashamed of himself, and his shame was uncomfortable; and he was extremely intolerant of discomfort, he felt vicious and cruel. He wanted to abuse somebody, and he began, cautiously - for he was always cautious - with himself.
'Couldn't you take her down a little?' he asked.
'Take her down?'
'Prepare her - try and ease me off.'
Mrs Penniman stopped, looking at him very solemnly.
'My poor Morris, do you know how much she loves you?'
'No, I don't. I don't want to know. I have always tried to keep from knowing. It would be too painful.'
'She will suffer much,' said Mrs Penniman.
'You must console her. If you are as good a friend to me as you pretend to be, you will manage it.'
Mrs Penniman shook her head sadly.
'You talk of my 'pretending' to like you; but I can't pretend to hate you. I can only tell her I think very highly of you; and how will that console her for losing you?'
'The Doctor will help you. He will be delighted at the thing being broken off; and he is a knowing fellow, he will invent something to comfort her.'
'He will invent a new torture,' cried Mrs Penniman.' Heaven deliver her from her father's comfort! It will consist of his crowing over her, and saying, 'I always told you so!'
Morris colored a most uncomfortable red.
'If you don't console her any better than you console me, you certainly won't be of much use. It's a damned disagreeable necessity; I feel it extremely, and you ought to make it easy for me.'
'I will be your friend for life, 'Mrs Penniman declared.' Be my friend now!' and Morris walked on.
She went with him; she was almost trembling.' Should you like me to tell her?' she asked.
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