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the publishers.” “A little bird, probably,” said Dresham, smiling indulgently on her deduction. “A little bird of prey then—a vulture, I should say—” another man interpolated. “Oh, I’m not with you there,” said Dresham, easily. “Those letters belonged to the public.” “How can any letters belong to the public that weren’t written to the public?” Mrs. Touchett interposed. “Well, these were, in a sense. A personality as big as Margaret Aubyn’s belongs to the world. Such a mind is part of the
done, after all, to need defence and explanation? Both Dresham and Flamel had, in his hearing, declared the publication of the letters to be not only justifiable but obligatory; and if the disinterestedness of Flamel’s verdict might be questioned, Dresham’s at least represented the impartial view of the man of letters. As to Alexa’s words, they were simply the conventional utterance of the “nice” woman on a question already decided for her by other “nice” women. She had said the proper thing as
understand; the other, it sometimes seemed, understood without knowing. In its last disguise of retrospective remorse, his self-pity affected a desire for solitude and meditation. He lost himself in morbid musings, in futile visions of what life with Margaret Aubyn might have been. There were moments when, in the strange dislocation of his view, the wrong he had done her seemed a tie between them. To indulge these emotions he fell into the habit, on Sunday afternoons, of solitary walks
packets—little notes written during their first acquaintance at Hillbridge. Glennard, on leaving college, had begun life in his uncle’s law office in the old university town. It was there that, at the house of her father, Professor Forth, he had first met the young lady then chiefly distinguished for having, after two years of a conspicuously unhappy marriage, returned to the protection of the paternal roof. Mrs. Aubyn was at that time an eager and somewhat tragic young woman, of complex mind
her hand. “Was it much—?” she began at length. “Much—?” he returned, vaguely. “The money.” “The money?” That part of it seemed to count so little that for a moment he did not follow her thought. “It must be paid back,” she insisted. “Can you do it?” “Oh, yes,” he returned, listlessly. “I can do it.” “I would make any sacrifice for that!” she urged. He nodded. “Of course.” He sat staring at her in dry-eyed self-contempt. “Do you count on its making much difference?” “Much difference?”