I will bring you a message--a cablegram--"


"To-morrow-next day--"

"Signed 'Rossmore'?"

"Yes--signed Rossmore."

"What will that prove?"

"What will it prove? What should it prove?"

"If you force me to say it--possibly the presence of a confederate somewhere."

This was a hard blow, and staggered him. He said, dejectedly:

"It is true. I did not think of it. Oh, my God, I do not know any way to do; I do everything wrong. You are going?--and you won't say even good-night--or good-bye? Ah, we have not parted like this before."

"Oh, I want to run and--no, go, now." A pause--then she said, "You may bring the message when it comes."

"Oh, may I? God bless you."

He was gone; and none too soon; her lips were already quivering, and now she broke down. Through her sobbings her words broke from time to time.

"Oh, he is gone. I have lost him, I shall never see him any more. And he didn't kiss me good-bye; never even offered to force a kiss from me, and he knowing it was the very, very last, and I expecting he would, and never dreaming he would treat me so after all we have been to each other. Oh, oh, oh, oh, what shall I do, what shall I do! He is a dear, poor, miserable, good-hearted, transparent liar and humbug, but oh, I do love him so--!" After a little she broke into speech again. "How dear he is! and I shall miss him so, I shall miss him so! Why won't he ever think to forge a message and fetch it?--but no, he never will, he never thinks of anything; he's so honest and simple it wouldn't ever occur to him. Oh, what did possess him to think he could succeed as a fraud--and he hasn't the first requisite except duplicity that I can see. Oh, dear, I'll go to bed and give it all up. Oh, I wish I had told him to come and tell me whenever he didn't get any telegram--and now it's all my own fault if I never see him again. How my eyes must look!"


Next day, sure enough, the cablegram didn't come. This was an immense disaster; for Tracy couldn't go into the presence without that ticket, although it wasn't going to possess any value as evidence. But if the failure of the cablegram on that first day may be called an immense disaster, where is the dictionary that can turn out a phrase sizeable enough to describe the tenth day's failure? Of course every day that the cablegram didn't come made Tracy all of twenty-four hours' more ashamed of himself than he was the day before, and made Sally fully twenty-four hours more certain than ever that he not only hadn't any father anywhere, but hadn't even a confederate--and so it followed that he was a double- dyed humbug and couldn't be otherwise.

These were hard days for Barrow and the art firm. All these had their hands full, trying to comfort Tracy. Barrow's task was particularly hard, because he was made a confidant in full, and therefore had to humor Tracy's delusion that he had a father, and that the father was an earl, and that he was going to send a cablegram. Barrow early gave up the idea of trying to convince Tracy that he hadn't any father, because this had such a bad effect on the patient, and worked up his temper to such an alarming degree. He had tried, as an experiment, letting Tracy think he had a father; the result was so good that he went further, with proper caution, and tried letting him think his father was an earl; this wrought so well, that he grew bold, and tried letting him think he had two fathers, if he wanted to, but he didn't want to, so Barrow withdrew one of them and substituted letting him think he was going to get a cablegram--which Barrow judged he wouldn't, and was right; but Barrow worked the cablegram daily for all it was worth, and it was the one thing that kept Tracy alive; that was Barrow's opinion.

And these were bitter hard days for poor Sally, and mainly delivered up to private crying. She kept her furniture pretty damp, and so caught cold, and the dampness and the cold and the sorrow together undermined her appetite, and she was a pitiful enough object, poor thing.

Mark Twain
Classic Literature Library

All Pages of This Book