“Just what they said about what poor Zénobie told me—that it was a horrid

dreadful story, that they had paid her every penny they owed her.”

“Well, perhaps they had,” said Pemberton.

“Perhaps they’ve paid you!”

“Let us pretend they have, and n’en parlons plus.”

“They accused her of lying and cheating”—Morgan stuck to historic truth.

“That’s why I don’t want to speak to them.”

“Lest they should accuse me, too?” To this Morgan made no answer, and

his companion, looking down at him—the boy turned away his eyes, which

had filled—saw what he couldn’t have trusted himself to utter. “You’re

right. Don’t worry them,” Pemberton pursued. “Except for that, they

_are_ charming people.”

“Except for _their_ lying and _their_ cheating?”

“I say—I say!” cried Pemberton, imitating a little tone of the lad’s

which was itself an imitation.

“We must be frank, at the last; we _must_ come to an understanding,” said

Morgan with the importance of the small boy who lets himself think he is

arranging great affairs—almost playing at shipwreck or at Indians. “I

know all about everything.”

“I dare say your father has his reasons,” Pemberton replied, but too

vaguely, as he was aware.

“For lying and cheating?”

“For saving and managing and turning his means to the best account. He

has plenty to do with his money. You’re an expensive family.”

“Yes, I’m very expensive,” Morgan concurred in a manner that made his

preceptor burst out laughing.

“He’s saving for _you_,” said Pemberton. “They think of you in

everything they do.”

“He might, while he’s about it, save a little—” The boy paused, and his

friend waited to hear what. Then Morgan brought out oddly: “A little

reputation.”

“Oh there’s plenty of that. That’s all right!”

“Enough of it for the people they know, no doubt. The people they know

are awful.”

“Do you mean the princes? We mustn’t abuse the princes.”

“Why not? They haven’t married Paula—they haven’t married Amy. They

only clean out Ulick.”

“You _do_ know everything!” Pemberton declared.

“No, I don’t, after all. I don’t know what they live on, or how they

live, or _why_ they live! What have they got and how did they get it?

Are they rich, are they poor, or have they a modeste aisance? Why are

they always chiveying me about—living one year like ambassadors and the

next like paupers? Who are they, any way, and what are they? I’ve

thought of all that—I’ve thought of a lot of things. They’re so beastly

worldly. That’s what I hate most—oh, I’ve _seen_ it! All they care

about is to make an appearance and to pass for something or other. What

the dickens do they want to pass for? What _do_ they, Mr. Pemberton?”

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