himself—a bigger seminary than five hundred grazing donkeys, so that,

winning no prizes, the boy would remain unconscious and irresponsible and

amusing—amusing, because, though life was already intense in his childish

nature, freshness still made there a strong draught for jokes. It turned

out that even in the still air of Morgan’s various disabilities jokes

flourished greatly. He was a pale lean acute undeveloped little

cosmopolite, who liked intellectual gymnastics and who also, as regards

the behaviour of mankind, had noticed more things than you might suppose,

but who nevertheless had his proper playroom of superstitions, where he

smashed a dozen toys a day.


At Nice once, toward evening, as the pair rested in the open air after a

walk, and looked over the sea at the pink western lights, he said

suddenly to his comrade: “Do you like it, you know—being with us all in

this intimate way?”

“My dear fellow, why should I stay if I didn’t?”

“How do I know you’ll stay? I’m almost sure you won’t, very long.”

“I hope you don’t mean to dismiss me,” said Pemberton.

Morgan debated, looking at the sunset. “I think if I did right I ought


“Well, I know I’m supposed to instruct you in virtue; but in that case

don’t do right.”

“’You’re very young—fortunately,” Morgan went on, turning to him again.

“Oh yes, compared with you!”

“Therefore it won’t matter so much if you do lose a lot of time.”

“That’s the way to look at it,” said Pemberton accommodatingly.

They were silent a minute; after which the boy asked: “Do you like my

father and my mother very much?”

“Dear me, yes. They’re charming people.”

Morgan received this with another silence; then unexpectedly, familiarly,

but at the same time affectionately, he remarked: “You’re a jolly old


For a particular reason the words made our young man change colour. The

boy noticed in an instant that he had turned red, whereupon he turned red

himself and pupil and master exchanged a longish glance in which there

was a consciousness of many more things than are usually touched upon,

even tacitly, in such a relation. It produced for Pemberton an

embarrassment; it raised in a shadowy form a question—this was the first

glimpse of it—destined to play a singular and, as he imagined, owing to

the altogether peculiar conditions, an unprecedented part in his

intercourse with his little companion. Later, when he found himself

talking with the youngster in a way in which few youngsters could ever

have been talked with, he thought of that clumsy moment on the bench at

Nice as the dawn of an understanding that had broadened. What had added

to the clumsiness then was that he thought it his duty to declare to

Morgan that he might abuse him, Pemberton, as much as he liked, but must

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