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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThe Faith Doctor: A Story Of New York - Chapter 12. Philip
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The Faith Doctor: A Story Of New York - Chapter 12. Philip Post by :rsbell43 Category :Long Stories Author :Edward Eggleston Date :May 2012 Read :2512

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The Faith Doctor: A Story Of New York - Chapter 12. Philip


Philip Gouverneur, passing the Graydon on his return from a dinner-party, thought to make a farewell call on Millard. He encountered Charley in the elevator, just coming home from an evening with Phillida, his face aglow with pleasure.

"Fancied I should find you packing," Philip said. "I thought as you would cross the Alps for the first time I'd come and give you a few points. If I were not so lazy and inefficient I believe I should go with you and 'personally conduct' you."

"That would be jolly. Come over in three or four weeks and I'll be quits with London. We'll engage a traveled English valet together, and journey in comfort. I will follow your lead and go anywhere."

"No; I shall not get over this year."

They entered Millard's rooms, where things were in a state of upheaval, but orderly even in their upheaval. Seating themselves for half an hour by the open windows they talked of things to be seen in Europe. Then Philip, remembering that his friend had much to do, rose to go, and Millard said with an effort:

"Well, Phil, I'm going to be kin to you. Congratulate me."

The color fled from Philip's face as he said:

"How's that?"

"Phillida Callender and I are engaged."

"You and Phillida?" said Philip, struggling to collect his wits. "I expected it." He spoke low and as though some calamity had befallen him. A moment he stood trying to muster his forces to utter some phrase proper to the occasion, and then he abruptly said:

"Good-night; don't come out"; and walked away toward the elevator like a somnambulist doing what he is compelled to by preconception without making note of his environment. And Millard wondered as he looked after him.

The next morning Philip came to breakfast so late that even his indulgent mother had forsaken the table after leaving directions to "have things kept hot for Mr. Philip, and some fresh coffee made for him."

When he had eaten a rather slender meal he sought his mother's sitting-room.

"Aunt Callender called last night, I hear. She must have had something to say, or she would hardly have persuaded herself to leave her sewing so long."

"She came to tell me of Phillida's engagement," said Mrs. Gouverneur, looking at Philip furtively as she spoke.

"I supposed that was it."

"Did you know it, then?"

"Oh, Charley Millard told me last night. These lucky fellows always take it for granted that you'll rejoice in all their good fortune; they air their luck before you as though it were your own." He was looking out of the window at the limited landscape of Washington Square.

"I'm sorry you feel bad about it," said his mother.

Philip was silent.

"I never dreamed that you had any special attachment for Phillida," said Mrs. Gouverneur.

"What did you think I was made of?" said Philip, turning toward his mother. "Since she came from Siam I have seen her about every week. Now consider what a woman she is, and do you wonder that I like her?"

"Why didn't you tell her so?"

"I might if I'd had Charley's brass. But what is there about a critical, inefficient young man like me, chiefly celebrated for piquant talk and sarcasm--what is there to recommend me to such a woman as Phillida? If I'd had Charley's physique--I suppose even Phillida isn't insensible to his appearance--but look at me. It might have recommended me to her, though, that in one respect I do resemble St. Paul--my bodily presence is weak." And he smiled at his joke. "No, mother, I am jealous of Charley, but I am not disappointed. I never had any hopes. I'd about as soon have thought of making love to any beatified saint in glory as to Phillida. But Charley's refined audacity is equal to anything."

The mother said nothing. She felt her son's bitterness too deeply to try to comfort him.

"I hate it most of all for Phillida's sake," Philip went on. "It can not be a happy marriage. Here they've gone and engaged themselves without reflection, and a catastrophe is sure to follow."

"Oh, maybe not," said Mrs. Gouverneur, who could not help feeling that Philip partly blamed her for the engagement.

"Why, just look at it. They haven't really kept company. He has been going to dinner and dancing parties this spring, and she to Mackerelville Mission and Mrs. Frankland's Bible Readings. If they should discover their incompatibility before marriage it wouldn't be so bad; but he's off to Europe for the summer, and then they'll be married in the autumn, probably, and then what? Phillida will never spend her time dancing germans with Charley; and he would make a pretty fist running a class of urchins in Mackerelville. I tell you it only means misery for both of them." And with this prediction Philip mounted to his own room.

Millard was too busy with the packing of trunks, the arrangement of business, and farewell visits to Phillida, to give much thought to Philip's curious behavior; but it troubled him nevertheless. And when, on the deck of the steamer _Arcadia_, he bade good-by to a large circle of friends, including Mr. Hilbrough, who brought a bouquet from his wife, and Mrs. Callender and her daughters, he looked about in vain for Philip. He could no longer doubt that for some reason Philip disliked his engagement. But when the last adieus had been waved to diminishing and no longer distinguishable friends on the pier-end, and the great city had shrunk into the background and passed from view as the vessel glided steadily forward into the Narrows, Millard entered his cabin and found a package of guide-books and a note from Philip excusing his absence on the ground of a headache, but hoping that his friend would have a pleasant voyage and expressing hearty good wishes for his future with Phillida. It was all very curious and unlike Philip. But the truth below dawned upon Charley, and it gave him sorrow that his great joy might be Philip's disappointment.

When September had come Philip sat one day in a wide wicker chair on the piazza of the old-fashioned cottage of the Gouverneurs at Newport. This plain but ample cottage had once held up its head stoutly as one of the best. But now that the age of the Newport cliff-dwellers had come, in which great architects are employed to expend unsparingly all the ideas they have ever borrowed, on cottages costlier than kings' palaces, the Gouverneur house had been overshadowed, and, after the manner of age outstripped by youth, had taken refuge in the inexpugnable advantage of priority. Like the family that dwelt within, it maintained a certain dignity of repose that could well afford to despise decoration and garniture, and look with contempt on newness. The very althaeas, and lilacs, and clambering jasmines in the dooryard and the large trees that lent shade to a lawn alongside, bespoke the chronological superiority of the place. There was no spruceness of biweekly mowing about the lawn, no ambitious spick-and-spanness about the old, white, wooden, green-blinded cottage itself, but rather a restful mossiness of ancient respectability.

Here Philip watched out the lazy September days, as he had watched them since he was a lad. This was a Newport afternoon, not cloudy, but touched by a certain marine mistiness which took the edge off the hard outlines of things and put the world into tone with sweet do-nothingness. Half-sitting, half-lying, in the wide piazza chair, clearly not made to measure for him, Philip had remained for two hours, reading a little at intervals, sometimes smoking, but mostly with head drawn down between his shoulders while he gazed off at the familiar trees and houses, and noted the passing of white-capped maids with their infant convoys, and the infrequent carriages that rolled by. His mother, with her fingers busy at something of no consequence, sat near him. Each was fond of the other's presence, neither cared much for conversation. Gouverneur, the father, was enjoying a fine day in his fashion, asleep on a lounge in the library.

"It's just as I expected, mother," said Philip, coming out of a prolonged reverie. "Charley and Phillida will marry without ever getting acquainted, and then will come the blow-out."

"What do you mean by the blow-out?" said Mrs. Gouverneur. "They are neither of them quarrelsome."

"No; but they are both sensitive. Aunt Callender's sickness took Phillida to the Catskills before he got home, and she's been there ever since. I suppose he has gone up once or twice on a Saturday. But what chance has either of them to know the other's tastes? What do you suppose they talk about? Does Phillida explain her high ideals, or tell him the shabby epics of lame beggars and blind old German women in Mackerelville? Or does he explain to her how to adjust a cravat, or tell her the amusing incidents of a private ball? They can't go on always billing and cooing, and what will they talk about on rainy Sundays after they are married? I'd like to see him persuade Phillida to wear an ultra-fashionable evening dress and spend six evenings a week at entertainments and the opera. Maybe it'll be the other way; she may coax him to teach a workingmen's class in the Mission. By George! It would be a comedy to see Charley try it once." And Philip indulged in a gentle laugh.

"You don't know how much they have seen of each other, Philip. Phillida is a friend of the Hilbroughs, and Mr. Millard once brought her to our house on Sunday afternoon from the Mission or somewhere over there."

"That's so?" said Philip. "They may be better acquainted than I think. But they'll never get on."

Perceiving that this line of talk was making his mother uncomfortable, he said:

"Nature has got the soft pedal down to-day. Come, mother, it's a good day for a drive. Will you go?"

And he went himself to call the coachman.

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