Christopher and Columbus
This night was the turning-point in Mr. Twist's life. In it he broke loose from his mother.
He spent a terrible three hours with her in the drawing-room, and the rest of the night he
strode up and down his bedroom. The autumn morning, creeping round the house in
long white wisps, found him staring out of his window very pale, his mouth pulled
together as tight as it would go.
His mother had failed him. She had not understood. And not only simply not
understood, but she had said things when at last she did speak, after he had explained
and pleaded for at least an hour, of an incredible bitterness and injustice. She had
seemed to hate him. If she hadn't been his mother Mr. Twist would have been certain
she hated him, but he still believed that mothers couldn't hate their children. It was stark
against nature; and Mr. Twist still believed in the fundamental rightness of that which is
called nature. She had accused him of gross things—she, his mother, who from her
conversation since he could remember was unaware, he had judged, of the very
existence of such things. Those helpless children ... Mr. Twist stamped as he strode.
Well, he had made her take that back; and indeed she had afterwards admitted that she
said it in her passion of grief and disappointment, and that it was evident these girls
were not like that.
But before they reached that stage, for the first time in his life he had been saying
straight out what he wanted to say to his mother just as if she had been an ordinary
human being. He told her all he knew of the twins, asked her to take them in for the
present and be good to them, and explained the awkwardness of their position, apart
from its tragedy, as Germans by birth stranded in New England, where opinion at that
moment was so hostile to Germans. Then, continuing in candour, he had told his
mother that here was her chance of doing a fine and beautiful thing, and it was at this
point that Mrs. Twist suddenly began, on her side, to talk.
She had listened practically in silence to the rest; had only started when he explained
the girls' nationality; but when he came to offering her these girls as the great
opportunity of her life to do something really good at last, she, who felt she had been
doing nothing else but noble and beautiful things, and doing them with the most single-
minded devotion to duty and the most consistent disregard of inclination, could keep
silence no longer. Had she not borne her great loss without a murmur? Had she not
devoted all her years to bringing up her son to be a good man? Had she ever
considered herself? Had she ever flagged in her efforts to set an example of patience in
grief, of dignity in misfortune? She began to speak. And just as amazed as she had
been at the things this strange, unknown son had been saying to her and at the manner
of their delivery, so was he amazed at the things this strange, unknown mother was
saying to him, and at the manner of their delivery.