Christopher and Columbus
Manifestly it is impossible to thrust oneself into a house where there is going to be a
funeral next day, even if one has come all the way from New York and has nowhere
else to go. Equally manifestly it is impossible to thrust oneself into it after the funeral till
a decent interval has elapsed. But what the devil, Mr. Twist asked himself in language
become regrettably natural to him since his sojourn at the front, is a decent interval?
This Mr. Twist asked himself late that night, pacing up and down the sea-shore in the
warm and tranquil darkness in front of the Cosmopolitan Hotel, while the twins, utterly
tired out by their journey and the emotions at the end of it, crept silently into bed.
How long does it take a widow to recover her composure? Recover, that is, the first
beginnings of it? At what stage in her mourning is it legitimate to intrude on her with
reminders of obligations incurred before she was a widow,—with, in fact, the Twinklers?
Delicacy itself would shrink from doing it under a week thought Mr. Twist, or even under
a fortnight, or even if you came to that, under a month; and meanwhile what was he to
do with the Twinklers?
Mr. Twist, being of the artistic temperament for otherwise he wouldn't have been so
sympathetic nor would he have minded, as he so passionately did mind, his Uncle
Charles's teapot dribbling on to the tablecloth—was sometimes swept by brief but
tempestuous revulsions of feeling, and though he loved the Twinklers he did at this
moment describe them mentally and without knowing it in the very words of Uncle
Arthur, as those accursed twins. It was quite unjust, he knew. They couldn't help the
death of the man Dellogg. They were the victims, from first to last, of a cruel and
pursuing fate; but it is natural to turn on victims, and Mr. Twist was for an instant, out of
the very depth of his helpless sympathy, impatient with the Twinklers.
He walked up and down the sands frowning and pulling his mouth together, while the
Pacific sighed sympathetically at his feet. Across the road the huge hotel standing in its
gardens was pierced by a thousand lights. Very few people were about and no one at
all was on the sands. There was an immense noise of what sounded like grasshoppers
or crickets, and also at intervals distant choruses of frogs, but these sounds seemed
altogether beneficent,—so warm, and southern, and far away from less happy places
where in October cold winds perpetually torment the world. Even in the dark Mr. Twist
knew he had got to somewhere that was beautiful. He could imagine nothing more
agreeable than, having handed over the twins safely to the Delloggs, staying on a week
or two in this place and seeing them every day,—perhaps even, as he had pictured to
himself on the journey, being invited to stay with the Delloggs. Now all that was knocked
on the head. He supposed the man Dellogg couldn't help being dead but he, Mr. Twist,
equally couldn't help resenting it. It was so awkward; so exceedingly awkward. And it
was so like what one of that creature Uncle Arthur's friends would do.