The Evil Genius
5. Randal Writes to New York
The members of the family at Mount Morven consulted together, before Sydney
Westerfield was informed of her brother's disappearance and of her mother's death.
Speaking first, as master of the house, Herbert Linley offered his opinion without
hesitation. His impulsive kindness shrank from the prospect of reviving the melancholy
recollections associated with Sydney's domestic life. "Why distress the poor child, just as
she is beginning to feel happy among us?" he asked. "Give me the newspaper; I shan't
feel easy till I have torn it up."
His wife drew the newspaper out of his reach. "Wait a little," she said, quietly; "some of
us may feel that it is no part of our duty to conceal the truth."
Mrs. Presty spoke next. To the surprise of the family council , she agreed with her son-in-
"Somebody must speak out," the old lady began; "and I mean to set the example. Telling
the truth," she declared, turning severely to her daughter, "is a more complicated affair
than you seem to think. It's a question of morality, of course; but--in family circles, my
dear--it's sometimes a question of convenience as well. Is it convenient to upset my
granddaughter's governess, just as she is entering on her new duties? Certainly not! Good
heavens, what does it matter to my young friend Sydney whether her unnatural mother
lives or dies? Herbert, I second your proposal to tear up the paper with the greatest
Herbert, sitting next to Randal, laid his hand affectionately on his brother's shoulder. "Are
you on our side?" he asked.
"I feel inclined to agree with you," he said to Herbert. "It does seem hard to recall Miss
Westerfield to the miserable life that she has led, and to do it in the way of all others
which must try her fortitude most cruelly. At the same time--"
"Oh, don't spoil what you have said by seeing the other side of the question!" cried his
brother "You have already put it admirably; leave it as it is."
"At the same time," Randal gently persisted, "I have heard no reasons which satisfy me
that we have a right to keep Miss Westerfield in ignorance of what has happened."
This serious view of the question in debate highly diverted Mrs. Presty. "I do not like that
man," she announced, pointing to Randal; "he always amuses me. Look at him now! He
doesn't know which side he is on, himself."