Alexander's Bridge HTML version
career. But I have a photograph of it here." She drew a portfolio from behind a
bookcase. "And there, you see, on the hill, is my aunt's house."
Wilson took up the photograph. "Bartley was telling me something about your
aunt last night. She must have been a delightful person."
Winifred laughed. "The bridge, you see, was just at the foot of the hill, and the
noise of the engines annoyed her very much at first. But after she met Bartley
she pretended to like it, and said it was a good thing to be reminded that there
were things going on in the world. She loved life, and Bartley brought a great
deal of it in to her when he came to the house. Aunt Eleanor was very worldly in
a frank, Early-Victorian manner. She liked men of action, and disliked young men
who were careful of themselves and who, as she put it, were always trimming
their wick as if they were afraid of their oil's giving out. MacKeller, Bartley's first
chief, was an old friend of my aunt, and he told her that Bartley was a wild, ill-
governed youth, which really pleased her very much. I remember we were sitting
alone in the dusk after Bartley had been there for the first time. I knew that Aunt
Eleanor had found him much to her taste, but she hadn't said anything. Presently
she came out, with a chuckle: `MacKeller found him sowing wild oats in London, I
believe. I hope he didn't stop him too soon. Life coquets with dashing fellows.
The coming men are always like that. We must have him to dinner, my dear.' And
we did. She grew much fonder of Bartley than she was of me. I had been
studying in Vienna, and she thought that absurd. She was interested in the army
and in politics, and she had a great contempt for music and art and philosophy.
She used to declare that the Prince Consort had brought all that stuff over out of
Germany. She always sniffed when Bartley asked me to play for him. She
considered that a newfangled way of making a match of it."
When Alexander came in a few moments later, he found Wilson and his wife still
confronting the photograph. "Oh, let us get that out of the way," he said,
laughing. "Winifred, Thomas can bring my trunk down. I've decided to go over to
New York to-morrow night and take a fast boat. I shall save two days."