Christopher and Columbus HTML version
Mr. Twist, who was never able to be anything but kind—he had the most amiable mouth
and chin in the world, and his name was Edward—took a lively interest in the plans and
probable future of the two Annas. He also took a lively and solicitous interest in their
present, and a profoundly sympathetic one in their past. In fact, their three tenses
interested him to the exclusion of almost everything else, and his chief desire was to
see them safely through any shoals there might be waiting them in the shape of Uncle
Arthur's friends—he distrusted Uncle Arthur, and therefore his friends—into the safe and
pleasant waters of real American hospitality and kindliness.
He knew that such waters abounded for those who could find the tap. He reminded
himself of that which he had been taught since childhood, of the mighty heart of
America which, once touched, would take persons like the twins right in and never let
them out again. But it had to be touched. It had, as it were, to be put in connection with
them by means of advertisement. America, he reflected, was a little deaf. She had to be
shouted to. But once she heard, once she thoroughly grasped ...
He cogitated much in his cabin—one with a private bathroom, for Mr. Twist had what
Aunt Alice called ample means—on these two defenceless children. If they had been
Belgians now, or Serbians, or any persons plainly in need of relief! As it was, America
would be likely, he feared, to consider that either Germany or England ought to be
looking after them, and might conceivably remain chilly and uninterested.
Uncle Arthur, it appeared, hadn't many friends in America, and those he had didn't like
him. At least that was what Mr. Twist gathered from the conversation of Anna-Rose.
She didn't positively assert but she very candidly conjectured, and Mr. Twist could quite
believe that Uncle Arthur's friends wouldn't be warm ones. Their hospitality he could
imagine fleeting and perfunctory. They would pass on the Twinklers as soon as
possible, as indeed why should they not? And presently some dreary small job would be
found for them, some job as pupil-teacher or girls' companion in the sterile atmosphere
of a young ladies' school.
As much as a man of habitually generous impulses could dislike, Mr. Twist disliked
Uncle Arthur. Patriotism was nothing at any time to Mr. Twist compared to humanity,
and Uncle Arthur's particular kind of patriotism was very odious to him. To wreak it on
these two poor aliens! Mr. Twist had no words for it. They had been cut adrift at a tender
age, an age Mr. Twist, as a disciplined American son and brother, was unable to regard
unmoved, and packed off over the sea indifferent to what might happen to them so long
as Uncle Arthur knew nothing about it. Having flung these kittens into the water to swim
or drown, so long as he didn't have to listen to their cries while they were doing it, Uncle
Arthur apparently cared nothing.