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"By all that is amazing, I believe you are insane, my son. See here --have you been training with that ass again--that radical, if you prefer the term, though the words are synonymous--Lord Tanzy, of Tollmache?"
The son did not reply, and the old lord continued:
"Yes, you confess. That puppy, that shame to his birth and caste, who holds all hereditary lordships and privilege to be usurpation, all nobility a tinsel sham, all aristocratic institutions a fraud, all inequalities in rank a legalized crime and an infamy, and no bread honest bread that a man doesn't earn by his own work--work, pah!"--and the old patrician brushed imaginary labor-dirt from his white hands. "You have come to hold just those opinions yourself, suppose,"--he added with a sneer.
A faint flush in the younger man's cheek told that the shot had hit and hurt; but he answered with dignity:
"I have. I say it without shame--I feel none. And now my reason for resolving to renounce my heirship without resistance is explained. I wish to retire from what to me is a false existence, a false position, and begin my life over again--begin it right--begin it on the level of mere manhood, unassisted by factitious aids, and succeed or fail by pure merit or the want of it. I will go to America, where all men are equal and all have an equal chance; I will live or die, sink or swim, win or lose as just a man--that alone, and not a single helping gaud or fiction back of it."
"Hear, hear!" The two men looked each other steadily in the eye a moment or two, then the elder one added, musingly, "Ab-so-lutely cra-zy-ab-solutely!" After another silence, he said, as one who, long troubled by clouds, detects a ray of sunshine, "Well, there will be one satisfaction--Simon Lathets will come here to enter into his own, and I will drown him in the horsepond. That poor devil--always so humble in his letters, so pitiful, so deferential; so steeped in reverence for our great line and lofty-station; so anxious to placate us, so prayerful for recognition as a relative, a bearer in his veins of our sacred blood --and withal so poor, so needy, so threadbare and pauper-shod as to raiment, so despised, so laughed at for his silly claimantship by the lewd American scum around him--ah, the vulgar, crawling, insufferable tramp! To read one of his cringing, nauseating letters--well?"
This to a splendid flunkey, all in inflamed plush and buttons and knee-breeches as to his trunk, and a glinting white frost-work of ground-glass paste as to his head, who stood with his heels together and the upper half of him bent forward, a salver in his hands:
"The letters, my lord."
My lord took them, and the servant disappeared.
"Among the rest, an American letter. From the tramp, of course. Jove, but here's a change! No brown paper envelope this time, filched from a shop, and carrying the shop's advertisement in the corner. Oh, no, a proper enough envelope--with a most ostentatiously broad mourning border--for his cat, perhaps, since he was a bachelor--and fastened with red wax--a batch of it as big as a half-crown--and--and--our crest for a seal!--motto and all. And the ignorant, sprawling hand is gone; he sports a secretary, evidently--a secretary with a most confident swing and flourish to his pen. Oh indeed, our fortunes are improving over there--our meek tramp has undergone a metamorphosis."