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Vol. 93


No. 4

The Brothers

Illustrations by W. M. Berger

"A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city; and their contentions are like the bars of a castle."

Prov. xviii, 19.

BEN and Judson Harland were the sons of that Captain Harland who was shot, it is not forgotten, by a progressive Filipino gentleman of Manila in October, 1898. His widow did not hear of this disaster. She died before the War Department found time to inform her, and left the twins to the care of Edgar Harland. He had no experience in paternal duties even of a vicarious sort, but he shrugged his thin shoulders, administered his brother's estate, and put his charges in a highly recommended school for boys under fourteen near Philadelphia. The estate yielded exactly four thousand dollars a year, quite ample provision for the twins, and the school seemed to please them. Edgar testified to his relief by despatching a twelve-pound box of chocolates, and went abroad. He lived abroad as much as possible, collecting books and curious prints. In New York his friends were principally women. He did not care for men; they were apt to require response and a warmth he was not able to feign. Consistently, he rather disliked his

wards, who were egregiously male. However, he treated them with an impartial courtesy during their holidays, sent them to such matinées as seemed suitable, and hired, from their income, a healthy young tutor who looked after their summer diversions at Edgar's agreeable cottage close to Gloucester. Edgar was an excellent guardian to this extent.

As an observer of life, he noted the twins from time to time, in no inquisitive manner, but with calm amusement at the faithful repetition of the human comedy they were enacting. Eben, the one-hour precursor of Judson, was, he saw, the less variable of the two and a trifle the more perceptive. He made friends slowly, lost them slowly, clung to Judson with a methodical devotion in times of trouble, and possessed a vague talent for drawing, which Mr. Chase, the tutor, encouraged. His behavior was entirely normal save that he inclined toward silence.

Judson was talkative, mildly mischievous, easily fickle in social relations, and a wretched mathematician. He had a loudly expressed desire to be a soldier, and was full of interest in Captain Harland's honorable career. He had a few physical tricks which differentiated him. from his twin brother, a certain grace

Copyright, 1917, by THE CENTURY CO. All rights reserved.

in motion, and an odd habit of smiling when he was most angry, with the perfect smile of pleased childhood. Also he had a small mole on his left shoulder, which identified him as the cadet.

For the boys were minutely similar in every other way. Seen in bed, no one could tell them apart; but as they were perpetually together, it did not afflict their acquaintance. They could be addressed. collectively as "Twin" if one was not sure as to which was Ben or Jud. Their devotion entertained Edgar. They loved each other with what he regarded as a foolish fervor. He considered them drugged in mirrored self-admiration. Eben believed Judson the most charming society earth afforded, and Judson's Mosaic law was contained in the phrase "Ben says."

Given a wet summer day, they would isolate themselves in some corner and converse or drowse peaceably for the complete period between meal and meal. They They never quarreled, they seldom argued, they defended each other against the world with savage simplicity. Edgar profited by this state; it got him a quiet house, a reputation for domestic mastery. Handsome ladies consulted him as to their offspring and the vagaries of infancy. He replied in scented English modeled upon that of Walter Pater, his particular idol, of whose works he possessed a complete first edition, bound in peacock leather by Rivière. It somewhat fretted his spirit that the twins admired his books. He would have preferred an entire barbarism.

Time passed. They agonized his ears. one summer by a cacophony of changing throats. Young Chase called his attention to the fact of growth, and kissed them good-by in September with ludicrous, honest tears. He was going to Alaska.

"They 're more to me than any one but my mother," he told Edgar. Edgar noted that the twins excited love. They emerged from Philadelphia at Christmas with pleasant barytone voices, and demanded long trousers. Next autumn he sent them to St. Paul's School. An old classmate, now an instructor in that place, wrote

Edgar a letter of fervid enthusiasm, and the twins' bedroom became decorated with photographs of athletic groups. They liked St. Paul's. Several ladies rather gushed to Edgar about his splendid nephews. He assumed that the juxtaposition of sea-gray eyes and curling bronze hair drew the female soul. Personally these embellishments did not retrieve, for him, jaws that were somewhat heavy and noses a trifle too short. The long, compact bodies he conceded, and the clear smooth skins were all he could ask. He was a very ugly man, but he did not envy these belongings, since they cloaked a spirit so obsolescent.

Time passed. He did not endeavor to deflect their purpose from Yale. He believed that the alleged crudities of that university would suit their lack of temperament. They played foot-ball, he understood, with some success and rowed in the Shattuck Club crews. Eben began to produce drawings that were not free of merit. Judson's deficiencies in mathematics were recorded in letters to Edgar, who wrote the lad, civilly advising application. He fancied that the failing would correct itself. They became seventeen in April.

In June the head-master of St. Paul's informed Edgar that since the school could not possibly recommend Judson for the Yale entrance examinations in second algebra or even plane geometry, the headmaster feared that it would also be impossible to graduate him. Edgar went immediately abroad and returned in late August, to avoid possible unpleasantness. The twins, however, did not worry him. with their patent tragedy. The headmaster of St. Paul's declined to allow Eben an idle year with his brother. Eben had selected a substitute room-mate for him at Yale, Arthur Letellier of St. Louis. He told Edgar this in a subdued manner when Judson was elsewhere, and added miserably:

"Perhaps it's a little better this way. I can sort of help Jud along next year-advice and that sort of thing."

"Quite possibly," said Edgar, observing the droop of the too wide mouth.

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