Of One Flesh
HE was a rough sort of Western fellow that sat beside me at the steamship table, and he would eat with his knife. Now I am a sensitive sort of man, and that annoyed me greatly. Therefore, during dinner, I looked black at him, and politely passed him forks till his place looked like a sample tray. We did not speak but I could see that he felt antagonistic. He did not seem to make any attempt at amendment. Perhaps that was obstinacy or hateful pride. One day it was very stormy; and, as I went to the cabin hatch to get a breath of air, I found him standing at the door.
The sea was dark and gloomy, and the chill wind blowing out of a dull sky kept up a monotonous roll of sea. I turned, and looked at his face. It was sad, and drawn with care. I am not an ill-natured man, so I said cheerfully, "It's rather gloomy, isn't it?" "Yes," said he sadly,—"yes, it looks very dark to me. When I came out three months ago, it all looked very bright. I'll tell you,' said he. "I'm not an old man, but I have done pretty well and made my pile; and, after her poor mother died, I came out here with my little girl to show her the world and let her enjoy our money. She was just eighteen, and you never saw such a— We went to Rome, and"—He stopped a minute, and I looked out over the sea. "I'm coming home without her. She took the fever,—she took the fever in Rome; and "— He turned suddenly, and stumbled down the companion stair.
I felt lonely now myself, for I knew that it was the soul of a Man that had looked out upon the restless sea with me. How blind I was that I had not seen till then! It was my brother who sat beside me at dinner, very silent, and eating with his knife. I passed him no more forks. One does not mind the little failings of one's friends.