Gentle Julia (Chapter Four, page 1 of 11)


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Mrs. Dill, Noble's mother, talked of organizing a Young Men's Mothers' Club against Julia, nevertheless she acknowledged that in one solitary way Noble was being improved by the experience. His two previous attacks of love (one at twelve, and the other at eighteen) had been incomparably lighter, and the changes in him, noted at home, merely a slight general irritability and a lack of domestic punctuality due to too much punctuality elsewhere. But, when his Julia Atwater trouble came, the very first symptom he manifested was a strange new effort to become beautiful; his mother even discovered that he sometimes worked with pumice stone upon the cigarette stains on his fingers.

The most curious thing about his condition was that for a long time he took it for granted that his family did not know what was the matter with him; and this shows as nothing else could the meekness and tact of the Dills; for, excluding bad cooks and the dangerously insane, the persons most disturbing to the serenity of households are young lovers. But the world has had to accommodate itself to them because young lovers cannot possibly accommodate themselves to the world. For the young lover there is no general life of the species; for him the universe is a delicate blush under a single bonnet. He has but an irritated perception of every vital thing in nature except the vital thing under this bonnet; all else is trivial intrusion. But whatever does concern the centrifugal bonnet, whatever concerns it in the remotest--ah, then he springs to life! So Noble Dill sat through a Sunday dinner at home, seemingly drugged to a torpor, while the family talk went on about him; but when his father, in the course of some remarks upon politics, happened to mention the name of the county-treasurer, Charles J. Patterson, Noble's startled attention to the conversation was so conspicuous as to be disconcerting. Mrs. Dill signalled with her head that comment should be omitted, and Mr. Dill became, for the moment, one factor in a fairly clear example of telepathic communication, for it is impossible to believe that his wife's almost imperceptible gesture was what caused him to remember that Charles J. Patterson was Julia Atwater's uncle.

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