PART IV. The White Mulberry Tree
3. CHAPTER III
One evening, a week after Signa's wedding, Emil was kneeling before
a box in the sitting-room, packing his books. From time to time
he rose and wandered about the house, picking up stray volumes and
bringing them listlessly back to his box. He was packing without
enthusiasm. He was not very sanguine about his future. Alexandra
sat sewing by the table. She had helped him pack his trunk in
the afternoon. As Emil came and went by her chair with his books,
he thought to himself that it had not been so hard to leave his
sister since he first went away to school. He was going directly
to Omaha, to read law in the office of a Swedish lawyer until
October, when he would enter the law school at Ann Arbor. They
had planned that Alexandra was to come to Michigan--a long journey
for her--at Christmas time, and spend several weeks with him.
Nevertheless, he felt that this leavetaking would be more final
than his earlier ones had been; that it meant a definite break with
his old home and the beginning of something new--he did not know
what. His ideas about the future would not crystallize; the more
he tried to think about it, the vaguer his conception of it became.
But one thing was clear, he told himself; it was high time that he
made good to Alexandra, and that ought to be incentive enough to
As he went about gathering up his books he felt as if he were
uprooting things. At last he threw himself down on the old slat
lounge where he had slept when he was little, and lay looking up
at the familiar cracks in the ceiling.
"Tired, Emil?" his sister asked.
"Lazy," he murmured, turning on his side and looking at her. He
studied Alexandra's face for a long time in the lamplight. It had
never occurred to him that his sister was a handsome woman until
Marie Shabata had told him so. Indeed, he had never thought of
her as being a woman at all, only a sister. As he studied her bent
head, he looked up at the picture of John Bergson above the lamp.
"No," he thought to himself, "she didn't get it there. I suppose
I am more like that."