And I’ll stand by you whatever you make up your mind to do,” said the brother,

with rough but well-meaning affectionateness (George Eliot, Middlemarch). And she knows it. She knows that her brother will stand by her. She knows that. She know that her brother will stand by her, just as well as she knows that the trouble that lies ahead for her (mortified exile: death in life), will be so bad that she will hardly be able to feel him standing by her. She counts on it just the same though–like knowing he’ll be there at the airport when you come to pay a visit or your last respects; or knowing that you both have a pretty good idea of what’s venal and what’s virtuous in the other–a better idea, in fact, than anyone else around–and you love each other just the same, knowing all that; or knowing that for all the time you spend trying to best one another, you really do want what’s best (when push comes to peace) for the other. You many not feel the love much–your lives are so different now, and even a phone call is a huge production (you’d think it was like some conference call, across all the long distances, and water under to the bridge, to the God-damned League of Nations, or something) –but you know his number like you know your name, and even though, by your count, it always takes him at least a little longer to get back to you than it should (or is it the other way around?), you know that one way or another, he (or the one who goes by the name of your brother now), eventually will, and always before it’s too late.

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