His mother’s face had not always looked so round. He could remember it pale and maidenly, when the cheekbones showed and when it was soft but not fleshy and relatively unpolluted by woe. Mrs. Blodgette wasn’t forty yet. Nothing made her face so luminous as tears could, and she must have been only discovering that this was so. She seemed to make a cosmetic asset of it: no rouge or powder flawed her cheeks, to be caked and corrugated by her tears. The spring twilight gave his mother’s moist skin a near Rubenesque luster, he believed, being strangely moved by colors at this his most formative age. Colors had on him the power of staying his instincts. It was only when he thought he couldn’t stand another word she said that he’d hit her across the mouth. He was callow and high strung; she ought to have known she was putting him under a great strain.

  My poor boy,“she’d been weeping. “It doesn’t matter about me, but when he turns his back on his two sons, then I say it is his black blood coming out. He’s done it before. I knew this would happen.” 

“It’s not, Mah.” 
“My poor boy, what are you going to do?” 
“It’s not black blood.” 
“My poor darling.”