“I was. I am. I will be.
Eh, no doubt
For some sufficient cause, I drift, defer,
Equivocate, dream, hazard, grow more stout,
Age, am no longer Love’s idolater,—
And yet I could and would not live without
Your faith that heartens and your doubts which spur.”
LIONEL CROCHARD. Palinodia.
So weeks and months, and presently irrevocable years, passed tranquilly; and nothing very important seemed to happen nowadays, either for good or ill; and Rudolph Musgrave was content enough.
True, there befell, and with increasing frequency, periods when one must lie abed, and be coaxed into taking interminable medicines, and be ministered unto generally, because one was of a certain age nowadays, and must be prudent. But even such necessities, these underhanded indignities of time, had their alleviations. Trained nurses, for example, were uncommonly well-informed and agreeable young women, when you came to know them—and quite lady-like, too, for all that in our topsy-turvy days these girls had to work for their living. Unthinkable as it seemed, the colonel found that his night-nurse, a Miss Ramsay, was actually by birth a Ramsay of Blenheim; and for a little the discovery depressed him. But to be made much of, upon whatever terms, was always treatment to which the colonel submitted only too docilely. And, besides, in this queer, comfortable, just half-waking state, the colonel found one had the drollest dreams, evolving fancies such as were really a credit to one’s imagination....
For instance, one very often imagined that Patricia was more close at hand nowadays.... No, she was not here in the room, of course, but outside, in the street, at the corner below, where the letterbox stood. Yes, she was undoubtedly there, the colonel reflected drowsily. And they had been so certain her return could only result in unhappiness, and they were so wise, that whilst she waited for her opportunity Patricia herself began to be a little uneasy. She had patrolled the block six times before the chance came.
And it seemed to Rudolph Musgrave, drowsily pleased by his own inventiveness, that Patricia was glad this afternoon was so hot that no one was abroad except the small boy at the corner house, who sat upon the bottom porch-step, and, as children so often do, appeared intently to appraise the world at large with an inexplicable air of disappointment.
“Now think how Rudolph would feel,”—the colonel whimsically played at reading Patricia’s reflection—“if I were to be arrested as a suspicious character—that’s what the newspapers always call them, I think—on his very doorstep! And he must have been home a half-hour ago at least, because I know it’s after five. But the side-gate’s latched, and I can’t ring the door-bell—if only because it would be too ridiculous to have to ask the maid to tell Colonel Musgrave his wife wanted to see him. Besides, I don’t know the new house-girl. I wish now we hadn’t let old Mary go, even though she was so undependable about thorough-cleaning.”