‘It is quite unnecessary,’ said Caldigate.
‘She will probably have something at my death,’ rejoined the old man.
‘And when may I see her?’ asked Caldigate.
In answer to that Mr. Bolton would not at first make any suggestion whatsoever,—falling back upon his old fears, and declaring that there could be no such meetings at all, but at last allowing that the lover should discuss the matter with his son Robert.
‘Perhaps I may have been mistaken about the young man Caldigate,’ the banker said to his wife that night.
‘I only say that perhaps I may have been mistaken.’
‘You are not thinking of Hester?’
’I said nothing about Hester then;—but perhaps I may have been mistaken in my opinion about that young man John Caldigate.’
John Caldigate, as he rode home after his interview at the bank, almost felt that he had cleared away many difficulties, and that, by his perseverance, he might probably be enabled to carry out the dream of his earlier youth.
After that Caldigate did not allow the grass to grow under his feet, and before the end of November the two young people were engaged. As Robert Bolton had said, Hester was of course flattered and of course delighted with this new joy. John Caldigate was just the man to recommend himself to such a girl, not too light, not too prone to pleasure, not contenting himself with bicycles, cricket matches, or billiards, and yet not wholly given to serious matters as had been those among whom she had hitherto passed her days. And he was one who could speak of his love with soft winning words, neither roughly nor yet with too much of shame-faced diffidence. And when he told her how he had sworn to himself after seeing her that once,—that once when all before him in life was enveloped in doubt and difficulty,—that he would come home and make her his wife, she thought that the manly constancy of his heart was almost divine. Of course she loved him with all her heart. He was in all respects one made to be loved by a woman;—and then what else had she ever had to love? When once it was arranged that he should be allowed to speak to her, the thing was done. She did not at once tell him that it was done. She took some few short halcyon weeks to dally with the vow which her heart was ready to make; but those around her knew that the vow had been inwardly made; and those who were anxious on her behalf with a new anxiety, with a new responsibility, redoubled their inquiries as to John Caldigate. How would Robert Bolton or Mrs. Robert excuse themselves to that frightened miserable mother if at last it should turn out that John Caldigate was not such as they had represented him to be?