’This is not the time to ask, when you have just come to see me;—when I am so delighted to see you! Oh, it is such a pleasure! I have not had a nice word spoken to me since I left the Goldfinder. Come and take a walk in the gardens? Nobody knows me off the stage yet, and nobody knows you. So we can do just as we like. Come and tell me about the gold.’
He did go, and did tell her about the gold, and before he had been with her an hour, sitting about on the benches in that loveliest of all places, the public gardens at Sydney, he was almost happy with her. It was now late in the autumn, in May; but the end of the autumn in Sydney is the most charming time of the year. He spent the whole day with her, dining with her in her lodgings at five in order that he might take her to the theatre at seven. She had said a great deal to him about her performances, declaring that he would find them to be neither vulgar nor disagreeable. She told him that she had no friend in Sydney, but that she had been able to get an engagement for a fortnight at Melbourne, and had been very shortly afterwards pressed to come on to Sydney. She listened not only with patience, but apparently with the greatest pleasure, to all that he could tell her of Dick Shand, and Mr. Crinkett, and Mick Maggott, arousing herself quite to enthusiasm when he came to the finding of the gold. But there was not a word said the whole day as to their future combined prospects. Nor was there any more outspoken allusion to loves and darlings, or any repetition of that throwing herself into his arms. For once it was natural. If she were wanted thus again, the action must be his,—not hers. She was clever enough to know that.
‘What do you think of it?’ she said, when he waited to take her home.
‘It is the only good dancing I ever saw in my life. But——’
‘I will tell you to-morrow.’
’Tell me whatever you think and you will see that I will attend to you. Come about eleven,—not sooner, as I shall not be dressed. Now good-night.’
The letter which Caldigate wrote to his father from Ahalala, telling him of the discovery of gold upon their claim, contained the first tidings which reached Folking of the wanderer, and that was not received till seven or eight months had passed by since he left the place. The old Squire, during that time, had lived a very solitary life. In regard to his nephew, whom he had declared his purpose of partially adopting, he had expressed himself willing to pay for his education, but had not proposed to receive him at Folking. And as to that matter of heirship, he gave his brother to understand that it was not to be regarded as a settled thing. Folking was now his own to do what he liked with it, and as such it was to remain. But he would treat his nephew as a son while the nephew seemed to him to merit such