“Was it likely? I was proud and you were blind, so we missed the best. We lost our youth and I very nearly lost my soul. After you left, nothing seemed to matter but enjoying myself as best I could. I hated the thought of growing old, and I looked at the painted, restless faces round me and wondered if they were afraid too. Then I thought I would marry and have more of a reason for living. A man offered himself—a man with a great position—and I accepted him and it was worse than ever, so I fled from it all—to Priorsford. I loved it from the first, the little town and the river and the hills, and Bella Bathgate’s grim honesty and poor cookery! And you came into my life again and I found I couldn’t marry the other man and his position....”
“Pamela, can you really marry a fool like me? ... It’s my fault that we’ve missed so much, but thank God we haven’t missed everything. I think I could make you happy. I wouldn’t ask you to stay at Laverlaw for more than a month or two at a time. We would live in London if you wanted to. I could stick even London if I had you.”
Pamela looked at him with laughter in her eyes.
“And you couldn’t say fairer than that, my dear. No, no, Lewis. If I marry you we’ll live at Laverlaw I love your green glen already; it’s a place after my own heart. We won’t trouble London much, but spend our declining years among the sheep—unless you become suddenly ambitious for public honours and, as Mrs. Hope desires, enter Parliament.”
“There’s no saying what I may do now. Already I feel twice the man I was.”
They talked in the firelight and Pamela said: “I’m not sure that our happiness won’t be the greater because it has come twenty years late. Twenty years ago we would have taken it pretty much as a matter of course. We would have rushed at our happiness and swallowed it whole, so to speak. Now, with twenty lonely, restless years behind us we shall go slowly, and taste every moment and be grateful. Years bring their compensation.... It’s a funny world. It’s a nice, funny world.”
“I think,” said Lewis, “I know something of what Jacob must have felt after he had served all the years and at last took Rachel by the hand—”
“‘Served’ is good,” said Pamela in mocking tones.
But her eyes were tender.
“It was high spring, and, all the
Primrosed and hung with shade....”
“There is no private house in which people can enjoy themselves so well as at a capital tavern.... No, Sir, there is nothing which has yet been contrived by man by which so much happiness is produced as by a good tavern or inn.”—DR. JOHNSON.
Pamela and David between them carried the day, and a motor-car was bought. It was not the small useful car talked about at first, but one which had greatly taken the fancy of the Jardine family in the showroom—a large landaulette of a well-known make, upholstered in palest fawn, fitted with every newest device, very sumptuous and very shiny.