“Yes,” said the girl, “I suppose I do.”
“Idleness and all? You were rather severe on idleness at one time.”
“He isn’t idle any more,” said she. “He has undertaken—of his own accord—to find Arthur. He has some theory about it; and he is not going to see me again until he has succeeded—or until a year is past. If he fails, I fancy he won’t come back.”
Old David gave a sudden hoarse exclamation, and his withered hands shook and stirred before him. Afterward he fell to half-inarticulate muttering.
“The young romantic fool!—Don Quixote—like all the rest of them—those Ste. Maries. The fool and the angels. The angels and the fool.”
The girl distinguished words from time to time. For the most part, he mumbled under his breath. But when he had been silent a long time, he said, suddenly:
“It would be ridiculously like him to succeed.”
The girl gave a little sigh.
“I wish I dared hope for it,” said she. “I wish I dared hope for it.”
She had left a book that she wanted in the drawing-room, and, when presently her grandfather fell asleep in his fitful manner, she went down after it. In crossing the hall she came upon Captain Stewart, who was dressed for the street and had his hat and stick in his hands. He did not live in his father’s house, for he had a little flat in the rue du Faubourg St. Honore, but he was in and out a good deal. He paused when he saw his niece, and smiled upon her a benignant smile which she rather disliked, because she disliked benignant people. The two really saw very little of each other, though Captain Stewart often sat for hours together with his sister, up in a little boudoir which she had furnished in the execrable taste which to her meant comfort, while that timid and colorless lady embroidered strange tea cloths with stranger flora, and prattled about the heathen, in whom she had an academic interest.
He said: “Ah, my dear! It’s you?”
Indisputably it was, and there seemed to be no use of denying it, so Miss Benham said nothing, but waited for the man to go on if he had more to say.
“I dropped in,” he continued, “to see my father, but they told me he was asleep, and so I didn’t disturb him. I talked a little while with your mother instead.”
“I have just come from him,” said Miss Benham. “He dozed off again as I left. Still, if you had anything in particular to tell him, he’d be glad to be wakened, I fancy. There’s no news?”
“No,” said Captain Stewart, sadly—“no, nothing. I do not give up hope, but I am, I confess, a little discouraged.”
“We are all that, I should think,” said Miss Benham, briefly.