The Professor coughed violently; his spectacles had grown dim.
Then Halcyone rubbed her soft cheek against his old withered hand.
“You knew it, of course, Master,” she said very softly. “I loved him always and I love him still—and, if I have forgiven any hurt which he brought me, surely it need not stand against him with you. To-night—oh, he is suffering so! I cannot bear that there should be one shadow going to him that I can take away. Cheiron, promise me you won’t think hardly ever any more—promise me, Cheiron, dear!”
The Professor’s voice was almost the growl of a bear—but Halcyone knew he meant to acquiesce.
“Cheiron,” she whispered, while she caressed his stiff fingers, “the winter of our souls is almost past. I feel and know the spring is near at hand.”
“I hope to God it is,” Mr. Carlyon said, very low.
Next day they moved on into Italy, crossing the frontier and stopping the night at Turin where they proposed to hire a motor. From thence they intended to get down to Genoa to continue their pilgrimage. It was not such an easy matter, in those few years ago, as it is now to hire a motor, but one was promised to them at last—and off they started. Halcyone took the greatest interest in everything in that quaint and grand old town. Her keen judgment and that faculty she possessed of always seeing everything from the simplest standpoint of truth made her an ideal companion to wander with on this journey of cultured ease.
“How strong a place this seems, Cheiron,” she said, after two days of their sight-seeing. “All the spirits at the zenith of Genoa’s greatness were strong—nothing weak or ascetic. They must have been filled with gratitude to God for giving them this beautiful life, those old patrons of decoration. There is nothing cheap or hurried; it is all an appreciation of the magnificence due to their noble station and their pride of race. For the Guelphist of them seems to have been an aristocrat and an autocrat in his personal menage. Is it not so, Master?”
“I dare say,” agreed Cheiron. He was watching with deep interest for her verdict upon things.
“It gives me the impression of solid riches,” she went on, “the encouragement of looms of costly stuffs, the encouragement for workers in marble, in bronze, in frescoes, all the material gorgeous, tangible pleasures of sight and touch. It is not poetic; it inspires admiration for great deeds, victorious navies, triumphs—banquets—I have no sense of music here except the music of feasting. I have no sense of poetry except of odes to famous admirals or party leaders, and yet it is a great joy in its way and a noble monument to the proud manhood of the past.” And she looked down from the balcony of the Palazzo Reale, where they were standing, into the town below.
Her thoughts had gone as ever to the man she loved. He had this haughty spirit—he could have lived in those days—and she saw him a Doria, a Brignole-Sale or a Pallavicini, gorgeous, masterful and magnificent. England in the present day was surely a supplice for such an arrogant spirit as that of John Derringham.