The old ladies were delighted with their accession to a modest fortune, the matter was turning out well, and they hoped to have their ancient brougham repainted and a quiet horse to draw it, before very long, so that, even when it rained, they could have the pleasure of going to church.
William, the Aunt Roberta added, was really growing a little old for so many duties, and would, under the new and more prosperous regime, confine himself to being only butler. Halcyone would find several changes on her return; among them the four gates had been mended!
As she read this part of the letter, Halcyone almost sighed! The gates, especially the one of the beech avenue, had always been such friends of hers, she knew and loved each crack. And then her thoughts wandered, as ever, to her lover. Where was he and how had it fared with him? Her serene calm was not disturbed—she felt certainty in every breath of the soft warm air—the certainty that the springtime of their souls had come.
Now, that same morning, John Derringham had arrived at the Grand Hotel, and, after breakfasting, had made his way to the hotel to which Mrs. Porrit had informed him the Professor’s letters were to be addressed. And Demetrius, whom he asked for, hearing Mr. Carlyon was out, was able to give him information as to where his master had gone; so that he set off at once.
The Palace of the Caesars was rather a labyrinth to expect to find anybody in, but he would do his best. And so it happened, after about an hour’s search, that he came upon Cheiron alone, just as he reached Livia’s house.
Mr. Carlyon held out his hand.
“Well, John,” he said, “and so we meet again.”
His old pupil shook it heartily, and Cheiron, seeing that joyous light in his eyes, raised his left penthouse with a whimsical smile.
“Got clear of the Octopus, I should imagine,” he said laconically. “Well, better late than never—Halcyone is over on the bench under the cypress, gazing upon the Tarpeian rock; perhaps you may like to go to her—” and he pointed in that direction.
“It is what I have come at post-haste from Venice to do, Master,” John Derringham said. “Mrs. Cricklander was kind enough to release me on Saturday evening—she has other views, it seems!”—and he laughed with his old boyish gayety.
“Well, I won’t keep you,” Cheiron answered. “Bring my little girl back to the hotel when these gates shut. No doubt you will have enough to talk about till then,” and he smiled benignly.
“You will give us your blessing, Master?” John Derringham asked. But the Professor growled as he turned to go on.
“She has my blessing always,” he said, “and you will have it, too, if you make her happy, but you don’t deserve her, you know, John.”
John Derringham drew himself up and looked straight out in front of him—his face was moved.
“I know I do not,” he said, “but I hope you believe me, Cheiron, when I tell you that I mean to devote the rest of my life to attain that object—and at least no man could worship her more.”