“So you think I should have made a jolly tyrannical slave-owner?” said Delafield, after a moment’s pause.
Julie bent towards him with a charming look of appeal—almost of penitence. “On the contrary, I think you would have been as good to your slaves as you are to your friends.”
His eyes met hers quietly.
“Thank you. That was kind of you. And as to giving orders, and getting one’s way, don’t suppose I let Chudleigh’s estate go to ruin! It’s only”—he hesitated—“the small personal tyrannies of every day that I’d like to minimize. They brutalize half the fellows I know.”
“You’ll come to them,” said Julie, absently. Then she colored, suddenly remembering the possible dukedom that awaited him.
His brow contracted a little, as though he understood. He made no reply. Julie, with her craving to be approved—to say what pleased—could not leave it there.
“I wish I understood,” she said, softly, after a moment, “what, or who it was that gave you these opinions.”
Getting still no answer, she must perforce meet the gray eyes bent upon her, more expressively, perhaps, than their owner knew. “That you shall understand,” he said, after a minute, in a voice which was singularly deep and full, “whenever you choose to ask.”
Julie shrank and drew back.
“Very well,” she said, trying to speak lightly. “I’ll hold you to that. Alack! I had forgotten a letter I must write.”
And she pretended to write it, while Delafield buried himself in the newspapers.
Julie’s curiosity—passing and perfunctory as it was—concerning the persons and influences that had worked upon Jacob Delafield since his college days, was felt in good earnest by not a few of Delafield’s friends. For he was a person rich in friends, reserved as he generally was, and crotchety as most of them thought him. The mixture of self-evident strength and manliness in his physiognomy with something delicate and evasive, some hindering element of reflection or doubt, was repeated in his character. On the one side he was a robust, healthy Etonian, who could ride, shoot, and golf like the rest of his kind, who used the terse, slangy ways of speech of the ordinary Englishman, who loved the land and its creatures, and had a natural hatred for a poacher; and on another he was a man haunted by dreams and spiritual voices, a man for whom, as he paced his tired horse homeward after a day’s run, there would rise on the grays and purples of the winter dusk far-shining “cities of God” and visions of a better life for man. He read much poetry, and the New Testament spoke to him imperatively, though in no orthodox or accustomed way. Ruskin, and the earlier work of Tolstoy, then just beginning to take hold of the English mind, had affected his thought and imagination, as the generation before him had been affected by Carlyle, Emerson, and George Sand.