“That is right,” she said warmly.
“It is not right,” declared Keith, with sudden vehemence. “It is all wrong. I know it is all wrong.”
“What the world thinks is right can’t be all wrong.” Mrs. Yorke spoke decisively.
“When are you going away?” the young man asked suddenly.
“In a few days.” She spoke vaguely, but even as she spoke, she determined to leave next day.
“I thank you for all your kindness to me,” said Keith, standing very straight and speaking rather hoarsely.
Mrs. Yorke’s heart smote her. If it were not for her daughter’s welfare she could have liked this boy and befriended him. A vision came to her from out of the dim past; a country boy with broad shoulders suddenly flashed before her; but she shut it off before it became clear. She spoke kindly to Keith, and held out her hand to him with more real sincerity than she had felt in a long time.
“You are a good boy,” she said, “and I wish I could have answered you otherwise, but it would have been simple madness. You will some day know that it was kinder to you to make you look nakedly at facts.”
“I suppose so,” said Keith, politely. “But some day, Mrs. Yorke, you shall hear of me. If you do not, remember I shall be dead.”
With this bit of tragedy he turned and left her, and Mrs. Yorke stood and watched him as he strode down the path, meaning, if he should turn, to wave him a friendly adieu, and also watching lest that which she had dreaded for a quarter of an hour might happen. It would be dreadful if her daughter should meet him now. He did not turn, however, and when at last he disappeared, Mrs. Yorke, with a sigh of relief, went up to her room and began to write rapidly.
MRS. YORKE CUTS THE KNOT
When Alice Yorke came from her jaunt, she had on her face an expression of pleasant anticipation. She had been talking to Dr. Balsam, and he had said things about Gordon Keith that had made her cheeks tingle. “Of the best blood of two continents,” he had said of him. “He has the stuff that has made England and America.” The light of real romance was beginning to envelop her.
As she entered the hall she met Mrs. Nailor. Mrs. Nailor smiled at her knowingly, much as a cat, could she smile, might smile at a mouse.
“I think your mother is out on the far end of the verandah. I saw her there a little while ago talking with your friend, the young schoolmaster. What a nice young man he is? Quite uncommon, isn’t he?”
Alice gave a little start. “The young schoolmaster” indeed!
“Yes, I suppose so. I don’t know.” She hated Mrs. Nailor with her quiet, cat-like manner and inquisitive ways. She now hated her more than ever, for she was conscious that she was blushing and that Mrs. Nailor observed it.
“Your mother is very interested in schools? Yes? I think that is nice in her? So few persons appreciate education?” Her air was absolute innocence.