“I’m not,” said Sarah quietly. “If Mary wasn’t so tiresome and silly those sort of things wouldn’t happen. She makes me——”
Mrs. Kitson’s horror deprived her of all speech, so Sarah, after one more glance of amused cynicism about the room, retired.
As she crossed the Square she knew, with happy relief, that she was free of Mary, that she need never bother about her again. Would all the people whom she compelled to obey her hang round her with all their stupidities afterwards? If so, life was not going to be so entertaining as she had hoped. In her dark little brain already was the perception of the trouble that good and stupid souls can cause to bold and reckless ones. She would never bother with any one so feeble as Mary again, but, unless she did, how was she ever to have any fun again?
Then as she climbed the stairs to her room, she was aware of something else.
“I’ve caught you, after all. You have been soft. You’ve yielded to your better nature. Try as you may you can’t get right away from it. Now you’ll have to reckon with me more than ever. You see you’re not stronger than I am.”
Before she opened the door of her room she knew that she would find Him there, triumphant.
With a gesture of impatient irritation she pushed the door open.
YOUNG JOHN SCARLETT
That fatal September—the September that was to see young John take his adventurous way to his first private school—surely, steadily approached.
Mrs. Scarlett, an emotional and sentimental little woman, vibrating and taut like a telegraph wire, told herself repeatedly that she would make no sign. The preparations proceeded, the date—September 23rd—was constantly evoked, a dreadful ghost, by the careless, light-hearted family. Mr. Scarlett made no sign.
From the hour of John’s birth—nearly ten years ago—Mrs. Scarlett had never known a day when she had not been compelled to control her sentimental affections. From the first John had been an adorable baby, from the first he had followed his father in the rejection of all sentiment as un-English, and even if larger questions are involved, unpatriotic, but also from the first he had hinted, in surprising, furtive, agitating moments, at poetry, imagination, hidden, romantic secrets. Tom, May, Clare, the older children, had never been known to hint at anything—hints were not at all in their line, and of imagination they had not, between them, enough to fill a silver thimble—they were good, sturdy, honest children, with healthy stomachs and an excellent determination to do exactly the things that their class and generation were bent upon doing. Mrs. Scarlett was fond of them, of course, and because she was a sentimental woman she was sometimes quite needlessly emotional about them, but John—no. John was of another world.