“By why should that pain you, my dear Septimus?” asked Zora.
“They said I was incompetent,” he murmured, brokenly, “and took away my commission. The colonel said I was a disgrace to the service.”
Clem Sypher smote the arm of his chair and started up in his wrath.
“By heavens! I’ll make the blundering idiot eat his words. I’ll ram them down his throat with the cleaner of the new gun. I’ll make you the biggest ornament the service ever possessed. I’ll devote my existence to it! The Dix gun shall wipe humanity off the face of the earth!”
“I don’t want it to do that,” said Septimus, meekly.
Zora begged his forgiveness very sweetly for her indiscretion, and having comforted him with glowing prophecies of fame and domestic happiness, went home with a full heart. She loved Sypher for his generous outburst. She was deeply touched by Septimus’s tragic story, but having a sense of humor she could not repress a smile at the thought of Septimus in uniform, handling a battery of artillery.
Cousin Jane was for packing her boxes and departing, but Zora bade her remain until her own plans were settled. As soon as Emmy arrived she would have to go to London and play fairy godmother, a proceeding which might take up considerable time. Mrs. Oldrieve commended her beneficent intention, and besought her to bring the irreligiously wedded pair to the Vicar, and have them wedded in a respectable, Anglican way. She was firmly convinced that if this were done, nothing more could possibly be heard of separate lives. Zora promised to do her best, but Cousin Jane continued to sniff. It would be far better, she declared, to shut the man up in an idiot asylum and bring Emmy to Nunsmere, where the child could have a decent upbringing. Zora dissented loftily, but declined to be led into a profitless argument.
“All I ask of you, my dear Jane,” said she, “is to take care of mother a little longer while I do what I consider my duty.”
She did not inform Cousin Jane that a certain freedom of movements was also rendered desirable by what she considered her duty to Clem Sypher. Cousin Jane lacked the finer threads of apprehension, and her comments might have been crude. When Zora announced her intention to Sypher of leading a migratory existence between London and Nunsmere for the sakes of Emmy and himself, he burst into a panegyric on her angelic nature. Her presence would irradiate these last dark days of disaster, for the time was quickly approaching when the Bermondsey factory would be closed down, and Sypher’s Cure would fade away from the knowledge of men.
“Have you thought of the future—of what you are going to do?” she asked.
“No,” said he, “but I have faith in my destiny.”
Zora felt this to be magnificent, but scarcely practical.
“You’ll be without resources?”