“Then it wasn’t to much purpose. Don’t you see what you want to bring me to? Can’t you realize what I should have to give up? How could we ever manage on the little we have?”
The man frowned. He was sorry for her and somewhat ashamed, but she jarred on him in her present mood.
“I believe people who were sufficiently fond of each other have often got along pretty satisfactorily on less, even in the Service. It’s a matter of keen regret to me that you will have to make a sacrifice, but things are not quite so bad as they look, and there’s reason for believing they may get better. You will have as pleasant society as you enjoy now; my friends will stand by my wife.” A look of pride crept into his face. “I dare say they have their failings, but they’ll only expect charm from you, and you can give it to them. They won’t value you by the display you make or your possessions. We’re free from that taint.”
“But have you considered what you must give up?”
Bland had hardly expected this, but he smiled.
“Oh, yes. I spent an evening over it and I was a little surprised to find how many things there were I could readily do without. In fact, it was a most instructive evening. The next day I wrote a bundle of letters, resigning from clubs I rarely went to, and canceling orders for odds and ends I hadn’t the least real use for. But I’ll confess that I’ve derived a good deal more pleasure from thinking of how much I shall get.”
Sylvia was touched, but she did not mean to yield too readily.
“It would be dreadfully imprudent.”
“Just so; one has often to take a risk. It’s rather exciting to fling prudence overboard. I want to fix my whole attention on the fact that we love each other!” Bland glanced at his watch. “Now it strikes me that we have been sufficiently practical, and as I must start back to-night, I haven’t much time left. Don’t you think it would be a pity to waste it?”
He drew her down beside him on a lounge and Sylvia surrendered. After all, the man had made a good defense and, as far as her nature permitted, she had grown fond of him.
GEORGE MAKES UP HIS MIND
Dusk was closing in when George and Edgar alighted at a little English station. Casting an eager glance about, George was disappointed to see nobody from his cousin’s house waiting to meet him. In another moment, however, he was warmly greeted by Ethel West.
“A very hearty welcome, George,” she said. “You’re looking very fit, but thinner than you were when you left us. Stephen’s waiting outside. He told Muriel we would drive you over; Herbert’s away somewhere.”
“How’s everybody?” George inquired.
“Sylvia looked as charming as ever when I last saw her a few days ago,” Ethel answered with a smile, which George was too eager to notice was somewhat forced. “The rest of us, are much as usual. But come along; we’ll send over afterward for your heavy things.”