“It strikes me there’s only one suitable plan,” he said. “I know something about western farming. I wouldn’t need a salary; and Sylvia could trust me to look after her interests. I’d better go out and take charge until things are straightened up, or we come across somebody fit for the post.”
Herbert heard him with satisfaction. He had desired to lead George up to this decision, and he suspected that Sylvia had made similar efforts. It was not difficult to instil an idea into his cousin’s mind.
“Well,” he said thoughtfully, “the suggestion seems a good one; though it’s rather hard on you, if you really mean to go.”
“That’s decided,” was the brief answer.
“Then, though we can discuss details later, you had better give me legal authority to look after your affairs while you are away. There are those Kaffir shares, for instance; it might be well to part with them if, they go up a point or two.”
“I’ve wondered why you recommended me to buy them,” George said bluntly.
Herbert avoided a direct answer. He now and then advised George, who knew little about business, in the management of his property, but his advice was not always disinterested or intended only for his cousin’s benefit.
“Oh,” he replied, “the cleverest operators now and then make mistakes, and I don’t claim exceptional powers of precision. It’s remarkably difficult to forecast the tendency of the stock-market.”
George nodded, as if satisfied.
“I’ll arrange things before I sail, and I’d better get off as soon as possible. Now, suppose we go down and join the others.”
HIS FRIENDS’ OPINION
On the afternoon following his arrival, George stood thoughtfully looking about on his cousin’s lawn. Creepers flecked the mellow brick front of the old house with sprays of tender leaves; purple clematis hung from a trellis; and lichens tinted the low terrace wall with subdued coloring. The grass was flanked by tall beeches, rising in masses of bright verdure against a sky of clearest blue; and beyond it, across the sparkling river, smooth meadows ran back to the foot of the hills. It was, in spite of the bright sunshine, all so fresh and cool: a picture that could be enjoyed only in rural England.
George was sensible of the appeal it made to him; now, when he must shortly change such scenes for the wide levels of western Canada, which are covered during most of the year with harsh, gray grass, alternately withered by frost and sun, he felt their charm. It was one thing to run across to Norway on a fishing or mountaineering trip and come back when he wished, but quite another to settle down on the prairie where he must remain until his work should be done. Moreover, for Mrs. Lansing had many friends, the figures scattered about the lawn—young men and women in light summer attire—enhanced the attractiveness of the surroundings. They were nice people, with pleasant English ways; and George contrasted them with the rather grim, aggressive plainsmen among whom he would presently have to live: men who toiled in the heat, half naked, and who would sit down to meals with him in dusty, unwashed clothes. He was not a sybarite, but he preferred the society of Mrs. Lansing’s guests.