David Dalziel also was in a very trouble-some mood, quite unusual for him. He came and went, complained bitterly that the girls were not allowed to go out with him; abused the place, the climate, and did all those sort of bearish things which young gentlemen are sometimes in the habit of doing, when—when that wicked little boy whom they read about at school and college makes himself known to them as a pleasant, or unpleasant, reality.
Miss Williams, whom, I am afraid, was far too simple a woman for the new generation, which has become so extraordinarily wise and wide-awake, opened her eyes and wondered why David was so unlike his usual self. Mr. Roy, too, to whom he behaved worse than to any one else, only the elder man quietly ignored it all, and was very patient and gentle with the restless, ill-tempered boy—Mr. Roy even remarked that he thought David would be happier at his work again; idling was a bad thing for young fellows at his age, or any age.
At last it came out, the bitterness which rankled in the poor lad’s breast; with another secret, which, foolish woman that she was, Miss Williams had never in the smallest degree suspected. Very odd that she had not, but so it was. We all find it difficult to realize the moment when our children cease to be children. Still more difficult is it for very serious and earnest natures to recognize that there are other natures who take things in a totally different way, and yet it may be the right and natural way for them. Such is the fact; we must learn it, and the sooner we learn it, the better.
One day, when the rain had a little abated, David appeared, greatly disappointed to find the girls had gone out, down to the West Sands with Mr. Roy.
“Always Mr. Roy! I am sick of his very name,” muttered David, and then caught Miss Williams by the dress as she was rising. She had a gentle but rather dignified way with her of repressing bad manners in young people, either by perfect silence, or by putting the door between her and them. “Don’t go! One never can get a quiet word with you, you are always so preternaturally busy.”
It was true. To be always busy was her only shield against—certain things which the young man was never likely to know, and would not understand if he did know.
“Do sit down, if you ever can sit down, for a minute,” said he, imploringly; “I want to speak to you seriously, very seriously.”
She sat down, a little uneasy. The young fellow was such a good fellow; and yet he might have got into a scrape of some sort. Debt, perhaps, for he was a trifle extravagant; but then life had been all roses to him. He had never known a want since he was born.
“Speak, then, David; I am listening. Nothing very wrong, I hope!” said she, with a smile.
“Nothing at all wrong, only—When is Mr. Roy going away”?
The question was so unexpected that she felt her color changing a little; not much, she was too old for that.