“Yes,” he said.
Gerald came to Silverside two or three times during the early summer, arriving usually on Friday and remaining until the following Monday morning.
All his youthful admiration and friendship for Selwyn had returned; that was plainly evident—and with it something less of callow self-sufficiency. He did not appear to be as cock-sure of himself and the world as he had been; there was less bumptiousness about him, less aggressive complacency. Somewhere and somehow somebody or something had come into collision with him; but who or what this had been he did not offer to confide in Selwyn; and the older man, dreading to disturb the existing accord between them, forbore to question him or invite, even indirectly, any confidence not offered.
Selwyn had slowly become conscious of this change in Gerald. In the boy’s manner toward others there seemed to be hints of that seriousness which maturity or the first pressure of responsibility brings, even to the more thoughtless. Plainly enough some experience, not wholly agreeable, was teaching him the elements of consideration for others; he was less impulsive, more tolerant; yet, at times, Selwyn and Eileen also noticed that he became very restless toward the end of his visits at Silverside; as though something in the city awaited him—some duty, or responsibility not entirely pleasant.
There was, too, something of soberness, amounting, at moments, to discontented listlessness—not solitary brooding; for at such moments he stuck to Selwyn, following him about and remaining rather close to him, as though the elder man’s mere presence was a comfort—even a protection.
At such intervals Selwyn longed to invite the boy’s confidence, knowing that he had some phase of life to face for which his experience was evidently inadequate. But Gerald gave no sign of invitation; and Selwyn dared not speak lest he undo what time and his forbearance were slowly repairing.
So their relations remained during the early summer; and everybody supposed that Gerald’s two weeks’ vacation would be spent there at Silverside. Apparently the boy himself thought so, too, for he made some plans ahead, and Austin sent down a very handsome new motor-boat for him.
Then, at the last minute, a telegram arrived, saying that he had sailed for Newport on Neergard’s big yacht! And for two weeks no word was received from him at Silverside.
Late in August, however, he wrote a rather colourless letter to Selwyn, saying that he was tired and would be down for the week-end.
He came, thinner than usual, with the city pallor showing through traces of the sea tan. And it appeared that he was really tired; for he seemed inclined to lounge on the veranda, satisfied as long as Selwyn remained in sight. But, when Selwyn moved, he got up and followed.