“What else can be done, dear?” she replied gently. “There is no choice otherwise, except for them to separate.”
He looked at the culprits with an expression of bewilderment. Why should their little love affair be regarded as being of such tragic consequence, he seemed to ask. What did they mean to him and his wife and daughter? Why should they be considered worthy of what he could only picture as a supreme, and almost intolerable sacrifice? These young people were always having love affairs.
He thrust his inquiry bluntly at Brenda. “Are you in earnest, then, Miss Brenda?” he asked. “D’you tell me that you want to marry him—that you’re set on it?”
“I mean to marry him whatever happens,” Brenda replied in a low voice. She was still abashed by this public discussion of her secrets. And it was probably with some idea of diverting him from this intimate probing of her desires that she continued more boldly. “We would go off together, without your consent, you know, if we thought it would do any good. But it wouldn’t, would it? They’d probably be more spiteful still, if we did that. Even if they could keep it dark, they’d never let you stay on here. But do you really think it would be so awful for us all to go to Canada together? It’s a wrench, of course, but I expect it would be frightfully jolly when we got there. Arthur says it is.”
He turned from her with the least hint of contempt to look at his son. “You’ve lost your place a’ready, I suppose?” he said, trying to steady himself by some familiar contact, an effort that would have been absurd if it had not been so pathetic.
Arthur nodded, as stolid as an owl.
His father continued to search him with the same half-bewildered stare.
“What are you going to do, then?” he asked.
“She and I are going back, whatever happens.” Arthur said.
“And suppose they won’t let her go?”
“They’ll have to.”
“Have to!” Banks recited, raising his voice at the repetition of this foolish phrase. “And how in the world are you going to make ’em?”
“The Jervaises aren’t everybody,” Arthur growled.
“You’ll find they’re a sight too strong for the like of us to go against,” Banks affirmed threateningly.
Arthur looked stubborn and shook his head. “They aren’t what you think they are, father,” he began, and then, seeing the incredulity on the old man’s face, he went on in a slightly raised voice, “Well, I know they aren’t. I’ve been up there twice to-day. I saw Mr. Jervaise this morning; went to the front door and asked for him, and when I saw him I put it to him straight that I meant to—that we were going to get married.”
“You did,” murmured Banks in an undertone of grieved dismay.
“I did, father,” Arthur proceeded; “and if it hadn’t been for young Mr. Frank, we’d have come to some sort of understanding. Mr. Jervaise didn’t actually say ‘No,’ as it was.”