She paused—a mere breathing-space; her free hand caressed his hair. (This time, he did not shift his head.) “I’m utterly sure about Mother. You see ... she knows ... we’ve talked about it. We’re like sisters, almost. As for Father ... well, we’re less intimate. I did fancy he seemed the wee-est bit relieved when ... your news came....” The pain in his eyes checked her. “My blessed one, I won’t have you daring to worry about it. I’m feeling simply beyond myself with happiness and pride. Mother will be overjoyed. She realises ... a little ... what I’ve been through. Of course—in our talks, she has told me frankly what tragedies often come from mixing such ‘mighty opposites.’ But she said all of you were quite exceptional. And she knows about such things. And she’s the point. She can always square Father if—there’s any need. So just be quiet—inside!”
“But ... that day,” he persisted, Roy-like, “you didn’t think of it——?”
“Faithfully, I didn’t. I only felt your heart was too full up with Aunt Lila and India to have room enough for me. And I wanted all the room—or nothing. Vaguely, I knew it was her dream. But my wicked pride insisted it should be your dream. It wasn’t till long after, that Mother told me how—from the very first—Aunt Lila had planned and prayed, because she knew marriage might be your one big difficulty; and she could only speak of it to Mummy. It was their great link; the idea behind everything—the lessons and all. So you see, all the time, she was sort of creating me ... for you. And the bitter disappointment it must have been to her! If I’d had a glimmering ... of all that—I don’t believe I could have held out against you——”
“Then I wish to heaven you’d had a glimmering—because of her and because of us. Look at all the good years we’ve wasted——”
“We’ve not—we’ve not!” she protested vehemently. “If it had happened then, it wouldn’t have come within miles—of this. You simply hadn’t it in you, Roy, to give me ... all I can feel you giving me now. As for me—well, that’s for you to find out! Of course, the minute I’d done it, I was miserable: furious with myself. For I couldn’t stop ... loving you. My heart had no shame, in spite of my important pride. Only ... after she went—and Mother told me all—something in me seemed to know her free spirit would be near you—and bring you back to me ... somehow: till ... your news came. And—look! The Bracelet! I hesitated a long time. If you hadn’t been engaged, I’m not sure if I would have ventured. But I did—and you’re here. It’s all been her doing, Roy, first and last. Don’t let’s spoil any of it with regrets.”
He could only bow his head upon her hand in mute adoration. The courage, the crystal-clear wisdom of her—his eager Tara, who could never wait five minutes for the particular sweet or the particular tale she craved. Yet she had waited five years for him—and counted it a little thing. Of a truth his mother had builded better than she knew.