“I’m not. It would be ripping.”
“Good. We’ll hang together, eh? Because of India; because we both belong—in a different way. And we’ll stick up for that miserable little devil Chandranath.”
“Yes—we will.” (The glory of that ‘we.’) “All the same,—I don’t much like the look of him”
“No more don’t I. He’s the wrong ‘jat.’ He won’t stay long—you’ll see. But still—he shan’t be bullied by Scabs, because he’s not the same colour outside. You see that sort of thing in India too. My father’s fearfully down on it, because it makes more bad blood than anything; I’ve heard him say that it’s just the blighters who buck about the superior race who do all the damage with their inferior manners. Rather neat—eh?”
Roy glowed. “Your father must be a splendid sort. Is he a soldier?”
“Rath_er_! He’s a V.C. He got it saving a Jemadar—a Native Officer.”
Roy caught his breath.
“I would awfully like to hear how——”
Desmond told him how....
It was a wonderful walk. By the end of it Roy no longer felt a lonely atom in a strange world. He had found something better than his Sanctuary—he had found a friend.
Looking back, long afterwards, he recognised that Sunday as the turning-point....
Later in the evening he poured it all out to his mother in four closely-written sheets.
But not a word about herself, or Desmond’s friendly warning, which still puzzled him. He worried over it a little before he fell asleep. It was the very first hint—given, in all friendliness—that the mere fact of having an Indian mother might go against you, in some people’s eyes. Not the right ones, of course; but still—in the nature of things,—he couldn’t make it out. That would come later.
At the time its only effect was to deepen his private satisfaction at having hammered Joe Bradley; to quicken his attitude of championship towards his mother and towards India, till ultimately the glow of his fervent devotion fused them both into one dominant idea.
“He it is—the
innermost one who awakens my being with his deep
Lilamani read and re-read that letter curled among her cushions in the deep window-seat of the studio, a tower room with tall windows looking north, over jagged pine tops, to the open moor.
And while she read, Nevil stood at his easel, seizing and recording, the unconscious grace of her pose, the rapt stillness of her face. He was never weary of painting her—never quite satisfied with the result; always within an ace of achieving the one perfect picture that should immortalise a gleam from her inner uncaptured loveliness—the essence of personality that eternally foils the sense, while it sways the spirit. Impossible, of course. One might as well try and catch the fragrance of a rose, the bloom of an April dawn, or any other fragment of the world’s unseizable beauty But there remained the joy of pursuing—and pursuing, not achieving, is the salt of life.