Standing there, in full sunlight—the modelling of his young limbs veiled, yet not hidden, by his silk night-suit; the carriage of head and shoulders betraying innate pride of race—he looked, on every count, no unworthy heir to the House of Sinclair and its simple honourable traditions: one that might conceivably live to challenge family prejudices and qualms. The thick dark hair, ruffled from sleep, was his mother’s; and hers the semi-opaque ivory tint of his skin. The clean-cut forehead and nose, the blue-grey eyes, with the lurking smile in them, were Nevil Sinclair’s own. In him, at least, it would seem that love was justified of her children.
But of family features, as of family qualms, he was, as yet, radiantly unaware. Snatching his towel, he scampered barefoot down the passage to the nursery bathroom, where the tap was already running.
Fifteen minutes later, dressed, but hatless and still barefoot, he was racing over the vast dew-drenched lawn, leaving a trail of grey-green smudges on its silvered surface, chanting the opening lines of Shelley’s ‘Cloud’ to breakfast-hunting birds.
Those shadowy recollections,...
Are yet the fountain-light of all our day;
Are yet the master-light of all our seeing.”
The blue rug under Roy’s beech-tree was splashed with freckles of sunshine; freckles that were never still, because a fussy little wind kept swaying the top-most branches, where the youngest beech-leaves flickered, like golden-green butterflies bewitched by some malicious fairy, so that they could never fly into the sky till summer was over, and all the leaf butterflies in the world would be free to scamper with the wind.
That was Roy’s foolish fancy as he lay full length, to the obvious detriment of his moral backbone—chin cupped in the hollow of his hands. Close beside him lay Prince, his golden retriever; so close that he could feel the dog’s warm body through his thin shirt. At the foot of the tree, in a nest of pale cushions, sat his mother, in her apple-blossom sari and a silk dress like the lining of a shell. No jewels in the morning, except the star that fastened her sari on one shoulder and a slender gold bangle—never removed—the wedding-ring of her own land. The boy, mutely adoring, could, in some dim way, feel the harmony of those pale tones with the olive skin, faintly aglow, and the delicate arch of her eyebrows poised like outspread wings above the brown, limpid depths of her eyes. He could not tell that she was still little more than a girl; barely eight-and-twenty. For him she was ageless:—protector and playfellow, essence of all that was most real, yet most magical, in the home that was his world. Unknown to him, the Eastern mother in her was evoking, already, the Eastern spirit of worship in her son.