“The bow saith to the arrow,
‘Thy freedom is mine.’”
And while Lilamani reasoned with the son—whose twofold nature they had themselves bestowed and inspired—Nevil was pacing his shrine of all the harmonies, heart and brain disturbed, as they had not been for years.
Out of the troubled waters of family friction and delicate adjustments, this adventurous pair had slid into a haven of peace and mutual understanding. And now behold, fresh portent of trouble arising from the dual strain in Roy—the focal point of their life and love.
Turning in his stride, his eye encountered a head and shoulders portrait of his father, Sir George Sinclair: an honest, bluff, unimaginative face: yet suddenly, arrestingly, it commanded his attention. Checking his walk, he stood regarding it: and his heart went out to the kindly old man in a quite unusual wave of sympathetic understanding. He saw himself—the “damned unsatisfactory son,” Bohemian and dilettante, frankly at odds with the Sinclair tradition—now standing, more or less, in that father’s shoes; his heart centred on the old place and on the boy for whom he held it in trust; and the irony of it twisted his lips into a rueful smile. By his own over-concentration on Roy, and his secret dread of the Indian obsession, he could gauge what his own father must have suffered in an aggravated form, blind as he was to any point of view save his own. And there was Roy—like himself in the twenties, but how much more purposeful!—drawn irresistibly by the lure of the horizon; a lure bristling with dangers the more insidious because they sprang from the blood in his veins.
Yet a word of warning, spoken at the wrong moment, in the wrong tone, might be disastrously misunderstood; and the distracting sense of being purely responsible for his own trouble, stung him to renewed irritation. All capacity for work had been dispelled by that vexatiously engaging son of his, with his heart in India and his head among the stars....
Weary of pacing, he took out his pipe and sat down in the window-seat to fill it. He was interrupted by the sound of an unmistakable footstep; and the response of his whole being justified to admiration Lilamani’s assurance that his hidden trouble implied no lightest reflection on herself. Lilamani and irritation simply could not co-exist within him; and he was on his feet when she opened the door.
She did not come forward at once. Pushing it shut with both hands, she stood so—a hovering question in her eyes. It recalled, with a tender pang, the earlier days of worshipful aloofness, when only by special invitation would she intimately approach her lord.
That she might guess his thought he held out his arms. “Come along—English wife!”
It had been their private password. But her small teeth imprisoned her lip.