“Qui n’accepte pas le regret, n’accepte pas la vie.”
Nevil’s fears were justified to the full. Lady Roscoe was one of those exasperating people of whom one can predict, almost to a word, a look, what their attitude will be on any given occasion. So Nevil, who shirked a “scene”—above all when conducted by Jane—put off telling her the unwelcome news as long as he dared, without running the dire risk of its reaching her “round the corner.”
Meantime he was fortified and cheered by a letter from Cuthbert Broome—a shrewd, practical letter amounting to a sober confession of faith in Roy the embryo writer, as in Roy the budding man.
“I don’t minimise the risk,” he concluded, with his accustomed frankness (no relation to the engaging candour that dances a war-dance on other people’s toes), “but, on broad lines, I hereby record my conviction that the son of you two and the grandson of Sir Lakshman Singh can be trusted to go far—to keep his head as well as his feet, even in slippery places. He is eager for knowledge, for work along his own lines. If you dam up this strong current, it may find other outlets, possibly less desirable. I came on a jewel the other day. As it’s distinctly applicable, I pass it on.
“’The sole wisdom for man or boy who is haunted with the hovering of unseen wings, with the scent of unseen roses, and the subtle enticement of melodies unheard, is work. If he follow any of these, they vanish. If he work, they will come unsought ...”
“Well, when Roy goes out, I undertake to provide him with work that will keep his brain alert and his pen busy. That’s my proposed contribution to his start in life; and—though I say it!—not to be despised. Tell him I’ll bear down upon the Beeches the first available week-end, and talk both your heads off!—Yours ever, C.B.”
“After that,” was Nevil’s heroic conclusion, “Jane can say what she damn well pleases.”
He broke the news to her forthwith—by post; the usual expedient of those who shirk “scenes.” He furthermore took the precaution to add that the matter was finally settled.
She replied next morning—by wire. “Cannot understand. Coming down at once.”
And, in record time, on the wings of her new travelling car—she came.
As head of the Sinclair clan—in years and worldly wisdom at least—she could do no less. From her point of view, it was Nevil’s clear duty to discourage the Indian strain in the boy, as far as that sentimental, headstrong wife of his would permit. But Nevil’s sense of duty needed constant galvanising, lest it die of inanition. It was her sacred mission in life to galvanise it, especially in the matter of Roy; and no one should ever say she shirked a disagreeable obligation. It may safely be added that no one ever did!