“My dear old boy, you shall not chuck it,” he said with smiling decision. “I’ve never believed in the older generation being a drag on the wheel. And now it’s my turn, I must play up. What’s life worth without a spice of risk? I took my own—a big one—family or no——”
He broke off—and Roy filled the gap. “You mean—marrying Mother?”
“Yes—just that,” he admitted frankly. “The greatest bit of luck in my life. She shared the risk—a bigger one for her. And I’m damned if we’ll cheat you of yours. There’s a hidden key somewhere that most of us have to find. Yours may be in India—who knows?”
He spoke rapidly, as if anxious to convince himself no less than the boy. And he had his reward.
“Dad—you’re simply stunning—you two,” Roy said quietly, but with clear conviction.
At that moment the purring of the gong vibrated through the house, and he slipped a hand through his father’s arm. “That reminds me—I’m starving hungry! If they’re still out, let’s be bold, and propitiate the teapot on our own!”
Lady Roscoe was, after all, a benefactor in her own despite. Her meteoric visitation had drawn these two closer together than they had been since schoolroom days.
“Ce que nous quittons
c’est une partie de nous meme. II faut mourir
a une vie, pour entrer dans une autre.”—ANATOLE FRANCE.
After all, human perversity decreed it should be Roy himself who shrank most acutely from the wrench of parting, when it loomed near enough to bring him down from Pisgah heights to the dust of the actual.
Dyan was overjoyed, of course, and untroubled by qualms. Towards the end of July, he and Aruna came for a brief visit. His excuses for its brevity struck Roy as a trifle ‘thin’; but Dyan kept his secret and paid Tara Despard the compliment of taking her answer as final.
It was during his visit that Roy suffered the first incipient qualms; the first sharp contact with practical details:—date of sailing, details of outfit, the need for engaging a passage betimes. As regards his destination, matters were simplified by the fact that the new Resident of Jaipur, Colonel Vincent Leigh, C.S.I., D.S.O., very considerately happened to be the husband of Desmond’s delightful sister Thea. The schoolboy link between Lance and Roy had created a lasting friendship between their respective families; and it was General Sir Theo Desmond—now retired—who had invited Roy, in the name of his ‘Twin,’ to start with an unlimited visit to the Leighs; the sort of casual elastic visit that no one would dream of proposing outside India,—unless it were Ireland, of an earlier, happier day. The prospect was a secret consolation to Roy. It was also a secret jar to find he needed every ounce of consolation available.