The touch of her hands stirred him all through. The question in her eyes probed deep.
“Honest answer, Mummy—I’m blest if I know,” he said slowly. “I don’t think I’ve ever been so near it before; beyond thrills at dances ... and all that. She somehow churned me up just now and made me want her tremendously. But I truly hadn’t thought of it—that way, before. And—I did feel it might ease you and Dad about ... the other thing, if I went out fixed up.”
She drew his head to her and kissed him, then let her hands fall in her lap. “Wonderful Sonling! Indeed it would ease me and please me—if coming from the true motive. Only remember, so long as you are thinking first of me, you can be sure That Other has not yet arrived.”
“But I shall always think first of you,” he declared, catching at her hands. “There’s no one like you. There never will be.”
“No—not like, but different—in clearness and nearness. Love is one big impulse, but many forms. Like white light made from many colours. No rival for me, That Other; but daughter-in-law—best gift a son can bring to his father’s house. Just now there is room inside you only for one big thing—India.”
“But I am India.”
“Sublimated essence of it, according to Jeffers.”
“Jeffers says many foolish things!” But she did not disguise her pleasure.
“I’ve noticed occasional flashes of wisdom!—But, I say, Motherling, what price tea?”
“Tea?” She feigned exaggerated surprise. “I thought you were much too far in the clouds!”
“On the contrary. I’m simply famished!”
And forthwith he fell upon a plate of sugar cakes; while she rang for the fresh teapot, so often in requisition for ‘Mr Roy.’
“Comfort, content, delight, the ages’ slow-bought gain,
They shrivelled in a night. Only ourselves remain
To face the naked days in silent fortitude.
Through perils and dismays renewed and re-renewed.”
Nevil was up in town on business; not returning till next day. The papers were seething with rumours; but the majority of everyday people, immersed in their all-important affairs, continued cheerfully to hope against hope. Sir Nevil Sinclair was not of these; but he kept his worst qualms to himself. Neither his wife nor his son were keen newspaper readers; which, in his opinion, was just as well.