“And shall I go there too?”
Humility glanced up quickly, and met her husband’s eyes.
“Some day, please God!” she said. Mr. Raymond stared at the embers of wreck-wood on the hearth.
From that night Oxford became the main scene of Taffy’s imaginings; a wholly fictitious Oxford, pieced together of odds and ends from picture-books, and peopled with all the old heroes. And so, with contests on the models of the Fifth Aeneid, the story went forward gallantly for many months.
But the afternoons were long; and at times the interminable sand-hills and everlasting roar of the sea oppressed the child with a sense of loneliness beyond words. The rabbits and gulls would not make friends with him, and he ached for companionship. Of that ache was born his half-crazy adoration of George Vyell. There were hours when he lay in some nook of the towans, peering into the ground, seeing pictures in the sand—pictures of men and regiments and battles, shifting with the restless drift; until, unable to bear it, he flung out his hands to efface them, and hid his face in the sand, sobbing, “George! George!”
At night he would creep out of bed to watch the lighthouse winking away in the north-east. George lived somewhere beyond. And again it would be “George! George!”
And when the happy mornings came, and George with them, Taffy was as shy as a lover. So George never guessed. It might have surprised that very careless young gentleman, when he looked up from his verbs which govern the dative, and caught Taffy’s eye, could he have seen himself in his halo there.
THE SQUIRE’S SOUL.
Two years passed, and a third winter. The church was now well on its way to restoration. The roof had been repaired, the defective timbers removed and sound ones inserted, the south wall strengthened with three buttresses, the foundations on that side examined and shored up. The old Squire did not halt here. Furniture arrived for the interior; a handsome altar cloth, a small gilt cross, a dozen hanging lamps, an oaken lectern, cushions, hymn-books, a big new Bible with purple book-markers. He promised to take out the east window—which was just a patchwork of common glass, like a cucumber frame—and replace it with sound mullions and stained glass, in memory of his only daughter, Honoria’s mother. She had run away from Tredinnis House, and married a penniless captain; and Honoria’s surname was Callastair, though nobody uttered it in the old man’s hearing. Husband and wife had died in India, of cholera, within three years of their marriage; and the old man had sent for the child. Having relented so far, he went on to do it thoroughly, in his own fashion. He neglected Honoria; but she might have anything she wanted for the asking. It seemed, though, that she wanted very little.