The note ended by saying boldly that King would like another sketch sometime, and he even ventured to suggest that he would enjoy seeing a picture of that row of white lilac trees at the edge of the garden where Anne used to play. It was two days before he got this, and meanwhile a box of water colours had come into requisition. When the sheet of heavy paper came to King he lay looking at it with eyes which sparkled.
At first sight it was just a blur of blues and greens, with irregular patches of white, and gay tiny dashes of strong colour, pinks and purples and yellows. But when, as Anne had bidden him, he held it at arm’s length he saw it all—the garden with its box-bordered beds full of tall yellow tulips and pink and white and purple hyacinths—it was easy to see that this was what they were, even from the dots and dashes of colour; the hedge—it was a real hedge of white lilac trees, against a spring sky all scudding clouds of gray. Like the sketch of Franz, its charm lay entirely in suggestion, not in detail, but was none the less real for that.
There was one thing which, to King’s observant eyes, stood out plainly from the little wash drawing. This garden was a garden of the rich, not of the poor. Just how he knew it so well he could hardly have told, after all, for there was no hint of house, or wall, or even summer-house, sundial, terrace, or other significant sign. Yet it was there, and he doubted if Anne Linton knew it was there, or meant to have it so. Perhaps it was that lilac hedge which seemed to show so plainly the hand of a gardener in the planting and tending. The question was—was it her own garden in which she had played, or the garden of her father’s employer? Had her father been that gardener, perchance? King instantly rejected this possibility.
Burns, coming in to see King one day when the exchange of letters had been going on for nearly a fortnight, announced that he might soon be moved to his own home.
King stared at him. “I’m not absolutely certain that I want to go till I can get about on my own feet,” he said slowly.
Burns nodded. “I know, but that will be some time yet, and your mother—well, I’ve put her off as long as I could, but without lying to her I can’t say it would hurt you now to be taken home. And lying’s not my long suit.”
“Of course not. And I suppose I ought to go; it would be a comfort to my mother. But—”
He set his lips and gave no further hint of his unwillingness to go where he would be at the mercy of the maternal fondness which would overwhelm him with the attentions he did not want. Besides—there was another reason why, since he must for the present be confined somewhere, he was loath to leave the friendly walls where there was now so much of interest happening every day. Could he keep it happening at home? Not without much difficulty, as he well foresaw.