“But—well, I am sorry I was such a beast. Can you endure seeing me once in a long time—say once a month? It—it may make life possible to me—don’t say that you don’t see the necessity for that! Brigit——”
“But it is so useless, Gerald, and so painful——”
“No. And I can tell you all kind of things about people—you must be lonely! Tommy is only a kid after all, and doesn’t hear—By the way, why does he never come here?”
She hesitated. “Do you really not know?” Then, seeing sincerity in his eyes, she went on. “Well—Joyselle made me promise mother that.”
“Yes. He—you see he is old-fashioned. And—well, in two words he said that unless I promised he—he—would not teach Tommy or even see him!”
Carron whistled. “Well, I’ll be damned!”
“Yes. Absurd, wasn’t it? But—Oh, well, there’s no use in explaining.”
As she spoke she heard the introductory scraping at the keyhole again, and a moment later Tommy came in.
A remarkably dandified Tommy; a solemn and significant Tommy, who shook hands solemnly with his sister and Carron and then sat down and took off his gloves.
“I have come on business, Brigit,” he announced quietly.
Carron rose. “Then I will go. Thanks very much, Brigit, for your hospitality—and I will look in again in three or four weeks, if you don’t mind.”
Tommy’s frame of mind was too dignified to permit of his staring, but he was obviously surprised at Carron’s presence, and when the man had gone he said with considerable importance: “Since when has Carron been calling on you?”
“This is the first time. Oh, Tommy—should you have come?”
“I have just left mother at Aunt Emily’s,” he answered, his voice explaining plainly what his dignity forbade his putting into words.
So her mother knew!
“New clothes; also gloves; also something smelly and very nice on your hair!”
Brigit bent over and kissed him tenderly, her face very sweet with affection. “Please elucidate, little brother. Has mother sent you?”
“No. She knows I have come, though.”
“If you please.”
So she lit the kettle and going to a cupboard produced two enchanting-looking white jars. “Marmalade or cherry jam?”
“I think—neither, please,” returned Kingsmead, with an effort. “I—am not hungry.”
It was all very mysterious, and Brigit, scanning the little boy’s face, saw that he was nervous as well as important; pale as well as elegant in attire. So she made the tea and gave him a cup in silence.
After a long pause he cleared his throat and began. “Brigit, of course I’m only a kid—and all that sort of thing.”
“And you are grown up, and have a great deal more—well, experience than I. And then you are very beautiful, and I am—not,” he added with a flicker of irrepressible mirth that was immediately quenched.