The car started off. Lady Alice looked at her companion and shook her head.
“Mr. Tallente,” she said, “I am very much a woman of the world and Jane is a very much stronger person than I am, in some things, and a great baby in others. You and she were such friends and I have an idea that there was a misunderstanding.”
“There was,” he groaned. “It was my fault.”
“Never mind whose fault it was,” she went on. “You two were made for each other. You have so much in common. Don’t drift apart altogether, just because one has expected too much, or the other been content to give too little. Jane has a great soul and a great heart. She wants to give but she doesn’t quite know how. And perhaps there isn’t any way. But two people whose lives seem to radiate towards each other, as yours and hers, shouldn’t remain wholly apart. Take a day or two’s holiday soon, even from this great work of yours, and go down to Devonshire. It would be very dangerous advice,” she went on, smiling, “to a different sort of man, but I have a fancy that to you it may mean something, and I happen to know—that Jane is miserable.”
The car stopped. Tallente held Lady Alice’s hand as he had seldom held the hand of a woman in his life. A curious incapacity for speech checked the words even upon his lips.
“Thank you,” he faltered.
Upon the moor above Martinhoe and the farm lands adjoining, spring had fallen that year as gently as the warm rain of April. Tallente, conscious of an unexpected lassitude, paused as he reached the top of the zigzag climb from the Manor and rested for a moment upon a block of stone. Below him, the forests of dwarf oaks which stretched down to the sea were tipped with delicate green. The meadows were like deep soft patches of emerald verdure; the fruit trees in his small walled garden were pink and white with blossoms. The sea was peaceful as an azure lake into which the hulls of the passing steamers cut like knives, leaving behind a long line of lazy foam. Little fleecy balls of cloud were dotted across the sky, puffs of soft wind cooled his cheeks when he rose to his feet and faced inland.
Soon he left the stony road and walked upon the springy turf bordering the moorland. Little curled-up shoots of light green were springing from the bracken. Here and there, a flame of gorse filled the air with its faint, almond-like blossom. And the birds! Farmlands stretched away on his left-hand side, and above the tender growth of corn, larks invisible but multifarious filled the air with little quiverings of melody. Bleatng lambs, ridiculously young, tottered around on this new-found, wonderful earth. A pair of partridges scurried away from his feet; the end of a drooping cloud splashed his face with a few warm raindrops.