“The rest of us? Well, she isn’t.”
It appeared that Becky’s fortune came from the Nantucket grandmother, and that there would be more when the Admiral died. It was really a very large fortune, well invested, and yielding an amazing income. One of the clauses of the grandmother’s will had to do with the bringing up of Becky. Until she was of age she was to be kept as much as possible away from the distractions and temptations of modern luxury. The Judge and the Admiral had agreed that nothing could be better. The result, Randy said, was that nobody ever thought of Becky Bannister as rich.
“Yet those pearls that she wears are worth more than I ever expect to earn.”
“It is rather like a fairy tale. The beggar-maid becomes a queen.”
“You can see now why I can’t offer her just youth and a fighting spirit.”
“I wonder if Dalton knows.”
“I don’t believe he does,” Randy said slowly. “I give him credit for that.”
“He might have heard——”
“I doubt it. He hasn’t mingled much, you know.”
“It will be rather a joke on him——”
“To find that he has married—Mademoiselle Midas?”
“To find that she is Mademoiselle Midas, whether he marries her or not.”
Of course Georgie-Porgie ran away. It was the inevitable climax. Flora’s illness hastened things a bit.
“She wants to see her New York doctors,” Waterman had said. “I think we shall close the house, and join Madge later at the Crossing.”
George felt an unexpected sense of shock. The game must end, yet he wanted it to go on. The cards were in his hands, and he was not quite ready to turn the trick.
“When do we go?” he asked Oscar.
“In a couple of days if we can manage it. Flora is getting worried about herself. She thinks it is her heart.”
George rode all of that afternoon with Becky. But not a word did he say about his departure. He never spoiled a thing like this with “Good-bye.” Back at Waterman’s, Kemp was packing trunks. In forty-eight hours there would be the folding of tents, and Hamilton Hill would be deserted. It added a pensiveness to his manner that made him more than ever charming. It rained on the way home, and it seemed to him significant that his first ride and his last with Becky should have been in the rain.
He stayed to dinner, and afterwards he and Becky walked together in the fragrance of the wet garden. A new moon hung low for a while and was then lost behind the hills.
“My little girl,” George said when the moment came that he must go, “My dear little girl.” He gathered her up in his arms—but did not kiss her. For once in his life, Georgie-Porgie was too deeply moved for kisses.
After he had gone, Becky went into the Bird Room, and stood on the hearth and looked up at the Trumpeter Swan. There was no one to whom she could speak of the ecstasy which surged through her. As a child she had brought her joys here, and her sorrows—her Christmas presents in the early morning—the first flowers of the spring. She had sat here often in her little black frock and had felt the silent sympathy of the wise old bird.