“Yes.... It is so—difficult—it makes me wretchedly weak.... I only thought he might help me.... You are right, Kathleen.... I must be terribly demoralised to have wished it. I—I will not marry him, now. I don’t think I ever will.... You are right. I have got to be fair to him, no matter what he has been to me.... He has been fearfully unfair. After all, he is only a man.... I couldn’t really love a god.”
AMBITIONS AND LETTERS
Rosalie had departed; Grandcourt followed suit next day; Sylvia’s brother, Stuyvesant, had at last found a sober moment at his disposal and had appeared at Roya-Neh and taken his sister away. Duane was all ready to go to New York to find out whether his father was worrying over anything, as the tone of his letters indicated.
The day he left, Kathleen and Geraldine started on a round of August house parties, ranging from Lenox to Long Island, including tiresome week ends and duty visits to some very unpretentious but highly intellectual relatives of Mrs. Severn. So Scott remained in solitary possession of Roya-Neh, with its forests, gardens, pastures, lakes and streams, and a staggering payroll and all the multiplicity of problems that such responsibility entails. Which pleased him immensely, except for the departure of Kathleen.
To play the intellectual country squire had been all he desired on earth except Kathleen. From the beginning White’s “Selborne” had remained his model for all books, Kathleen for all women. He was satisfied with these two components of perfect happiness, and with himself, as he was, for the third ingredient in a contented and symmetrical existence.
He had accepted his answer from her with more philosophy than she quite expected or was prepared for, saying that if she made a particular point of it he would go about next winter and give himself a chance to meet as many desirable young girls as she thought best; that it was merely wasting time, but if it made her any happier, he’d wait and endeavour to return to their relations of unsentimental comradeship until she was satisfied he knew his mind.
Kathleen was, at first, a little dismayed at his complacency. It was only certainty of himself. At twenty-two there is time for anything, and the vista of life ahead is endless. And there was one thing more which Kathleen did not know. Under the covering of this Seagrave complacency and self-centred sufficiency, all alone by itself was developing the sprouting germ of consideration for others.
How it started he himself did not know—nor was he even aware that it had started. But long, solitary rambles and the quiet contemplation of other things besides himself had awakened first curiosity, then a dawning suspicion of the rights of others.
In the silence of forests it is difficult to preserve complacency; under the stars modesty is born.