She came in again, and sat down in a low basket-chair by the window, and thought how wise she had been to settle herself down in the old house with its velvet lawns and its wide shadowy trees, instead of in the heat and turmoil of a London home.
She looked a little anxious and worried to-day—she was not happy about her eldest son—somebody had told her last night that he was talking about going to Australia, and turning sheep farmer. Lady Kynaston was annoyed at the report; it did not strike her as seemly or right that the head of the Kynaston family should become a sheep farmer. Moreover, she knew very well that he only wanted to get himself away out of the country where no one would know of his story, or remind him of his trouble again. The man’s heart was broken. He did not want to farm sheep, or to take to any other rational or healthful employment; he only wanted, like a sick animal, to creep away and hide his hurt. Little as Lady Kynaston had in common with her eldest son, she was sorry for him. She would have done what she could to help him had she known how. She had written to him only yesterday, begging him to come to her, but he had not replied to her letter.
The Cloverdales’ ball had come and gone, and Lady Kynaston had taken pains to ensure that an invitation might be sent to Mrs. Hazeldine and Miss Nevill. She had also put herself to some inconvenience in order to be present at it herself, but all to no purpose—Vera was not there. Perhaps she had had another engagement that evening.
The old lady’s promise to her youngest son was still unfulfilled. She half repented now that she had given him any such promise. What good was she to do by interceding between her son and Miss Nevill? and why was she to lay herself open to the chance of a rebuff from that young lady? It had been a senseless and quixotic idea on Maurice’s part altogether. Young women do not take back a jilted lover because the man’s mother advises them to do so; nor is a broken-off marriage likely to get itself re-settled in consequence of the interference of a third person.
The old lady had taken out her fancy-work, a piece of crewel work such as is the fashion of the day. But she was not fond of work; the leaves of muddy-shaded greens grew but slowly under her fingers, and, truth to say, the occupation bored her. It was artistic, certainly, and it was fashionable; but Lady Kynaston would have been happier over a pair of cross-stitch slippers for her son, or a knitted woollen petticoat for the old woman at her lodge gate. All the same, she took out her crewels and put in a few stitches; but the afternoon was warm, there was a humming of insects in the summer air, a click-clicking from the gardener as he dropped one empty red flower-pot into the other along the edge of the ribbon border, a cawing of rooks from the elms over the wall, a very harmony of soft soothing sounds, just enough to lull worry to rest, not enough to scare drowsiness from one’s brain.