After all, the mother had a second string to her bow, so the edict went forth that Beatrice was to be allowed to be happy in her own way, and the shadow of that fatal sunshade was no longer to be suffered to blacken the moral horizon of her father’s soul.
BY THE VICARAGE GATE.
Before our lives divide for ever,
While time is with us and hands are free,
(Time swift to fasten, and swift to sever
Hand from hand....)
I will say no word that a man might say
Whose whole life’s love goes down in a day;
For this could never have been. And never
(Though the gods and the years relent) shall be.
The peacocks had it all to themselves on the terrace walk at Kynaston. They strutted up and down, craning and bridling their bright-hued necks with a proud consciousness of absolute proprietorship in the place, and their long tails trailed across the gravel behind them with the soft rustle of a woman’s garments. Now and then their sad, shrill cries echoed weirdly through the deserted gardens.
There was no one to see them—the gardeners had all gone home—and no one was moving from the house. Only one small boy, with a rough head and a red face, stood below the stone balustrade, half-hidden among the hollyhocks and the roses, looking wistfully up at the windows of the house.
“What am I to do with it?” said Tommy Daintree, half-aloud to himself, and looked sorely perplexed and bewildered.
Tommy had a commission to fulfil, a commission from Vera. He carried a little note in his hands, and he had promised Vera faithfully that he would wait near the house till he saw Captain Kynaston come in from his day’s shooting, and give him the note into his own hands.
“You quite understand, Tommy; no one else.”
“Yes, auntie, I quite understand.”
And Tommy had been waiting there an hour, but still there was no sign of Captain Kynaston’s return; he was getting very tired and very hungry by this time, for he had had no tea. He had heard the dressing-bell ring long ago in the house—it must be close upon their dinner hour. Tommy could not guess that, by an unaccustomed chance, the master of the house had gone in by the back-door to-day, and that he had been in some time.
Presently some one pushed aside the long muslin curtains, and came stepping out of the long French window on to the terrace. It was Helen.
She was dressed for dinner; she wore a pale blue dress, cut open at the neck, a string of pearls and a jewelled locket hung at her throat; she turned round, half laughing, to some one who was following her.
“You will see all the county magnates at Shadonake to-morrow. You will have quite enough of them, I promise you; they are neither lively nor entertaining.”