The young man’s face was very red; he was forgetting to hide it now. Then it went white, and he said through clenched teeth: “She sends me mad! I don’t know how not to—If I don’t get her, I shall shoot myself. I shall, you know—I’m that sort. It’s her eyes. They draw you right out of yourself—and leave you—” And from his gloved hand the smoked-out cigarette-end fell to the floor. “They say her mother was like that. Poor old Johnny! D’you think I’ve got a chance, Mr. Lennan? I don’t mean now, this minute; I know she’s too young.”
Lennan forced himself to answer.
“I dare say, my dear fellow, I dare say. Have you talked with my wife?”
Oliver shook his head.
“She’s so good—I don’t think she’d quite understand my sort of feeling.”
A queer little smile came up on Lennan’s lips.
“Ah, well!” he said, “you must give the child time. Perhaps when she comes back from Ireland, after the summer.”
The young man answered moodily:
“Yes. I’ve got the run of that, you know. And I shan’t be able to keep away.” He took up his hat. “I suppose I oughtn’t to have come and bored you about this, but Nell thinks such a lot of you; and, you being different to most people—I thought you wouldn’t mind.” He turned again at the door. “It wasn’t gas what I said just now—about not getting her. Fellows say that sort of thing, but I mean it.”
He put on that shining hat and went.
And Lennan stood, staring at the statuette. So! Passion broke down even the defences of Dromoredom. Passion! Strange hearts it chose to bloom in!
‘Being different to most people—I thought you wouldn’t mind’! How had this youth known that Sylvia would not understand passion so out of hand as this? And what had made it clear that he (Lennan) would? Was there, then, something in his face? There must be! Even Johnny Dromore—most reticent of creatures—had confided to him that one hour of his astute existence, when the wind had swept him out to sea!
Yes! And that statuette would never be any good, try as he might. Oliver was right—it was her eyes! How they had smoked—in their childish anger—if eyes could be said to smoke, and how they had drawn and pleaded when she put her face to his in her still more childish entreaty! If they were like this now, what would they be when the woman in her woke? Just as well not to think of her too much! Just as well to work, and take heed that he would soon be forty-seven! Just as well that next week she would be gone to Ireland!