The Freelands eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 295 pages of information about The Freelands.

CHAPTER XXXIII

Peremptorily ordered by the doctor to the sea, but with instructions to avoid for the present all excitement, sunlight, and color, Derek and his grandmother repaired to a spot well known to be gray, and Nedda went home to Hampstead.  This was the last week in July.  A fortnight spent in the perfect vacuity of an English watering-place restored the boy wonderfully.  No one could be better trusted than Frances Freeland to preserve him from looking on the dark side of anything, more specially when that thing was already not quite nice.  Their conversation was therefore free from allusion to the laborers, the strike, or Bob Tryst.  And Derek thought the more.  The approaching trial was hardly ever out of his mind.  Bathing, he would think of it; sitting on the gray jetty looking over the gray sea, he would think of it.  Up the gray cobbled streets and away on the headlands, he would think of it.  And, so as not to have to think of it, he would try to walk himself to a standstill.  Unfortunately the head will continue working when the legs are at rest.  And when he sat opposite to her at meal-times, Frances Freeland would gaze piercingly at his forehead and muse:  ’The dear boy looks much better, but he’s getting a little line between his brows—­it is such a pity!’ It worried her, too, that the face he was putting on their little holiday together was not quite as full as she could have wished—­though the last thing in the world she could tolerate were really fat cheeks, those signs of all that her stoicism abhorred, those truly unforgivable marks of the loss of ‘form.’  He struck her as dreadfully silent, too, and she would rack her brains for subjects that would interest him, often saying to herself:  ‘If only I were clever!’ It was natural he should think of dear Nedda, but surely it was not that which gave him the little line.  He must be brooding about those other things.  He ought not to be melancholy like this and let anything prevent the sea from doing him good.  The habit—­hard-learned by the old, and especially the old of her particular sex—­of not wishing for the moon, or at all events of not letting others know that you are wishing for it, had long enabled Frances Freeland to talk cheerfully on the most indifferent subjects whether or no her heart were aching.  One’s heart often did ache, of course, but it simply didn’t do to let it interfere, making things uncomfortable for others.  And once she said to him:  “You know, darling, I think it would be so nice for you to take a little interest in politics.  They’re very absorbing when you once get into them.  I find my paper most enthralling.  And it really has very good principles.”

“If politics did anything for those who most need things done, Granny—­but I can’t see that they do.”

She thought a little, then, making firm her lips, said: 

“I don’t think that’s quite just, darling, there are a great many politicians who are very much looked up to—­all the bishops, for instance, and others whom nobody could suspect of self-seeking.”

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Project Gutenberg
The Freelands from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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