’Yes; but someone who will always be with you, to do everything for you; to be your very own.’
‘It is all very well for you,’ said Lily, ’and I think that Bernard is the luckiest fellow in the world; but it will not do for me. I know in what college I’ll take my degree, and I wish they’d let me write the letters after my name as the men do.’
‘What letters, Lily?’
’O M, for Old Maid. I don’t see why it shouldn’t be as good as Ba for Bachelor of Arts. It would mean a great deal more.’
THE SHATTERED TREE
When Mrs Arabin saw Johnny in the middle of the day, she could hardly give him much encouragement. And yet she felt by no means sure that he might not succeed even yet. Lily had been very positive in her answers, and yet there had been something either in her words or in the tone of her voice, which had made Mrs Arabin feel that even Lily was not quite sure of herself. There was still room for relenting. Nothing, however, had been said which could justify her in bidding John Eames simply to ‘go and win’. ‘I think he is light of heart,’ Lily had said. Those were the words which, of all that had been spoken, most impressed themselves on Mrs Arabin’s memory. She would not repeat them to her friend, but she would graft upon them such advice as she had to give him.
And this she did, telling him that she thought perhaps Lily doubted his actual earnestness. ‘I would marry her this moment,’ said Johnny. But that was not enough, as Mrs Arabin knew, to prove his earnestness. Many men, fickle as weathercocks, are ready to marry at the moment—are ready to marry at the moment, because they are fickle, and think so little about it. ‘But she hears, perhaps, of your liking other people,’ said Mrs Arabin. ‘I don’t care a straw for any other person,’ said Johnny. ’I wonder whether if I was to shut myself up in a cage for six months, it would do any good?’ ’If she had the keeping of the cage, perhaps it might,’ said Mrs Arabin. She had nothing more to say on that subject, but to tell him that Miss Dale would expect him that afternoon at half-past five. ’I told her that you would come to wish her good-bye, and she promised to see you.’
’I wish she’d say she wouldn’t see me. Then there would be some chance.’
Between him and Mrs Arabin, the parting was very affectionate. She told him how thankful she was for the kindness in coming to her, and how grateful she would ever be—and the dean also—for his attention to her. ’Remember, Mr Eames, that you will always be most welcome at the Deanery of Barchester. And I do hope that before long you may be there with your wife.’ And so they parted.