JOLYON FINDS OUT WHERE HE IS
Jolyon stood at the window in Holly’s old night nursery, converted into a studio, not because it had a north light, but for its view over the prospect away to the Grand Stand at Epsom. He shifted to the side window which overlooked the stableyard, and whistled down to the dog Balthasar who lay for ever under the clock tower. The old dog looked up and wagged his tail. ‘Poor old boy!’ thought Jolyon, shifting back to the other window.
He had been restless all this week, since his attempt to prosecute trusteeship, uneasy in his conscience which was ever acute, disturbed in his sense of compassion which was easily excited, and with a queer sensation as if his feeling for beauty had received some definite embodiment. Autumn was getting hold of the old oak-tree, its leaves were browning. Sunshine had been plentiful and hot this summer. As with trees, so with men’s lives! ‘I ought to live long,’ thought Jolyon; ’I’m getting mildewed for want of heat. If I can’t work, I shall be off to Paris.’ But memory of Paris gave him no pleasure. Besides, how could he go? He must stay and see what Soames was going to do. ’I’m her trustee. I can’t leave her unprotected,’ he thought. It had been striking him as curious how very clearly he could still see Irene in her little drawing-room which he had only twice entered. Her beauty must have a sort of poignant harmony! No literal portrait would ever do her justice; the essence of her was—ah I what?... The noise of hoofs called him back to the other window. Holly was riding into the yard on her long-tailed ‘palfrey.’ She looked up and he waved to her. She had been rather silent lately; getting old, he supposed, beginning to want her future, as they all did—youngsters!
Time was certainly the devil! And with the feeling that to waste this swift-travelling commodity was unforgivable folly, he took up his brush. But it was no use; he could not concentrate his eye—besides, the light was going. ‘I’ll go up to town,’ he thought. In the hall a servant met him.
“A lady to see you, sir; Mrs. Heron.”
Extraordinary coincidence! Passing into the picture-gallery, as it was still called, he saw Irene standing over by the window.
She came towards him saying:
“I’ve been trespassing; I came up through the coppice and garden. I always used to come that way to see Uncle Jolyon.”
“You couldn’t trespass here,” replied Jolyon; “history makes that impossible. I was just thinking of you.”
Irene smiled. And it was as if something shone through; not mere spirituality—serener, completer, more alluring.
“History!” she answered; “I once told Uncle Jolyon that love was for ever. Well, it isn’t. Only aversion lasts.”
Jolyon stared at her. Had she got over Bosinney at last?