“I chose the softest, Father.”
“H’m!” said Soames; “I only use those after a cold. Never mind!”
That evening passed for Fleur in putting two and two together; recalling the look on her father’s face in the confectioner’s shop—a look strange and coldly intimate, a queer look. He must have loved that woman very much to have kept her photograph all this time, in spite of having lost her. Unsparing and matter-of-fact, her mind darted to his relations with her own mother. Had he ever really loved her? She thought not. Jon was the son of the woman he had really loved. Surely, then, he ought not to mind his daughter loving him; it only wanted getting used to. And a sigh of sheer relief was caught in the folds of her nightgown slipping over her head.
Youth only recognises Age by fits and starts. Jon, for one, had never really seen his father’s age till he came back from Spain. The face of the fourth Jolyon, worn by waiting, gave him quite a shock—it looked so wan and old. His father’s mask had been forced awry by the emotion of the meeting, so that the boy suddenly realised how much he must have felt their absence. He summoned to his aid the thought: ’Well, I didn’t want to go!’ It was out of date for Youth to defer to Age. But Jon was by no means typically modern. His father had always been “so jolly” to him, and to feel that one meant to begin again at once the conduct which his father had suffered six weeks’ loneliness to cure was not agreeable.
At the question, “Well, old man, how did the great Goya strike you?” his conscience pricked him badly. The great Goya only existed because he had created a face which resembled Fleur’s.
On the night of their return, he went to bed full of compunction; but awoke full of anticipation. It was only the fifth of July, and no meeting was fixed with Fleur until the ninth. He was to have three days at home before going back to farm. Somehow he must contrive to see her!