And then he heard a stir behind him. There they were, coming down the passage from a side door—she in front with her alpenstock and rucksack—smiling. Instinctively he recoiled behind some plants. They passed. Her sunburned face, with its high cheek-bones and its deep-set eyes, looked so happy; smiling, tired, triumphant. Somehow he could not bear it, and when they were gone by he stole out into the wood and threw himself down in shadow, burying his face, and choking back a horrible dry sobbing that would keep rising in his throat.
Next day he was happy; for all the afternoon he lay out in the shade of that same wood at her feet, gazing up through larch-boughs. It was so wonderful, with nobody but Nature near. Nature so alive, and busy, and so big!
Coming down from the hut the day before, he had seen a peak that looked exactly like the figure of a woman with a garment over her head, the biggest statue in the world; from further down it had become the figure of a bearded man, with his arm bent over his eyes. Had she seen it? Had she noticed how all the mountains in moonlight or very early morning took the shape of beasts? What he wanted most in life was to be able to make images of beasts and creatures of all sorts, that were like—that had—that gave out the spirit of—Nature; so that by just looking at them one could have all those jolly feelings one had when one was watching trees, and beasts, and rocks, and even some sorts of men—but not ‘English Grundys.’
So he was quite determined to study Art?
Oh yes, of course!
He would want to leave—Oxford, then!
No, oh no! Only some day he would have to.
She answered: “Some never get away!”
And he said quickly: “Of course, I shall never want to leave Oxford while you are there.”
He heard her draw her breath in sharply.
“Oh yes, you will! Now help me up!” And she led the way back to the hotel.
He stayed out on the terrace when she had gone in, restless and unhappy the moment he was away from her. A voice close by said:
“Well, friend Lennan—brown study, or blue devils, which?”
There, in one of those high wicker chairs that insulate their occupants from the world, he saw his tutor leaning back, head a little to one side, and tips of fingers pressed together. He looked like an idol sitting there inert, and yet—yesterday he had gone up that mountain!
“Cheer up! You will break your neck yet! When I was your age, I remember feeling it deeply that I was not allowed to risk the lives of others.”
Lennan stammered out:
“I didn’t think of that; but I thought where Mrs. Stormer could go, I could.”
“Ah! For all our admiration we cannot quite admit—can we, when it comes to the point?”
The boy’s loyalty broke into flame: