‘There is always indulgence at your age,’ said the Earl. ’You have created an impression which may be of great importance to you by-and-by.’
Louis recurred to politics. The measure was one which approved itself to his mind, and he showed all the interest which was usually stifled, by such subjects being forced on him. He was distressed at detaining his father when his presence might be essential to the success of his party, and the Earl could not bear to leave him while still confined to his bed. The little scene, so calm, and apparently so cold, seemed to cement the attachment of father and son, by convincing Louis of the full extent of his father’s love; and his enthusiasm began to invest the Earl’s grey head with a perfect halo of wisdom slighted and affection injured; and the tenor of his thread of life shone out bright and silvery before him, spun out of projects of devoting heart and soul to his father’s happiness, and meriting his fondness.
The grave Earl was looking through a magnifying-glass no less powerful. He had not been so happy since his marriage; the consciousness of his own cold manner made him grateful for any demonstration from his son, and the many little graces of look and manner which Louis had inherited from his mother added to the charm. The sense of previous injustice enhanced all his good qualities, and it was easy to believe him perfect, while nothing was required of him but to lie still. Day and night did Lord Ormersfield wait upon him, grudging every moment spent away from him, and trying to forestall each wish, till he became almost afraid to express a desire, on account of the trouble it would cause. Mary found the Earl one day wandering among the vines in the old hothouse, in search of a flower, when, to her amusement, he selected a stiff pert double hyacinth, the special aversion of his son, who nevertheless received it most graciously, and would fain have concealed the headache caused by the scent, until Mrs. Frost privately abstracted it. Another day, he went, unasked, to hasten the birdstuffer in finishing the rose-coloured pastor; and when it came, himself brought it up-stairs, unpacked it, and set it up where Louis could best admire its black nodding crest and pink wings; unaware that to his son it seemed a memento of his own misdeeds—a perpetual lesson against wayward carelessness.
‘It is like a new love,’ said Mrs. Ponsonby; ’but oh! how much depends upon Louis after his recovery!’
‘You don’t mistrust his goodness now, mamma!’
’I could not bear to do so. I believe I was thinking of his father more than of himself. After having been so much struck by his religious feeling, I dread nothing so much as his father finding him deficient in manliness or strength of character.’
A TRUANT DISPOSITION’
Gathering up each broken thread.