‘Grandfather wishes me never to forget it. He often says that.’
‘Does he? I think I understand.’
Jane drew down a branch and laid the broad cool leaves against her cheek; releasing it, she moved in the direction of the house. Her companion followed with slow step, his head bent. Before they came to the door Jane drew his attention to a bat that was sweeping duskily above their heads; she began to speak with her wonted cheerfulness.
’How I should like Pennyloaf to be here! I wonder what she’d think of it?’
At the door they bade each other good night. Sidney took yet a few turns in the garden before entering. But that it would have seemed to the Pammenters a crazy proceeding, he would have gladly struck away over the fields and walked for hours.
A VISION OF NOBLE THINGS
He slept but for an hour or two, and even then with such disturbance of fitful dreams that he could not be said to rest. At the earliest sound of movements in the house he rose and went out into the morning air. There had fallen a heavy shower just after sunrise, and the glory of the east was still partly veiled with uncertain clouds. Heedless of weather-signs, Sidney strode away at a great pace, urged by his ungovernable thoughts. His state was that miserable one in which a man repeats for the thousandth time something he has said, and torments himself with devising possible and impossible interpretations thereof. Through the night he had done nothing but imagine what significance Jane might have attached to his words about Clara Hewett. Why had he spoken of Clara at all? One moment he understood his reasons, and approved them; the next he was at a loss to account for such needless revival of a miserable story. How had Jane interpreted him? And was it right or wrong to have paused when on the point of confessing that he loved her?
Rain caught him at a distance from home, and he returned to breakfast in rather a cheerless plight. He found that Michael was not feeling quite himself, and would not rise till midday. Jane had a look of anxiety, and he fancied she behaved to him with a constraint hitherto unknown. The fancy was dispelled, however, when, later in the morning, she persuaded him to bring out his sketch-book, and suggested points of view for a drawing of the farm that had been promised to Mr. Pammenter Himself unable to recover the tone of calm intimacy which till yesterday had been natural between them, Sidney found himself studying the girl, seeking to surprise some proof that she too was no longer the same, and only affected this unconsciousness of change. There was, perhaps, a little less readiness in her eyes to meet his, but she talked as naturally as ever, and the spontaneousness of her good-humour was assuredly not feigned.