Michael shook his head.
‘Then you will let it be as if nothing had happened? Grandfather—’
She bent beside him and took his hand. Michael looked at her with a light once more in his eyes.
‘Tell him to come. He shall hear nothing from me, Jane.’
‘And you will try to forget it?’
’I wish nothing better. Tell him to come here, my child. When he’s gone we’ll talk together again.’
The interview did not last long, and Sidney left the house without seeing Jane a second time.
She would have promised anything now. Seeing that life had but one path of happiness for her, the path hopelessly closed, what did it matter by which of the innumerable other ways she accomplished her sad journey? For an instant, whilst Sidney was still speaking, she caught a gleam of hope in renunciation itself, the kind of strength which idealism is fond of attributing to noble natures. A gleam only, and deceptive; she knew it too well after the day spent by her grandfather’s side, encouraging, at the expense of her heart’s blood, all his revived faith in her. But she would not again give way. The old man should reap fruit of her gratitude and Sidney should never suspect how nearly she had proved herself unworthy of his high opinion.
She had dreamed her dream, and on awaking must be content to take up the day’s duties. Just in the same way, when she was a child at Mrs. Peckover’s, did not sleep often bring a vision of happiness, of freedom from bitter tasks, and had she not to wake in the miserable mornings, trembling lest she had lain too long? Her condition was greatly better than then, so much better that it seemed wicked folly to lament because one joy was not granted her.—Why, in the meantime she had forgotten all about Pennyloaf. That visit must be paid the first thing this morning.
THE TREASURY UNLOCKED
A Sunday morning. In their parlour in Burton Crescent, Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Snowdon were breakfasting. The sound of church bells—most depressing of all sounds that mingle in the voice of London— intimated that it was nearly eleven o’clock, but neither of our friends had in view the attendance of public worship. Blended odours of bacon and kippered herrings filled the room—indeed, the house, for several breakfasts were in progress under the same roof. For a wonder, the morning was fine, even sunny; a yellow patch glimmered on the worn carpet, and the grime of the window-panes was visible against an unfamiliar sky. Joseph, incompletely dressed, had a Sunday paper propped before him, and read whilst he ate. Clem, also in anything but grande toilette was using a knife for the purpose of conveying to her mouth the juice which had exuded from crisp rashers. As usual, they had very little to say to each other. Clem looked at her husband now and then, from under her eyebrows, surreptitiously.