His tentative politeness charmed one who was accustomed to assurance in the youthful manner; he was disturbed because she was to drive him home, instead of his driving her. Shouldn’t he have a shot? They hadn’t a car at Robin Hill since the War, of course, and he had only driven once, and landed up a bank, so she oughtn’t to mind his trying. His laugh, soft and infectious, was very attractive, though that word, she had heard, was now quite old-fashioned. When they reached the house he pulled out a crumpled letter which she read while he was washing—a quite short letter, which must have cost her father many a pang to write. “My dear,
“You and Val will not forget, I trust, that Jon knows nothing of family history. His mother and I think he is too young at present. The boy is very dear, and the apple of her eye. Verbum sapientibus. your loving father, “J. F.”
That was all; but it renewed in Holly an uneasy regret that Fleur was coming.
After tea she fulfilled that promise to herself and took Jon up the hill. They had a long talk, sitting above an old chalk-pit grown over with brambles and goosepenny. Milkwort and liverwort starred the green slope, the larks sang, and thrushes in the brake, and now and then a gull flighting inland would wheel very white against the paling sky, where the vague moon was coming up. Delicious fragrance came to them, as if little invisible creatures were running and treading scent out of the blades of grass.
Jon, who had fallen silent, said rather suddenly:
“I say, this is wonderful! There’s no fat on it at all. Gull’s flight and sheep-bells”
“‘Gull’s flight and sheep-bells’! You’re a poet, my dear!”
“Oh, Golly! No go!”
“Try! I used to at your age.”
“Did you? Mother says ‘try’ too; but I’m so rotten. Have you any of yours for me to see?”
“My dear,” Holly murmured, “I’ve been married nineteen years. I only wrote verses when I wanted to be.”
“Oh!” said Jon, and turned over on his face: the one cheek she could see was a charming colour. Was Jon “touched in the wind,” then, as Val would have called it? Already? But, if so, all the better, he would take no notice of young Fleur. Besides, on Monday he would begin his farming. And she smiled. Was it Burns who followed the plough, or only Piers Plowman? Nearly every young man and most young women seemed to be poets now, judging from the number of their books she had read out in South Africa, importing them from Hatchus and Bumphards; and quite good—oh! quite; much better than she had been herself! But then poetry had only really come in since her day—with motor-cars. Another long talk after dinner over a wood fire in the low hall, and there seemed little left to know about Jon except anything of real importance. Holly parted from him at his bedroom door, having seen twice over that