’Not to boast, darling old son, I tell truth; I am only happy when my heart is beating near you. Here comes the mother in me pumping up. Adieu. Lebe wohl. The German!—the German!—may God in his Barmherzigkeit!—Tell her I never encouraged the girl, have literally nothing to trace a temporary wrinkle on my forehead as regards conscience. I say, may it please Providence to make you a good German scholar by the day of your majority. Hurrah for it! Present my humble warm respects to your aunt Dorothy. I pray to heaven nightly for one of its angels on earth. Kunst, Wissenschaft, Ehre, Liebe. Die Liebe. Quick at the German poets. Frau: Fraulein. I am actually dazzled at the prospect of our future. To be candid, I no longer see to write. Gruss’ dich herzlich. From Vienna to you next. Lebe wohl!’
My aunt Dorothy sent a glance at the letter while I was folding it evidently thinking my unwillingness to offer it a sign of bad news or fresh complications. She spoke of Miss Penrhys.
‘Oh! that’s over,’ said I. ‘Heiresses soon get consoled.’
She accused me of having picked up a vulgar idea. I maintained that it was my father’s.
‘It cannot be your father’s,’ said she softly; and on affirming that he had uttered it and written it, she replied in the same tone, more effective than the ordinary language of conviction, ’He does not think it.’
The rage of a youth to prove himself in the right of an argument was insufficient to make me lay the letter out before other eyes than my own, and I shrank from exposing it to compassionate gentle eyes that would have pleaded similar allowances to mine for the wildness of the style. I should have thanked, but despised the intelligence of one who framed my excuses for my father, just as the squire, by abusing him, would have made me a desperate partisan in a minute. The vitality of the delusion I cherished was therefore partly extinct; not so the love; yet the love of him could no longer shake itself free from oppressive shadows.
Out of his circle of attraction books were my resource.
MY TWENTY-FIRST BIRTHDAY