She replied calmly, ‘Not immediately.’
‘You are not immediately anxious to fulfil his wishes?’
‘Harry, I find it hard to do those that are thrust on me.’
’But, as a matter of serious obligation, you would hold yourself bound by and by to perform them all?’
‘I cannot speak any further of my willingness, Harry.’
’The sense of duty is evidently always sufficient to make you act upon the negative—to deny, at least?’
‘Yes, I daresay,’ said Janet.
We shook hands like a pair of commercial men.
I led my father to Bulsted. He was too feverish to remain there. In the evening, after having had a fruitless conversation with my aunt Dorothy upon the event of the day, I took him to London that he might visit his lawyers, who kindly consented to treat him like doctors, when I had arranged to make over to them three parts of my annuity, and talked of his Case encouragingly; the effect of which should not have astonished me. He closed a fit of reverie resembling his drowsiness, by exclaiming: ’Richie will be indebted to his dad for his place in the world after all!’ Temporarily, he admitted, we must be fugitives from creditors, and as to that eccentric tribe, at once so human and so inhuman, he imparted many curious characteristics gained of his experience. Jorian DeWitt had indeed compared them to the female ivy that would ultimately kill its tree, but inasmuch as they were parasites, they loved their debtor; he was life and support to them, and there was this remarkable fact about them: by slipping out of their clutches at critical moments when they would infallibly be pulling you down, you were enabled to return to them fresh, and they became inspired with another lease of lively faith in your future: et caetera. I knew the language. It was a flash of himself, and a bad one, but I was not the person whom he meant to deceive with it. He was soon giving me other than verbal proof out of England that he was not thoroughly beaten. We had no home in England. At an hotel in Vienna, upon the close of the aristocratic season there, he renewed an acquaintance with a Russian lady, Countess Kornikoff, and he and I parted. She disliked the Margravine of Rippau, who was in Vienna, and did not recognize us. I heard that it was the Margravine who had despatched Prince Hermann to England as soon as she discovered Ottilia’s flight thither. She commissioned him to go straightway to Roy in London, and my father’s having infatuatedly left his own address for Prince Ernest’s in the island, brought Hermann down: he only met Eckart in the morning train. I mention it to show the strange working of events.
Janet sent me a letter by the hands of Temple in August. It was moderately well written for so blunt a writer, and might have touched me but for other news coming simultaneously that shook the earth under my feet.
She begged my forgiveness for her hardness, adding characteristically that she could never have acted in any other manner. The delusion, that what she was she must always be, because it was her nature, had mastered her understanding, or rather it was one of the doors of her understanding not yet opened: she had to respect her grandada’s wishes. She made it likewise appear that she was ready for further sacrifices to carry out the same.