“Well, Jack,” said Howard, smiling, “it’s very good of you to say this. I can’t quite accept it, but I am very grateful. There was some truth in what you said—but it wasn’t quite the whole truth; and anyhow you and I won’t squabble—I shouldn’t like that!”
Jack nodded and smiled, and they went on to talk of other things; but Howard was pleased to see that the boy hung about him, determined to make up for his temper, looked after his luggage, saw him into the train, and waved him a very ingenuous farewell, with a pretence of tears.
The journey passed in a listless dream for Howard, but everything faded before the thought of Maud. What could he do to make up for his brutality? He could not see his way clear. He had a sense that it was unfair to claim her affection, to sentimentalise; and he thought that he had been doubly wrong—wrong in engaging her interest so quickly, wrong in playing on her unhappiness just for his own enjoyment, and doubly wrong in trying to disengage their relation so roughly. It was a mean business; and yet though he did not want to hold her, he could not bear to let her go.
As he came near Cambridge and in sight of the familiar landscape, the wide fields, the low lines of far-off wolds, he was surprised to find that instead of being depressed, a sense of comfort stole over him, and a feeling of repose. He had crammed too many impressions and emotions into his visit; and now he was going back to well-known and peaceful activities. The sight of his rooms pleased him, and the foregathering with the three or four of his colleagues was a great relief. Mr. Redmayne was incisive and dogmatic, but evidently pleased to see him back. He had not been away, and professed that holidays and change of scene were distracting and exhausting. “It takes me six weeks to recover from a holiday,” he said. He had had an old friend to stay with him, a country parson, and he had apparently spent his time in elaborate manoeuvres to see as little of his guest as possible. “A worthy man, but tedious,” he said, “wonderfully well preserved—in body, that is; his mind has entirely gone to pieces; he has got some dismal notions in his head about the condition of the agricultural poor; he thinks they want uplifting! Now I am all for the due subordination of classes. The poor are there, if I may speak plainly, to breed—that is their first duty; and their only other duty that I can discover, is to provide for the needs of men of virtue and intelligence!”
Later on, Howard was left alone with him, and thought that it would please the old man to tell him of the change in his own position.