“I am delighted to hear it,” said Mr. Redmayne: “a landed proprietor, that’s a very comfortable thing! Now how will that affect your position here? Ah yes, I see—only the heir-apparent at present. Well, you will probably find that the estate has all been run on very sentimental lines by your worthy aunt. You take my advice, and put it all on a business-like footing. Let it be clear from the first that you won’t stand any nonsense. Ideas!” said Mr. Redmayne in high disdain, “that’s the curse of the country. Ideas everywhere, about the empire, about civic rights and duties, about religion, about art”—he made a long face as though he had swallowed medicine. “Let us all keep our distance and do our work. Let us have no nonsense about the brotherhood of man. I hope with all my heart, Howard, that you won’t permit anything of that kind. I don’t feel as sure of you as I should like; but this will be a very good thing for you, if it shows you that all this stuff will not do in practice. I’m an honest Whig. Let everyone have a vote, and let them give their votes for the right people, and then we shall get on very well.”
The college slowly filled; the term began; Howard went back to his work, and the perplexities of Windlow rather faded into the background. He would behave very differently when he went there next. It should all be cool, friendly, unemotional. But in spite of everything, his aunt’s words came sometimes into his mind, troubling it with a sudden thrill. “Power, spirit, the development of life,”—were these real things, had one somehow to put oneself into touch with them? Was the life of serene and tranquil work but marking time, wasting opportunity? Had one somehow to be stirred into action and reality? Was there something in the background, which did not insist or drive or interfere with one’s inclinations, because it knew that it would be obeyed and yielded to some time? Was it just biding its time, waiting, impelling but not forcing one to change? It gave him an impulse to look closer at his own views and aims, to consider what his motives really were, how far he could choose, how much he could prevail, to what extent he could really do as he hoped and desired. He was often haunted by a sense of living in a mechanical unreality, of moving simply on lines of easy habit. That was a tame, a flat business, perhaps; but it was what seemed to happen.
And yet all the time he was more and more haunted by the thought of Maud. He could not get her out of his head. Over and over again he lived through the scenes of their meetings. Against the background of the dusk, that slender figure outlined itself, the lines of her form, her looks, her smiles; he went again and again through his talks with her—the walk on the down, the sight of her in the dimly-lighted room; he could hear the very tones of her low voice,