That night St. George and Harry sat by the smouldering wood fire; the early spring days were warm and joyous, but the nights were still cool. The boy sat hunched up in his chair, his face drawn into lines from the anxiety of the past week; his mind absorbed in the story that St. George had brought from the Seymour house. As in all ardent temperaments, these differences with Kate, which had started as a spark, had now developed into a conflagration which was burning out his heart. His love for Kate was not a part of his life—it was all of his life. He was ready now for any sacrifice, no matter how humiliating. He would go down on his knees to his father if she wished it. He would beg Willits’s pardon—he would abase himself in any way St. George should suggest. He had done what he thought was right, and he would do it over again under like circumstances, but he would grovel at Kate’s feet and kiss the ground she stepped on if she required it of him.
St. George, who had sat quiet, examining closely the backs of his finely modelled hands as if to find some solution of the difficulty written in their delicate articulated curves, heard his outburst in silence. Now and then he would call to Todd, who was never out of reach of his voice—no matter what the hour—to replenish the fire or snuff the candles, but he answered only in nods and monosyllables to Harry. One suggestion only of the heart-broken lover seemed to promise any result, and that was his making it up with his father as his mother had suggested. This wall being broken down, and Willits no longer an invalid, perhaps Kate would see matters in a different and more favorable light.
“But suppose father doesn’t send for me, Uncle George, what will I do then?”
“Well, he is your father, Harry.”
“And you think then I had better go home and have it out with him?”
St. George hesitated. He himself would have seen Rutter in Hades before he would have apologized to him. In fact his anger choked him so every time he thought of the brutal and disgraceful scene he had witnessed when the boy had been ordered from his home, that he could hardly get his breath. But then Kate was not his sweetheart, much as he loved her.
“I don’t know, Harry. I am not his son,” he answered in an undecided way. Then something the boy’s mother had said rose in his mind: “Didn’t your mother say that your father’s loneliness without you was having its effect?—and wasn’t her advice to wait until he should send for you?”
“Yes—that was about it.”
“Well, your mother would know best. Put that question to her next time she comes in—I’m not competent to answer it. And now let us go to bed—you are tired out, and so am I.”