Harry made no reply, but it did not ruffle his temper. His duty was no longer to be found at Moorlands; his Uncle George claimed him. All his hours would now be devoted to showing him how grateful he was for his protection and guidance. Time enough for his father, and time enough for Kate, for that matter, should the clouds ever lift—as lift they would—but his Uncle George first, last, and all the time.
And St. George appreciated it to the full. Never had he been so happy. Even the men at the club saw the change, and declared he looked ten years younger—fifteen really, when Harry was with him, which was almost always the case—for out of consideration for St. George and the peculiar circumstances surrounding the boy’s condition, his birth and station, and the pride they took in his pluck, the committee had at last stretched the rule and had sent Mr. Henry Gilmor Rutter of Moorlands—with special reference to “Moorlands,” a perennial invitation entitling him to the club’s privileges—a card which never expired because it was systematically renewed.
And it was not only at the club that the two men were inseparable. In their morning walks, the four dogs in full cry; at the races; in the hunts, when some one loaned both Harry and his uncle a mount—at night, when Todd passed silently out, leaving all the bottled comforts behind him—followed by—“Ah, Harry!—and you won’t join me? That’s right, my son—and I won’t ask you,” the two passed almost every hour of the day and night together. It was host one minute and father the next.
And this life, if the truth be told, did not greatly vary from the one the boy had always led, except that there was more of town and less of country in it than he had heretofore been accustomed to. The freedom from all care—for the colonel had trained Harry to neither business nor profession—was the same, and so was the right to employ his time as he pleased. At Moorlands he was busy over his horses and dogs, his sporting outfits, riding to hounds, cock-fights—common in those days—and, of course, assisting his father and mother in dispensing the hospitality of the house. In Kennedy Square St. George was his chief occupation, and of the two he liked the last the best. What he had hungered for all his life was sympathy and companionship, and this his father had never given him; nor had he known what it was since his college days. Advice, money, horses, clothes, guns—anything and everything which might, could, or would redound to the glory of the Rutters had been his for the asking, but the touch of a warm hand, the thrill in the voice when he had done something to please and had waited for an acknowledgment—that had never come his way. Nothing of this kind was needed between men, his father would say to Harry’s mother—and his son was a man now. Had their child been a daughter, it would have been quite another thing, but a son was to be handled differently—especially an only son who was sole heir to one’s entire estate.