So Dr. Medlicott brought in one day a medical lecture that he wanted to have translated from the German, and told Allen that it would be well paid for. He began, but it made his head ache; it was not a subject that he could well turn over to Babie; and when Jock brought a message to say the translation must be ready the next day, only a quarter had been attempted. Jock sat up till three o’clock in the morning and finished it, but he could not pain his mother by letting her know that her son had again failed, so Allen had the money, and really believed, as he said, that all Jock had done was to put the extreme end to it, and correct the medical lingo of which he could not be expected to know anything. Allen was always so gentle, courteous, and melancholy, that every one was getting out of the habit of expecting him to do anything but bring home news, discover anything worth going to see, sit at the foot of the table, and give his verdict on the cookery. Babie indeed was sometimes provoked into snapping at him, but he bore it with the amiable magnanimity of one who could forgive a petulant child, ignorant of what he suffered.
Jock was borne up by a great pleasure that winter. One day at dinner, his mother watched his eyes dancing, and heard the old boyish ring of mirth in his laugh, and as she went up stairs at night, he came after and said-
“Fancy, I met Evelyn on the ice to-day. He wants to know if he may call.”
“What prevents him?”
“Well, I believe the poor old chap is heartily ashamed of his airs. Indeed he as good as said so. He has been longing to make a fresh start, only he didn’t know how.”
“I think he used you very ill, Jock; but if you wish to be on the old terms, I will do as you like.”
“Well,” said Jock, in an odd apologetic voice, “you see the old beggar had got into a pig-headed sort of pet last year. He said he would cut me if I left the service, and so he felt bound to be as good as his word; but he seems to have felt lost without us, and to have been looking out for a chance of meeting. He was horribly humiliated by the Friar looking over his head last week.”
“Very well. If he chooses to call, here we are.”
“Yes, and don’t put on your cold shell, mother mine. After all, Evelyn is Evelyn. There are wiser fellows, but I shall never warm to any one again like him. Why, he was the first fellow who came into my room at Eton! I am to meet him to-morrow after the lecture. May I bring him home?”
“If he likes. His mother’s son must have a welcome.”
She could not feel cordial, and she so much expected that the young gentleman might be seized with a fresh fit of exclusive disdain, that she would not mention the possibility, and it was an amazement to all save herself when Jock appeared with the familiar figure in his wake. Guardsman as he was, Cecil had the grace to look bashful, not to say shamefaced, and more so at Mrs. Brownlow’s kindly reception, than at Barbara’s freezing dignity. The young lady was hotly resentful on Jock’s behalf, and showed it by a stiff courtesy, elevated eyebrows, and the merest tips of her fingers.