“Well, my dear, do as you think right; I trust it all to you. It is sure to turn out the right sort of ‘Magnum Bonum’ to you-”
The Monk’s characteristic ring at the bell was heard, and the letter was, without loss of time, committed to him, while both mother and son watched him as he gathered up the sense.
“Well, this is jolly!” was his first observation. “Downright handsome of Ruthven!” and then as the colour rose a little in his face, “Just the thing for you, Jock, home work, which is exactly what you, want.”
“I’m not sure about that,” said Jock; “I don’t want to get into that kind of practice just yet. It is fitter for a family man.”
“And who is a family man if you are not?” said John. “Wasn’t it the very cause of your taking this line?”
“There’s a popular prejudice in favour of wives, rather than mothers,” said Jock. “I should have said you were more likely to fulfil the conditions.”
“Oh!” and there was a sound in that exclamation that belied the sequel, “that’s just nonsense! The offer is to you primarily, and it is your duty to take it.”
“I had much rather you did, and so had Dr. Ruthven. I want more time for study and experience, and have set my heart on some scientific appointment-”
“Come now, my good fellow-why, what are you laughing at?”
“Because you are such a good imitation of your father, my dear Johnny,” said his aunt.
“It is just what my father would say,” returned John, taking this as a high compliment; “it would be very foolish of Lucas to give up a certainty for this just because of his Skipjack element, which doesn’t want to get into routine harness. Now, don’t you think so, Mother Carey?”
“If I thought it was the Skipjack element,” she said, smiling.
“If it is not,” he said, the colour now spreading all over his face, “I am all the more bound not to let him give up all his prospects in life.”
“All my prospects! My dear Monk, do you think they don’t go beyond a brougham, and unlimited staircases?”
“I only know,” cried John, nettled into being a little off his guard, “that what you despise would be all the world to me!”
The admission was hailed triumphantly, but the Kencroft nature was too resolute, and the individual conscience too generous, to be brought round to accept the sacrifice, which John estimated at the value of the importance it was to himself, viewing what was real in Lucas’s distaste, as mere erratic folly, which ought to be argued down. Finally, when the argument had gone round into at least its fiftieth circle, Mother Carey declared that she would have no more of it. Lucas should write a note to Dr. Ruthven, accepting his proposal for one or other of them, and promising that he should know which, in the course of a few days; so that John, if he chose, could write to his father or anyone else. Meantime there was to be no allusion to “the raid of Ruthven” till the day of the review was over. It was to be put entirely off the tongue, if not out of the head!