With what a long caress her eyes followed him, as he went up to bed on his great sturdy legs! She was thankful that school had not contaminated her adorable innocent. If she could have been Ame for twenty-four hours, she perhaps would not have hesitated to put butter into his mouth lest it should melt.
Mr. Povey and Constance talked late and low that night. They could neither of them sleep; they had little desire to sleep. Constance’s face said to her husband: “I’ve always stuck up for that boy, in spite of your severities, and you see how right I was!” And Mr. Povey’s face said: “You see now the brilliant success of my system. You see how my educational theories have justified themselves. Never been to a school before, except that wretched little dame’s school, and he goes practically straight to the top of the third form—at nine years of age!” They discussed his future. There could be no sign of lunacy in discussing his future up to a certain point, but each felt that to discuss the ultimate career of a child nine years old would not be the act of a sensible parent; only foolish parents would be so fond. Yet each was dying to discuss his ultimate career. Constance yielded first to the temptation, as became her. Mr. Povey scoffed, and then, to humour Constance, yielded also. The matter was soon fairly on the carpet. Constance was relieved to find that Mr. Povey had no thought whatever of putting Cyril in the shop. No; Mr. Povey did not desire to chop wood with a razor. Their son must and would ascend. Doctor! Solicitor! Barrister! Not barrister—barrister was fantastic. When they had argued for about half an hour Mr. Povey intimated suddenly that the conversation was unworthy of their practical commonsense, and went to sleep.
Nobody really thought that this almost ideal condition of things would persist: an enterprise commenced in such glory must surely traverse periods of difficulty and even of temporary disaster. But no! Cyril seemed to be made specially for school. Before Mr. Povey and Constance had quite accustomed themselves to being the parents of ‘a great lad,’ before Cyril had broken the glass of his miraculous watch more than once, the summer term had come to a end and there arrived the excitations of the prize-giving, as it was called; for at that epoch the smaller schools had not found the effrontery to dub the breaking-up ceremony a ‘speech-day.’ This prize-giving furnished a particular joy to Mr. and Mrs. Povey. Although the prizes were notoriously few in number—partly to add to their significance, and partly to diminish their cost (the foundation was poor)—Cyril won a prize, a box of geometrical instruments of precision; also he reached the top of his form, and was marked for promotion to the formidable Fourth. Samuel and Constance were bidden to the large hall of the Wedgwood Institution of a summer afternoon, and they saw the whole Board of Governors