That long day had convinced Geraldine that the pleasantness of intercourse with the Whites was over, and she was not sorry that a letter was waiting for Clement to say that the rheumatic clergyman would arrive, if desired, in another week. This was gladly accepted, and the question remained, whither should they go? Clement’s year of absence would be over in June, and he was anxious to get home; besides that, it was desirable to take Francie to her mother as soon as possible. The only cause for delay was the possibility of Gerald’s extracting something further from his mother, which might lead to further researches on the Continent; but as most places were readily accessible from London, this was decided against, and it was determined to go back to Brompton at the same time as the Rotherwoods returned from San Remo.
On the last Sunday Mr. White showed himself much more cordial than he had been since the crisis. He waited in the porch to say-
“Well, sir, you have given us some very excellent sermons, and I am sure we are much obliged to you. If I can help you any more in investigating that unlucky affair of your nephew, do not hesitate to write to me. I shall be delighted to assist you in coming to your rights.”
“Thank you; though I sincerely hope they are not my rights.”
“Ah, well. You are not so advanced in life but that if you came into anything good, you might marry and start on a new lease! You are pounds better than when you came here.”
Which last clause was so true that Clement could only own it, with thanks to his good-humoured host, who lingered a little still to say-
“I am sorry any vexation arose about those foolish young people, but you see young women will wish to do the best they can for themselves, and will make mischief too if one listens to them. A sensible man won’t. That’s what I say.”
Clement quite agreed, though he was not sensible of having listened to any of the mischief-making, but he heartily shook hands with Mr. White, and went away, glad to be at peace.
CHAPTER XXXII. THE TEST OF DAY-DREAMS
Faith’s meanest deed more favour bears,
Where hearts and wills are weighed,
Than brightest transports, choicest prayers,
That bloom their hour and fade.-J. H. NEWMAN.
That return to Brompton was the signal for the numerous worries awaiting Clement. First, the doctors thought him much improved, but declared that a return to full work at St. Matthew’s would overthrow all the benefit of his long rest, and would not hear of his going back, even with another curate, for an experiment.