Then she locked the door carefully, and followed her son into the small parlour, where she had been sitting. He gave her his father’s letter, and assumed for her sake, the air of one who has brought good tidings. She silently read, and folded it; and George said, “It was the most fortunate thing, the North Star being ready for sea. Father could hardly have had a better boat; and they started with wind and tide in their favour. We shall hear in a few weeks from him. Are you not pleased, mother?”
“It is too late, Joris;—twenty years too late. And I wish not to go to England. Very unhappy was I in that cold, grey country. Very happy am I here.”
“But you must have expected this change?”
“Not until your cousin died was there any thought of such a thing. And long before that, we had built and begun to love dearly this home. I wish, then, it had been God’s will that your cousin had not died.”
“Ah, Joris, your father has always longed in his heart for England. Like a weaning babe that never could be weaned was he. In many ways, he has lately shown me that he felt himself to be a future English earl. And thou too? Wilt thou become an Englishman? Then this fair home I have made for thee will forget thy voice and thy footstep. Woe is me! I have planted and planned, for whom I know not.”
“You have planned and planted for your Joris. I swear to you that I like England as little as you do. I despise the tomfoolery of courts and ceremonies. I count an earl no better than any other honourable gentleman. I desire most of all to marry the woman I love, and live here in the home that reminds me of you wherever I turn. I want your likeness on the great stairway, and in all the rooms; so that those who may never see your face may love you; and say, ’How good she looks! How beautiful she is!’”
“So true art thou! So loving! So dear to me! Even in England I can be happy if I think of thee Here—filling these big rooms with good company; riding, shooting, over thine own land, fishing in thy own waters, telling thy boys and girls how dear grandmother had this pond dug—this hedge planted—these woods filled with game—these streams set with willows—these summerhouses built for pleasure. Oh, I have thought ever as I worked, I shall leave my memory here—and here—and here again—for never, Joris, never, dear Joris, while thou art in this world, must thou forget me!”
“Never! Never, oh never, dear, dear mother!”
And that night they said no more. Both felt there would be plenty of time in the future to consider whatever changes it might have in store for them.
The first changes referred especially to Hyde’s life, and were not altogether approved by him. His pretence of reading law had to be abandoned, for he had promised to remain at home with his mother, and it would not therefore be possible for him to dawdle about Pearl Street and Maiden Lane watching for Cornelia. But he had that happy and fortunate temper that trusts to events; and also, he soon began to realize that if circumstances alter cases, they also alter feelings.