Cairness was taciturn. It was some moments before he could control his annoyance, by the main strength of his sense of justice, by telling himself once again that he had no right to blame Felipa for the manifestations of that nature he had known her to possess from the first. It was not she who was changing.
He and the parson followed her out of the house. She had not cared to say good-by to Mrs. Taylor, and she glared at the little Reverend, who balanced himself on his uncertain small feet and clutched at a chair, watching her with his precocious eyes and an expression combined of his mother's virtuous disapproval[Pg 258] and his father's contemplative scrutiny, the while the tufts of his hair stood out stiffly.
The two children whom Felipa had taken in charge two years before had been left in the care of the sergeant of Landor's troop and his wife, and they manifested no particular pleasure at seeing her again. They were half afraid of her, so severely black and tall and quiet. They had been playing with the soldier's children, and were anxious to be away again. The young of the human race are short of memory, and their gratefulness does not endure for long. There is no caress so sweet, so hard to win, as the touch of a child's soft hand, and none that has behind it less of nearly all that we prize in affection. It is sincere while it lasts, and no longer, and it must be bought either with a price or with a wealth of love. You may lavish the best that is within you to obtain a kiss from baby lips, and if they rest warm and moist upon your cheek for a moment, the next they are more eager for a sweetmeat than for all your adoration. "Cairness," said the parson, fixing his eyes upon the back of the bent head, as if they were trying to see through into the impenetrable brain beneath, "are you going to spend the rest of your life at this sort of thing?"