The Two Destinies
26. Conversation With My Mother
I REACHED my own house in time to snatch two or three hours of repose, before I paid
my customary morning visit to my mother in her own room. I observed, in her reception
of me on this occasion, certain peculiarities of look and manner which were far from
being familiar in my experience of her.
When our eyes first met, she regarded me with a wistful, questioning look, as if she were
troubled by some doubt which she shrunk from expressing in words. And when I inquired
after her health, as usual, she surprised me by answering as impatiently as if she resented
my having mentioned the subject. For a moment, I was inclined to think these changes
signified that she had discovered my absence from home during the night, and that she
had some suspicion of the true cause of it. But she never alluded, even in the most distant
manner, to Mrs. Van Brandt; and not a word dropped from her lips which implied,
directly or indirectly, that I had pained or disappointed her. I could only conclude that she
had something important to say in relation to herself or to me--and that for reasons of her
own she unwillingly abstained from giving expression to it at that time.
Reverting to our ordinary topics of conversation, we touched on the subject (always
interesting to my mother) of my visit to Shetland. Speaking of this, we naturally spoke
also of Miss Dunross. Here, again, when I least expected it, there was another surprise in
store for me.
"You were talking the other day," said my mother, "of the green flag which poor
Dermody's daughter worked for you, when you were both children. Have you really kept
it all this time?"
"Where have you left it? In Scotland?"
"I have brought it with me to London."
"I promised Miss Dunross to take the green flag with me, wherever I might go."
My mother smiled.
"Is it possible, George, that you think about this as the young lady in Shetland thinks?
After all the years that have passed, you believe in the green flag being the means of
bringing Mary Dermody and yourself together again?"
"Certainly not! I am only humoring one of the fancies of poor Miss Dunross. Could I
refuse to grant her trifling request, after all I owed to her kindness?"