Indeed, he had only been waiting for his loutish son George to finish his wild-oat sowing before communicating the news of her good fortune to Miss Aline. He was still more astonished on the way home from Ladykirk. An officer, riding, checked at his approach, and, with a sketched salute, reined his steed long enough to ask, "Do you know where Mr. Julian Wemyss is to be found?
There, fair as a garden of the Lord, the grassy knolls of the foothills melt into the golden wild-oat fields of the San Joaquin. Behind him, to the east, the virgin forest rises to the serrated peaks of the Nevada. He drops his bridle on his horse's neck. He dreams of a day when he can visit the unknown canons beyond his new home. Several Ute chiefs have described giant forests of big trees.
Quite genuine decadence this time, with nothing picturesque about it, involving doctors' bills, alimony, and other the fine crops of wild-oat sowing. At Gungapur he determined to "settle down," to "turn over a new leaf," and laid a good space of paving-stone upon his road to reward.
It was when the trade-wind-swept and irritated surfaces of the rocky gorge beyond were soothed with clinging vapors; when the pines above no longer rocked monotonously, and the great undulating sea of the wild-oat plains had gone down and was at rest.
This put on the wild-oat proposition a light which was apparently new to the literary man, for he replied, "That is a phase of the young man's problem which never occurred to me. It does sound startling when stated in that personal way."
And enchanting Divas may assist in such sowing, and be tolerated in so doing by a not too rigidly exacting paternal government may be held in so assisting not to step beyond the sphere of social functions assigned to them by the natural order of things in a manner too offensive to the mild morality of a paternal government, as long as such joint wild-oat cultivation shall in nowise threaten to interfere with the future tillage of less wild and more profitable crops by those distinguished young scions of noble races, to whose youthful aberrations a paternal government is thus wisely indulgent.
But he was forced to defer his first self-prepared breakfast until he had reached water, and a less dangerous place than the wild-oat field to build his first camp fire. This he found a mile further on, near some dwarf willows on the bank of a half-dry stream.
In that conference between Bianca and her old friend and counsellor, which has been mentioned, it had been fully brought home to the Diva's conviction that for her the pleasant time of wild-oat sowing had come to an end. "Would that the year were always May." But old Quinto Lalli knew that it wasn't.
She was again considering the same old question that she had thrashed out a thousand times should she tell Kate? How would she take it? Would the tragedy of her life be regarded as a little wild-oat sowing on the part of Sanderson and her own eternal disgrace? The man was in no humor for her silence. He grasped her roughly by the arm, and his voice was raised loud in angry protest.
A vigilant and moral governor frowns on the instant; and a paternal government well knows how to protect its distinguished sons by very summary and effectual process. But when for a poor Diva there comes also the time when that pleasant wild-oat sowing seems no longer a promising pursuit, what does the paternal wisdom decree as to her future? Why, she must reap as she has sown or helped to sow.