'Oh, not ill. At least, I didn't understand that it was anything serious. Why don't you walk back to the house?'
'I must judge of my own affairs.'
'True; I beg your pardon. I take the train here, so I'll say good-night.'
They nodded to each other, but did not shake hands.
A day or two later, Milvain wrote to Mrs Yule, and told her that he had seen Reardon; he did not describe the circumstances under which the interview had taken place, but gave it as his opinion that Reardon was in a state of nervous illness, and made by suffering quite unlike himself. That he might be on the way to positive mental disease seemed likely enough. 'Unhappily, I myself can be of no use to him; he has not the same friendly feeling for me as he used to have. But it is very certain that those of his friends who have the power should exert themselves to raise him out of this fearful slough of despond. If he isn't effectually helped, there's no saying what may happen. One thing is certain, I think: he is past helping himself. Sane literary work cannot be expected from him. It seems a monstrous thing that so good a fellow, and one with such excellent brains too, should perish by the way when influential people would have no difficulty in restoring him to health and usefulness.'
All the months of summer went by. Jasper kept his word, and never visited Mrs Yule's house; but once in July he met that lady at the Carters', and heard then, what he knew from other sources, that the position of things was unchanged. In August, Mrs Yule spent a fortnight at the seaside, and Amy accompanied her. Milvain and his sisters accepted an invitation to visit friends at Wattleborough, and were out of town about three weeks, the last ten days being passed in the Isle of Wight; it was an extravagant holiday, but Dora had been ailing, and her brother declared that they would all work better for the change. Alfred Yule, with his wife and daughter, rusticated somewhere in Kent. Dora and Marian exchanged letters, and here is a passage from one written by the former:
'Jasper has shown himself in an unusually amiable light since we left town. I looked forward to this holiday with some misgivings, as I know by experience that it doesn't do for him and us to be too much together; he gets tired of our company, and then his selfishness--believe me, he has a good deal of it--comes out in a way we don't appreciate. But I have never known him so forbearing. To me he is particularly kind, on account of my headaches and general shakiness. It isn't impossible that this young man, if all goes well with him, may turn out far better than Maud and I ever expected. But things will have to go very well, if the improvement is to be permanent. I only hope he may make a lot of money before long. If this sounds rather gross to you, I can only say that Jasper's moral nature will never be safe as long as he is exposed to the risks of poverty. There are such people, you know. As a poor man, I wouldn't trust him out of my sight; with money, he will be a tolerable creature--as men go.'
Dora, no doubt, had her reasons for writing in this strain. She would not have made such remarks in conversation with her friend, but took the opportunity of being at a distance to communicate them in writing.