Rouncewell is constrained to admit that he is in the house.
"Bring him here to my room. Bring him directly."
The old lady can do nothing but go in search of him. Sir Leicester, with such power of movement as he has, arranges himself a little to receive him. When he has done so, he looks out again at the falling sleet and snow and listens again for the returning steps. A quantity of straw has been tumbled down in the street to deaden the noises there, and she might be driven to the door perhaps without his hearing wheels.
He is lying thus, apparently forgetful of his newer and minor surprise, when the housekeeper returns, accompanied by her trooper son. Mr. George approaches softly to the bedside, makes his bow, squares his chest, and stands, with his face flushed, very heartily ashamed of himself.
"Good heaven, and it is really George Rouncewell!" exclaims Sir Leicester. "Do you remember me, George?"
The trooper needs to look at him and to separate this sound from that sound before he knows what he has said, but doing this and being a little helped by his mother, he replies, "I must have a very bad memory, indeed, Sir Leicester, if I failed to remember you."
"When I look at you, George Rouncewell," Sir Leicester observes with difficulty, "I see something of a boy at Chesney Wold--I remember well--very well."
He looks at the trooper until tears come into his eyes, and then he looks at the sleet and snow again.
"I ask your pardon, Sir Leicester," says the trooper, "but would you accept of my arms to raise you up? You would lie easier, Sir Leicester, if you would allow me to move you."
"If you please, George Rouncewell; if you will be so good."
The trooper takes him in his arms like a child, lightly raises him, and turns him with his face more towards the window. "Thank you. You have your mother's gentleness," returns Sir Leicester, "and your own strength. Thank you."
He signs to him with his hand not to go away. George quietly remains at the bedside, waiting to be spoken to.
"Why did you wish for secrecy?" It takes Sir Leicester some time to ask this.
"Truly I am not much to boast of, Sir Leicester, and I--I should still, Sir Leicester, if you was not so indisposed--which I hope you will not be long--I should still hope for the favour of being allowed to remain unknown in general. That involves explanations not very hard to be guessed at, not very well timed here, and not very creditable to myself. However opinions may differ on a variety of subjects, I should think it would be universally agreed, Sir Leicester, that I am not much to boast of."
"You have been a soldier," observes Sir Leicester, "and a faithful one."
George makes his military bow. "As far as that goes, Sir Leicester, I have done my duty under discipline, and it was the least I could do."
"You find me," says Sir Leicester, whose eyes are much attracted towards him, "far from well, George Rouncewell."
"I am very sorry both to hear it and to see it, Sir Leicester."
"I am sure you are. No. In addition to my older malady, I have had a sudden and bad attack. Something that deadens," making an endeavour to pass one hand down one side, "and confuses," touching his lips.
George, with a look of assent and sympathy, makes another bow. The different times when they were both young men (the trooper much the younger of the two) and looked at one another down at Chesney Wold arise before them both and soften both.
Sir Leicester, evidently with a great determination to say, in his own manner, something that is on his mind before relapsing into silence, tries to raise himself among his pillows a little more. George, observant of the action, takes him in his arms again and places him as he desires to be. "Thank you, George. You are another self to me. You have often carried my spare gun at Chesney Wold, George. You are familiar to me in these strange circumstances, very familiar." He has put Sir Leicester's sounder arm over his shoulder in lifting him up, and Sir Leicester is slow in drawing it away again as he says these words.