A Few days before that on which Philip arrived at Monkshaven, Kester had come to pay Sylvia a visit. As the earliest friend she had, and also as one who knew the real secrets of her life, Sylvia always gave him the warm welcome, the cordial words, and the sweet looks in which the old man delighted. He had a sort of delicacy of his own which kept him from going to see her too often, even when he was stationary at Monkshaven; but he looked forward to the times when he allowed himself this pleasure as a child at school looks forward to its holidays. The time of his service at Haytersbank had, on the whole, been the happiest in all his long monotonous years of daily labour. Sylvia’s father had always treated him with the rough kindness of fellowship; Sylvia’s mother had never stinted him in his meat or grudged him his share of the best that was going; and once, when he was ill for a few days in the loft above the cow-house, she had made him possets, and nursed him with the same tenderness which he remembered his mother showing to him when he was a little child, but which he had never experienced since then. He had known Sylvia herself, as bud, and sweet promise of blossom; and just as she was opening into the full-blown rose, and, if she had been happy and prosperous, might have passed out of the narrow circle of Kester’s interests, one sorrow after another came down upon her pretty innocent head, and Kester’s period of service to Daniel Robson, her father, was tragically cut 353short. All this made Sylvia the great centre of the faithful herdsman’s affection; and Bella, who reminded him of what Sylvia was when first Kester knew her, only occupied the second place in his heart, although to the child he was much more demonstrative of his than to the mother.