She could ill afford to do this for several reasons.
She was the widow of Lord Percival Linton, who had married her chiefly for her large dowry.
He had been a fast, unprincipled man, who had run through his own property and most of hers before death put an end to his mad career.
They had one son, Percy, and a daughter, Lillian, and Lady Linton, with her two children, had been largely dependent upon the generosity of her brother ever since her husband’s death, and he was even now bearing all the expense of the education of his nephew and niece.
They had made their home chiefly at Heathdale, because Lady Linton’s pride could not tolerate life at Linton Grange when they had no means to keep it up in proper style, and it was very pleasant and comfortable to be in her brother’s home, where there was abundance of everything, and where she had been allowed to manage the household in her own way.
It would therefore be very mortifying to have its hospitable doors closed against her, and, finding herself liable to be ignominiously checkmated if she persisted in her present course, she resolved to “right about face” with the greatest grace possible, at least until she was obliged to yield her position to the future mistress of Heathdale.
“Fie, William, don’t allow yourself to get in such a passion,” she said, in a conciliatory tone. “Perhaps I have expressed myself more freely than I ought, but you ought to make allowance for our great disappointment. Remember that you are the pride of an old and honored family, and it is but natural that we should wish you to marry in your own station. But do not fear. When Lady Heath comes to take her place as mistress here she shall be received in a becoming manner.”
Her ladyship arose as she ceased speaking, her eye falling as she did so upon the lovely upturned face upon the table, and she vowed in her heart that if she could prevent it, the girl should never set her foot over the threshold of Heathdale.
How she was to carry out this vow she had as yet no idea; but all the malice and enmity of her heart had been aroused against her, and it should go hard with her if she could not find some way to vent it upon her.
“Thank you, Miriam,” Sir William responded, as he opened the door for his sister to pass out, but he spoke somewhat coldly.
He could not lightly forgive and overlook the scorn that had been heaped upon the darling of his heart, while the fact that his marriage had been kept a secret angered him exceedingly, and placed him in a very unpleasant position.
He resolved that as soon as his mother should be better, he would have a plain talk with her, also, and insist upon an announcement of Lady Heath’s existence and her expected arrival. But until the invalid was out of danger he deemed it advisable not to create any excitement on the subject.