He missed the bachelor evenings of former days—the whisky and water, the pipes, and the literary discussion; and as the days went by he began to think of London; his thoughts turned affectionately towards the friends he had not seen for so long, and at the end of July he announced his intention of running up to town for a few days. So one morning breakfast was hurried through; Emily was sure there was plenty of time; Hubert looked at the clock and said he must be off; Julia ran after him with parcels which he had forgotten; farewell signs were waved; the dog-cart passed out of sight, and, after lingering a moment, the women returned to the drawing-room thoughtfully.
‘I wonder if he’ll catch the train,’ said Emily, without taking her face from the window.
’I hope so; it will be very tiresome for him if he has to come back. There isn’t another train before three o’clock.’
’If he missed this train he wouldn’t go until to-morrow morning.... I wonder how long he’ll stay away. Supposing something happened, and he never came back!’ Emily turned round and looked at Julia in dreamy wonderment.
’Not come back at all? What nonsense you are talking, Emily! He won’t be away more than a fortnight or three weeks.’
’Three weeks! that seems a very long while. How shall we get through our evenings?’
Emily had again turned towards the window. Julia did not trouble to reply. She smiled a little, as she paused on the threshold, for she remembered that no more than a few weeks ago Emily had addressed to her passionate speeches declaring her to be her only friend, and that they would like to live together, content in each other’s companionship, always ignoring the rest of the world. Although she had not mistaken these speeches for anything more than the nervous passion of a moment, the suddenness of the recantation surprised her a little. Three or four days after, the girl was in a different mood, and when they came into the drawing-room after dinner she threw her arms about Julia’s neck, saying, ’Isn’t this like old times? Here we are, living all alone together, and I’m not boring myself a bit. I never shall have another friend like you, Julia.’
‘But you’ll be very glad when Hubert comes back.’
’There’s no harm in that, is there? I should be very ungrateful if I wasn’t. Think how good he has been to us.... I’m afraid you don’t like him, Julia.’