Had I been in a laughing mood I should have laughed aloud at the effrontery of the whole thing. Well, perhaps it was better so. As far as I am concerned the whole incident shall be forgotten—a memory of Augustus sunk into the past.
And so January passed and February began.
It seems in life that things all come together. One’s days go on smoothly, uneventfully, for months, and then, one after another, a series of startling, unusual events occurs, which changes the course of the peaceful river.
At the end of February—I was still at Ledstone, and my daily communications from Amelia told me my poor mother-in-law was still a happy idiot—another telegram came to me—this time it was addressed to grandmamma—to grandmamma at the cottage! The very outside startled me.
It was long, and from an unknown firm of lawyers in America, to say that papa had died out in the West, leaving me and grandmamma a perfectly colossal fortune—all made in the space of three years, it must have been.
I seemed past feeling any grief. Papa was a shadow, a strange flash in my life for so long a time now.
I was perfectly unacquainted with business, and had no more idea than a child what I should have to do about this. I wished I had a friend to advise me. Where could I turn? I thought of Antony. For the first time since my widowhood I let my thoughts turn to him. He would give me any advice I wanted, but then—no, he had had the good taste never even to write to me. There was time enough for our meeting. I would not push fate—I, who had been a widow only two months.
The only thing there seemed for me to do was to start for America immediately, and, after taking paid advice—one gets very good advice by paying for it—Roy, McGreggor, my lawyer, and I left England one cold and bleak March morning.
As my trip to America was one of business entirely, and was unaccompanied by any interesting incidents or adventures, I have let it pass by in silence. I was too busy all the time, and too lonely, to take many fresh impressions. It seemed hurry and rush, continuous noises, and tension of the nerves. I felt glad when I once more found myself on board the great liner that was taking me to England.
It was fortunately a fine passage, not even really cold at the end of May. Just over a year ago since I was a very young girl, wondering what life had in store for me, and in twelve months a whole chapter of events and sensations had passed. I seemed to know the whole string of emotions—or so I thought.
I had my deck-chair put where I could watch the waves receding as the great ship cut her way through them.
The salt air seemed to bring fresh life to me—fresh life and fresh ideas. Two things were certain—first, that I was now much too rich for one woman, and Amelia, who had tasted nothing but the rough bits of life, was much too poor after her long service.