But if he had cause for trouble, how much more was it so with Ida? Poor woman! under her somewhat cold and stately exterior lay a deep and at times a passionate nature. For some weeks she had been growing strangely attracted to Harold Quaritch, and now she knew that she loved him, so that there was no one thing that she desired more in this wide world than to become his wife. And yet she was bound, bound by a sense of honour and a sense too of money received, to stay at the beck and call of a man she detested, and if at any time it pleased him to throw down the handkerchief, to be there to pick it up and hold it to her breast. It was bad enough to have had this hanging over her head when she was herself more or less in a passive condition, and therefore to a certain extent reckless as to her future; but now that her heart was alight with the holy flame of a good woman’s love, now that her whole nature rebelled and cried out aloud against the sacrilege involved, it was both revolting and terrible.
And yet so far as she could see there was no great probability of escape. A shrewd and observant woman, she could gauge Mr. Cossey’s condition of mind towards herself with more or less accuracy. Also she did not think it in the least likely that having spent thirty thousand pounds to advance his object, he would be content to let his advantage drop. Such a course would be repellent to his trading instincts. She knew in her heart that the hour was not far off when he would claim his own, and that unless some accident occurred to prevent it, it was practically certain that she would be called upon to fulfil her pledge, and whilst loving another man to become the wife of Edward Cossey.
“GOOD-BYE TO YOU, EDWARD”
It was on the day following the one upon which Harold proposed to Ida, that Edward Cossey returned to Boisingham. His father had so far recovered from his attack as to be at last prevailed upon to allow his departure, being chiefly moved thereto by the supposition that Cossey and Son’s branch establishments were suffering from his son’s absence.
“Well,” he said, in his high, piercing voice, “business is business, and must be attended to, so perhaps you had better go. They talk about the fleeting character of things, but there is one thing that never changes, and that is money. Money is immortal; men may come and men may go, but money goes on for ever. Hee! hee! money is the honey-pot, and men are the flies; and some get their fill and some stick their wings, but the honey is always there, so never mind the flies. No, never mind me either; you go and look after the honey, Edward. Money— honey, honey—money, they rhyme, don’t they? And look here, by the way, if you get a chance—and the world is full of chances to men who have plenty of money—mind you don’t forget to pay out that half-pay Colonel—what’s his name?—Quaritch. He played our family a dirty trick, and there’s your poor Aunt Julia in a lunatic asylum to this moment and a constant source of expense to us.”