She found a letter lying on her table when she entered her room, and took it up listlessly, without much interest. Her mind was still running on those two anecdotes with which Bobby Fraser had so successfully enlivened her boredom. The writing on the envelope was vaguely familiar to her, but she did not associate it with anything of importance. Absently she opened it, half reluctant to recall her wandering thoughts. It came from a Hill station in Bengal, but that told her nothing. She turned to the signature.
The next instant she had turned back again to the beginning, and was reading eagerly. Her correspondent was Will Musgrave.
“Dear Miss Roscoe,”—ran the letter. “After long consideration I have decided to write and beg of you a favour which I fancy you will grant more readily than I venture to ask. My wife, as you probably know, joined me some months ago. She is in very indifferent health, and has expressed a most earnest wish to see you. I believe there is something which she wishes to tell you—something that weighs upon her heavily; and though I trust that all will go well with her, I cannot help feeling that she would stand a much better chance of this if only her mind could be set at rest. I know I am asking a big thing of you, for the journey is a ghastly one at this time of the year, but if of your goodness you can bring yourself to face it, I will myself meet you and escort you across the Plains. Will you think the matter carefully over? And perhaps you would wire a reply.
“I have written without
Daisy’s knowledge, as she seems
to feel that she has forfeited the right to your
Muriel’s reply was despatched that evening, almost before she had fully read the appeal.
“Starting to-morrow,” was all she said.
THE HEALING OF THE BREACH
Lady Bassett considered the decision deplorably headlong, and said so; but her remonstrances were of no avail. Muriel tossed aside her listlessness as resolutely as the ball-dress that had been laid out for the evening’s festivity, and plunged at once into preparations for her journey. She knew full well that it was of no actual importance to Lady Bassett whether she went or stayed, and she did not pretend to think otherwise. Moreover, no power on earth would have kept her away from Daisy now that she knew herself to be wanted.
Though more than half of the three days’ journey lay across the sweltering Plains, she contemplated it without anxiety, even with rejoicing. At last, the breach, over which she had secretly mourned so deeply, was to be healed.
The next morning at an early hour she was upon her way. She looked out as she drove through the gates for the old native beggar who had crouched at the entrance on the previous afternoon. He was not there, but a little way further she met him hobbling along to take up his post for the day. From the folds of his chuddah his unkempt beard wagged entreaty at the carriage as it passed. Impulsively, because of the gladness that was so new to her lonely heart, she leaned from the window and threw him a rupee.