“It may be very wicked,” she said deliberately, “but I hate Lady Bassett.”
Grange looked astonished, even mildly shocked. But Muriel returned to the letter before he could reply.
It went on to express regret that the writer could not herself return to England for the summer to assist her in the purchase of her trousseau and to chaperon her back to India in the autumn; but her sister, Mrs. Langdale, who lived in London, would she was sure, be delighted to undertake the part of adviser in the first case, and in the second she would doubtless be able to find among her many friends who would be travelling East for the winter, one who would take charge of her. No reference was made to Daisy till the end of the letter, when the formal hope was expressed that Mrs. Musgrave’s health had benefited by the change.
“She dares to disapprove of Daisy for some reason,” Muriel said, closing the letter with the rapidity of exasperation.
Grange did not ask why. He was engrossed in brushing a speck of mud from his sleeve, and she was not sure that he even heard her remark.
“You—I suppose you are not going to bother about a trousseau yet then?” he asked rather awkwardly.
She shook her head with vehemence. “No, no, of course not. Why should I hurry? Besides, I am in mourning.”
“Exactly as you like,” said Grange gently. “My leave will be up in September, as you know, but I am not bound to stay in the Army. I will send in my papers if you wish it.”
Muriel looked at him in amazement. “Send in your papers! Why no, Blake! I wouldn’t have you do it for the world. I never dreamed of such a thing.”
He smiled good-humouredly. “Well, of course, I should be sorry to give up polo, but there are plenty of other things I could take to. Personally, I like a quiet existence.”
Was there just a shade of scorn in Muriel’s glance as it fell away from him? It would have been impossible for any bystander to say with certainty, but there was without doubt a touch of constraint in her voice as she made reply.
“Yes. You are quite the most placid person I know. But please don’t think of leaving the Army for my sake. I am a soldier’s daughter remember. And—I like soldiers.”
Her lip quivered as she turned to enter the house. Her heart at that moment was mourning over a soldier’s unknown grave. But Grange did not know it, did not even see that she was moved.
His eyes were raised to an upper window at which a dim figure stood looking out into the shadows. And he was thinking of other things.
THE ETERNAL FLAME
Daisy maintained her resolution on the following day, and though she did not speak again of going downstairs, she insisted that Muriel should return to the hockey-field and resume her place in Olga’s team. It was the last match of the season, and she would not hear of her missing it.