She felt pleased as she read, and then resentful when she thought over them. He had never once used a word of personal endearment, although the letters were beautifully expressed. He seemed most happy and comfortable with Arabella. After all, perhaps she would not go and stay with Prince Brunemetz at Brudenstein. She might make John come out and join her and go on to St. Moritz—that would do him good. She could wire for Arabella. The convenances were so dear to her. The wedding should take place in October, she decided.
And two days after John Derringham had arrived in London at his old rooms in Duke Street, she wrote and suggested this plan to him—and then the first preliminary crossing of swords between them happened. He answered that he would come and join her later, but until the session was over he could not leave town, and he begged her to go and stay with Prince Brunemetz, or do anything else which would amuse her. He was still upon crutches, he said, and not fitted to be a cavalier to any lady.
She shut her mouth with a snap, and, sitting down, wrote a long letter to Mr. Hanbury-Green, with whom she kept up a brisk correspondence. Very well, then! she would go to Brudenstein; she would not martyrize herself by being with a man on crutches! So half of her August passed in a most agreeable manner, and towards the end of the month she summoned her fiance to Florence. He could walk with a stick now—and to meet her there and go on to Venice and out to the Lido would be quite delightful, and could not hurt him. She deserved some attention after this long time!
The end of the session had come, and still the Government hung on, but it was obvious that they had been so much discredited that the end could not be long postponed, and that, as soon as Parliament met again, a hostile vote would be carried against them. But for the time there was nothing to keep John Derringham in England, and with intense reluctance he started for Italy, the ever-nearing date for his wedding looming in front of him like some heavy cloud. He had plunged headlong into work when he had returned from Wendover, for which he was still quite unfit. His whole system had received a terrible shock, and it would be months before he could hope to be his old robust self again; and an unutterable depression was upon him. The total silence of Halcyone, her disappearance from the face of the earth as far as he was concerned, seemed like something incredible.
There were no traces of her. Mrs. Porrit was out, and the orchard house shut up, so, he obtained no information. He had stopped there to enquire on his way to the station when he had left Wendover. La Sarthe Chase was entirely closed, except for a woman and her husband from the village who slept there. But what right had he to be interested now, in any case? He had better shut the whole matter out of his mind, and keep his thoughts upon his coming marriage with Cecilia Cricklander.