Stella smiled at her. “Oh do! Perhaps there will be some interesting news of Kurrumpore in it.”
“News of Monck perhaps,” suggested Tommy. “There’s a fellow who never writes a letter. I haven’t the faintest idea where he is or what he is doing, except that he went to his brother somewhere in England. He is due back in about a fortnight, but I probably shan’t hear a word of him until he’s there.”
“You have not written to him either?” questioned Stella.
“I couldn’t. I didn’t know where to write.” Tommy’s eyes met hers with slight hesitation. “I haven’t been able to tell him anything of our affairs. It’s quite possible though that he will have heard before he gets back to The Green Bungalow. He generally gets hold of things.”
“It need not make any difference.” Stella spoke slowly, her eyes fixed upon the green race-course that gleamed in the sun below them. “So far as I am concerned, he is quite welcome to remain at The Green Bungalow. I daresay we should not get in each other’s way. That is,” she looked at her brother, “if you prefer that arrangement.”
“I say, that’s jolly decent of you!” Tommy’s face was flushed with pleasure. “Sure you mean it?”
“Quite sure.” Stella spoke rather wearily. “It really doesn’t matter to me—except that I don’t want to come between you and your friend. Now that I have been married—” a tinge of bitterness sounded in her voice—“I suppose no one will take exception. But of course Captain Monck may see the matter in a different light. If so, pray let him do as he thinks fit!”
“You bet he will!” said Tommy. “He’s about the most determined cuss that ever lived.”
“He’s a very nice man,” put in Tessa jealously.
Tommy laughed. “He’s one of the best,” he agreed heartily. “And he’s the sort that always comes out on top sooner or later. Just you remember that, Tessa! He’s a winner, and he’s straight—straight as a die.” “Which is all that matters,” said Mrs. Ralston, without lifting her eyes from her letter.
“Hear, hear!” said Tommy. “Why do you look like that, Stella? Mean to say he isn’t straight?”
“I didn’t say anything.” Stella still spoke wearily, albeit she was faintly smiling. “I was only wondering.”
“Wondering what?” Tommy’s voice had a hint of sharpness; he looked momentarily aggressive.
“Just wondering how much you knew of him, that’s all,” she made answer.
“I know as much as any one,” asserted Tommy quickly. “He’s a man to be honoured. I’d stake my life on that. He is incapable of anything mean or underhand.”