“I have no patience with him!” cried Zora. “I told him only a short while ago that both of us would be delighted if he married Emmy.”
“They must come back, dear, and be married properly. Do make them,” urged Mrs. Oldrieve. “The Vicar will be so shocked and hurt—and what Cousin Jane will say when she hears of it—”
She raised her mittened hands and let them fall into her lap. The awfulness of Cousin Jane’s indignation transcended the poor lady’s powers of description. Zora dismissed the Vicar and Cousin Jane as persons of no account. The silly pair were legally married, and she would see that there was a proper notice put in The Times. As for bringing them back—she looked at the clock.
“They are on their way now to Folkestone.”
“It wouldn’t be any good telegraphing them to come back and be properly married in church?”
“Not the slightest,” said Zora; “but I’ll do it if you like.”
So the telegram was dispatched to “Septimus Dix, Boulogne Boat, Folkestone,” and Mrs. Oldrieve took a brighter view of the situation.
“We have done what we can, at any rate,” she said by way of self-consolation.
Now it so happened that Emmy, like many another person at their wits’ end, had given herself an amazing amount of unnecessary trouble. Her flight had not been noticed till the maid had entered her room at half-past eight. She had obviously packed up some things in a handbag. Obviously again she had caught the eight-fifteen train from Ripstead, as she had done once or twice before when rehearsals or other theatrical business had required an early arrival in London. Septimus’s telegram had not only allayed no apprehension, but it had aroused a mild curiosity. Septimus was master of his own actions. His going up to London was no one’s concern. If he were starting for the Equator a telegram would have been a courtesy. But why announce his arrival in London? Why couple it with Emmy’s? And why in the name of guns and musical comedies should Zora worry? But when she reflected that Septimus did nothing according to the orthodox ways of men, she attributed the superfluous message to his general infirmity of character, smiled indulgently, and dismissed the matter from her mind. Mrs. Oldrieve had nothing to dismiss, as she had been led to believe that Emmy had gone up to London by the morning train. She only bewailed the flighty inconsequence of modern young women, until she reflected that Emmy’s father had gone and come with disconcerting unexpectedness from the day of their wedding to that of his death on the horns of a buffalo; whereupon she fatalistically attributed her daughter’s ways to heredity. So while the two incapables were sedulously covering up their tracks, the most placid indifference as to their whereabouts reigned in Nunsmere.