I shortly afterwards took my leave, and departed buoyed up by the strong hope that the desire of my heart would be obtained.
Nor was I disappointed. On the day she had promised I received a letter from Miss Dalmayne saying that she was willing to accept me, but frankly confessing that she had no love for me as yet, though admitting that she liked me. “If,” she continued, “you are willing to take me on this understanding, I am ready to be your wife.”
Needless to say I was willing to accept these terms, and three months afterwards we were man and wife.
It was in the month of July that we were married, and we went to Aix-les-Bains for the honeymoon. A few days previously Mr. Dalmayne asked me to lend him a thousand pounds, which I did cheerfully, for after what my friend Ross had told me I was fully prepared for such a request.
My wife had never been to Aix before, and seemed to amuse herself very much. She played a little at the tables, and with a considerable amount of success. I must admit that she was very kind to me, and though of course I easily saw that I did not at present possess her real affection, I was not discontented, and hoped for the time to come when we should be all in all to each other. We had met very few acquaintances at Aix, for it was not a good season as far as English visitors were concerned, owing to attacks on our country and Government by the French papers. But when we had been there about three weeks a Captain Morland came upon the scene. Captain Morland, who was an officer in the Grenadier Guards, had known my wife since she was a child. They seemed very pleased to see each other again, but there was a certain sadness that I noticed in the young officer’s manner. He had just been invalided home from South Africa, where he had been on active service during the time with which my narrative deals. He was a handsome young man, tall and well built, and with kind and expressive blue eyes. He was singularly reticent as to his exploits during the war, though I heard from a friend of his who was with him at Aix that he had been mentioned in despatches and had been recommended for the D.S.O. He was a man to whom the merest chance acquaintance was certain to take a fancy. I am bound to say that I did so myself, and I hope that in what I am calmly relating I shall not be considered to have intentionally failed to do him justice.
It was the second week in August, and as the weather was very hot, my wife and I had determined to leave Aix and go to Trouville for a little sea air and bathing. Three days before our departure I returned to the hotel to dress for dinner. I was just going through the corridor when I heard voices in our sitting-room. They were the voices of my wife and Captain Morland.
I don’t think that I am naturally a mean man, but I was mean enough to listen on this occasion.
“You mustn’t blame me, Hubert,” said my wife, “we were all on the verge of ruin, and I was bound to marry him.”