“Thank you. Now I know where I stand. And you won’t say a word to Roy. You mustn’t—really——” She almost pleaded. “He worships his mother in quite the old-fashioned way. He simply couldn’t see—the other point of view. Besides—he’s ill ... unhappy. Whatever your attitude forces one to say, can only be said by me.”
“I don’t take orders from my own daughter,” Mrs Elton retorted ungraciously. She was in no humour for bargaining or dictation. “But I’m sure I’ve no wish to talk to him. I’ll give you a week or ten days to make your plans. But whenever you have him here, I shall be out. And if you come to your senses—you can let me know.”
On that she departed, leaving Rose feeling battered and shaken, and horribly uncertain what—in the face of that bombshell—she intended to do: she, who had made Lance suffer cruelly, and evoked a tragic situation between him and Roy, largely in order to avoid a clash that would have been as nothing compared with this...!
Her sensations were in a whirl. But somehow—she must pull it through. Home life was becoming intolerable. And—for several cogent reasons—she wanted Roy. If need be, she would tell him, diplomatically; dissociating herself from her mother’s attitude.
And yet—her mother had said things that would stick; hateful things, that might be true....
Decidedly, she could not write him a long letter: only enough to bring him back to her in a relenting mood. Sitting down again, she unearthed from her black-and-silver bag a fountain pen and half a sheet of paper.
“MY DARLING ROY” (she wrote),—
“Your letter did hurt—badly. Perhaps I deserved it. All I can say till we meet, is—forgive me, if you can, because of Lance. It’s rather odd—though you are my lover, and I suppose you do care still—I can think of no stronger appeal than that. He cared so for us both, in his big splendid way. Can’t we stand by each other?
“You ask me to make allowances.
Will you be generous, and do the
same on a larger scale for your sincerely loving (and not
[Footnote 36: Government by order.]
“She had a step that walked
It made the stones like grass;
Yet that light step had crushed a heart
As light as that step was.”
At last, Roy was actually coming. The critical moment was upon them; and Rose sat alone in the drawing-room awaiting him.
Her mother was out; had arranged to be out for the evening also. The strain between them still continued; and it told most on Rose. The cat-like element in her loved comfort; and an undercurrent of clash was peculiarly irritating in her present sore, uncertain state of heart. Weeks of it, she knew, would scarcely leave a dent on her mother’s leathern temperament. When it came to a tug the tougher nature scored, which was one reason why she had so skilfully avoided tugs hitherto.