“I detest him,” said Harry, from beneath the bedclothes.
“You won’t be troubled with him any more this Summer, for he means to be off in less than a week.”
“And what is she to do?” asked Mrs. Clavering.
“Live here as she has done ever since Julia married. I don’t see that it will make much difference to her. He’s never with her when he’s in England, and I should think she must be more comfortable without him than with him.”
“It’s a great catch for Archie,” said Harry.
“Archie Clavering is a fool,” said Mrs. Clavering.
“They say he understands a yacht,” said the rector, who then left the room.
The rector’s news was all true. Sir Hugh Clavering had come down to the Park, and had announced his intention of going to Norway in Jack Stuart’s yacht. Archie also had been invited to join the party. Sir Hugh intended to leave the Thames in about a week, and had not thought it necessary to give his wife any intimation of the fact, till he told her himself of his intention. He took, I think, a delight in being thus overharsh in his harshness to her. He proved to himself thus not only that he was master, but that he would be master without any let or drawback, without compunction, and even without excuses for his ill-conduct. There should be no plea put in by him in his absences, that he had only gone to catch a few fish, when his intentions had been other than piscatorial. He intended to do as he liked now and always-and he intended that his wife should know that such was his intention. She was now childless, and, therefore, he had no other terms to keep with her than those which appertained to her necessities for bed and board. There was the house, and she might live in it; and there were the butchers and the bakers, and other tradesmen to supply her wants. Nay; there were the old carriage and the old horses at her disposal, if they could be of any service to her. Such were Sir Hugh Clavering’s ideas as to the bonds inflicted upon him by his marriage vows.
“I’m going to Norway next week” It was thus Sir Hugh communicated his intention to his wife within five minutes of their first greeting.
“To Norway, Hugh?”
“Yes; why not to Norway? I and one or two others have got some fishing there. Archie is going, too. It will keep him from spending his money; or rather from spending money which isn’t his.”
“And for how long will you be gone?”
It was part of Sir Hugh Clavering’s theory as to these matters that-there should be no lying in the conduct of them. He would not condescend to screen any part of his doings by a falsehood—so he answered this question with exact truth.
“I don’t suppose we shall be back before October.”
“Not before October?”
“No. We are talking of putting in on the coast of Normandy somewhere; and probably may run down to Brittany. I shall be back, at any rate, for the hunting. As for the partridges, the game has gone so much to the devil here that they are not worth coming for.”