Then he went away.
The first result of Mrs. Rosscott’s invitation was that Jack refused. He said that he had a sister of his own—two, if it came to that—and so he could easily manage for himself. He was very decided about it, and somewhat lofty and bitter—a stand which no one understood his taking.
His flat refusal was communicated to his would be hostess and it goes without saying that she was as unable to understand as all the rest. It keyed well enough with his lately shown indifference, but the indifference keyed not at all with all that had gone before and still less with her very correct comprehension of Jack himself. She was quite positive as to the sincerity of those protestations which he had made so haltingly—so boyishly—and in such absolutely truthful accents. Why he had turned over a new—and bad—leaf so suddenly she did not at all know, but her woman’s wit— backed up by the many good instincts which good women always get from Heaven knows just where—made her feel firmer than ever as to her hospitable intentions. Jack had told her many times that she was his good angel, and it did not seem to her that now, when he was so deeply involved in so much trouble, was the hour for a man’s good angel to quietly turn away. Suppose he was haughty!—she knew men well enough to know that in his case haughtiness and shame would be two Dromios that even he himself would be unable to tell apart. Suppose he did rebel against her kindness!—she knew women well enough to know that under some circumstances they can put down rebellion single-handed—if they can only be left in the room alone with it for a few minutes. As regarded Jack, she knew that there was something to explain; and as to herself she was delightfully positive as to her own irresistibleness. Given two such statements and the conclusion is easy. Mrs. Rosscott wrote to Mitchell and here is what she wrote:
MY DEAR MR. MITCHELL:
I should have answered your letter before only that in the excitement of corresponding with my brother I forgot all else. But my manners have returned by slow degrees and in hunting through my desk for a bill I found you and so take up my pen.
I am quite sure that—in spite of that beautiful opening play of mine—you are wondering why I am really writing and so I will tell you at once. When Bob comes here to stay with me I want Mr. Denham to come too. I have various reasons for wanting him to come. One is that he has nowhere else to go where he will have half as good a time as he will here and another is that if he goes anywhere else I won’t have half as good a time as if he comes here. Pray excuse my brutal candor, but I am only a woman; brutal candor and womanly weakness always have gone about encouraging one another, you know. I cannot see any good reason for Mr. Denham’s