“What do you mean?”
“I think, Blanche, we shall hear from your step-mother by return of post.”
CHAPTER THE THIRTY-EIGHTH.
THE NEWS FROM GLASGOW.
THE letters to Lady Lundie and to Mr. Crum having been dispatched on Monday, the return of the post might be looked for on Wednesday afternoon at Ham Farm.
Sir Patrick and Arnold held more than one private consultation, during the interval, on the delicate and difficult subject of admitting Blanche to a knowledge of what had happened. The wise elder advised and the inexperienced junior listened. “Think of it,” said Sir Patrick; “and do it.” And Arnold thought of it—and left it undone.
Let those who feel inclined to blame him remember that he had only been married a fortnight. It is hard, surely, after but two weeks’ possession of your wife, to appear before her in the character of an offender on trial—and to find that an angel of retribution has been thrown into the bargain by the liberal destiny which bestowed on you the woman whom you adore!
They were all three at home on the Wednesday afternoon, looking out for the postman.
The correspondence delivered included (exactly as Sir Patrick had foreseen) a letter from Lady Lundie. Further investigation, on the far more interesting subject of the expected news from Glasgow, revealed—nothing. The lawyer had not answered Sir Patrick’s inquiry by return of post.
“Is that a bad sign?” asked Blanche.
“It is a sign that something has happened,” answered her uncle. “Mr. Crum is possibly expecting to receive some special information, and is waiting on the chance of being able to communicate it. We must hope, my dear, in to-morrow’s post.”
“Open Lady Lundie’s letter in the mean time,” said Blanche. “Are you sure it is for you—and not for me?”
There was no doubt about it. Her ladyship’s reply was ominously addressed to her ladyship’s brother-in-law. “I know what that means.” said Blanche, eying her uncle eagerly while he was reading the letter. “If you mention Anne’s name you insult my step-mother. I have mentioned it freely. Lady Lundie is mortally offended with me.”
Rash judgment of youth! A lady who takes a dignified attitude, in a family emergency, is never mortally offended—she is only deeply grieved. Lady Lundie took a dignified attitude. “I well know,” wrote this estimable and Christian woman, “that I have been all along regarded in the light of an intruder by the family connections of my late beloved husband. But I was hardly prepared to find myself entirely shut out from all domestic confidence, at a time when some serious domestic catastrophe has but too evidently taken place. I have no desire, dear Sir Patrick, to intrude. Feeling it, however, to be quite inconsistent with a due regard for my own position—after what has happened—to correspond with Blanche,