A few weeks after her return, Mrs. Barton had written to Arthur, acquainting him with the fact of Edith’s being in the country, and certain circumstances connected with the death of Sir Jasper Coleman, and wound up by giving him a special invitation to Chowringee for a few weeks. This she had done out of kindness to Edith, for she had some suspicion of how that young lady might be influenced by the presence of the playmate of her childhood.
Carlton received this intelligence with the utmost astonishment. He had been in complete ignorance of the Baronet’s death and the changes that had taken place at Vellenaux. His last two letters to Edith had remained unanswered, or at least he had not received them. But he little knew that Mrs. Fraudhurst had taken possession of the post bag and abstracted therefrom Edith’s letters to him as well as those he had sent to her. She had some apprehensions that he might contrive to make his appearance at Vellenaux at a time it was least expected or desired by either herself or Sir Ralph Coleman. His next feeling was that of joy at the thought of again meeting her, and at the idea that she was to remain in the same country perhaps for several years. As has been mentioned before, no direct words of love had passed between them, and it was not until the mighty ocean had divided them that he had realized how dear she was to him, or the strength or depth of his love for her. In his heart he secretly rejoiced that Sir Jasper’s estate had passed into other hands, for what chance had he, a poor Lieutenant of Dragoons, in aspiring to the hand of the beautiful Edith, heiress of Vellenaux.