By and by he went on to speak of our mutual work, and here again he more than contented me.
‘I do not mean to rob the poor people of their nurse, Ursula,’ he said presently. ’When you come to Gladwyn as its mistress, I hope we shall work together as we do now.’
I told him I hoped so too; that I never wished to lay down my work.
‘You are quite right, dear,’ he answered cheerfully. ’We will not be selfish in our happiness. True, your work must be in limits. When I come home I shall want to see my wife’s face. No,’ rather jealously, ’I could not spare you of an evening, and in the morning there will be household duties. You must not undertake too much, Ursula.’
I told Giles, rather demurely, that there was plenty of time for the consideration of this point. He was inclined to bridge over the present in a man’s usual fashion, but my new position was too overwhelming for me to look beyond the deep abiding consciousness that Giles loved me and looked to me for happiness.
So I turned a deaf ear when he asked me presently if I should mind Lady Betty sharing our home; ‘for,’ he went on, ’the poor child has no other home, and she is so feather-headed that no sensible man will think of marrying her.’ It was not my place to enlighten Giles about Claude, but I thought it very improbable that Lady Betty would be long at Gladwyn; but I was a little oppressed by this sort of talk, and yet unwilling that he should notice my shyness, so I took the opportunity of saying it was tea-time, and did he not think that Gladys and Eric had been talking long enough?
He seemed unwilling to let me go, but I pleaded my nurse’s duties, and then he told me, laughing, that I was a wilful woman, and that I might send Eric to him. As it happened, Eric was coming in search of Giles, and I found him in the passage.
Gladys was lying on her couch, looking worn out with happiness. She was beginning to speak about Eric, when something in my face seemed to distract her. She watched me closely for a moment, then threw her arms round me and drew my head on her shoulder.
‘Is it so, Ursula? Oh, my dear dear sister! I am so glad!’ And she seemed to understand without a word when my over-excited feelings found vent in a flood of nervous tears, for she only kissed me quietly, and stroked my hair, until I was relieved and happy again.
‘Dear Ursula,’ she whispered, ’how can I help being glad, for Giles’s sake?’
‘And not for mine?’ drying my eyes, and feeling very much ashamed of myself.
‘Ah, you will see how good Giles will be,’ was her reply to this. ’You will be a happy woman, Ursula. You are exactly suited to each other.’ And I knew she was right.
Max’s turn came presently.
I was sitting alone in the drawing-room before dinner. Giles had brought me some flowers, and had rushed off to dress himself; and I was looking out on the garden and the strip of blue sky, and buried in a happy reverie, when two hands suddenly lifted me up, and a brown beard brushed my face.