The letter from Piet Cradock was not again referred to by either Nan or her father. The latter answered it in his own way after the lapse of a few weeks. He was of a peaceable, easy-going nature himself, and he did not anticipate any trouble with Nan’s husband. After all, the child’s reluctance to leave her home was perfectly natural. He, for his part, had never fully understood the attraction which his son-in-law had exercised upon her. He had been glad enough to have his favourite daughter provided for, but the actual parting with her had been a serious trouble to him, the most serious he had known for years, and he had been very far from desiring to quarrel with the Fate that had restored her to him.
He was comfortably convinced that Piet would understand all this. Moreover, the fellow was clearly very busy. All his energies seemed to be fully occupied. He would have but little time to spare for his wife, even if he had her at his side. No, on the whole, the Colonel was of opinion that Nan’s decision was a wise one, and it seemed to him that, upon reflection, his son-in-law could scarcely fail to agree with him.
Something of this he expressed in his letter when he eventually roused himself to reply to Piet’s invitation, and therewith he dismissed all further thought upon the subject from his mind. His darling had pleased herself all her life, and naturally she would continue to do so.
His letter went into silence, but there was nothing surprising in this fact. Piet was, of course, too busy to have any leisure for private affairs. The whole matter slid into the past with the utmost ease. No doubt he would come home some day, but very possibly not for years, and the Colonel was quite content with this vague prospect.
As for Nan, she flicked the matter from her with the utmost nonchalance. Since her father had undertaken to explain things, she did not even trouble herself to write an answer to her husband’s letter. That letter had, in fact, very deeply wounded her pride. It had been a command, and Nan was not accustomed to such treatment. Never, in all her unruly life, had she yielded obedience to any. No discipline had ever tamed her. She had been free, free as air, and she had not the vaguest intention of submitting herself to the authority of anyone. The bare idea was unthinkably repugnant to her, foreign to her whole nature.
So, with a fierce disgust, she cast from her all memory of that brief message that had come to her from the man who called himself her husband, who had actually dared to treat her as one having the right to control her actions. She could be a thousand times more arrogant than he when occasion served, and she had not the faintest intention of allowing herself to be fettered by any man’s tyranny.