He rode over to Floodborough, and saw Mrs. Flood Jones. Mrs. Flood Jones, however, received him very coldly; and Mary did not appear. Mary had communicated to her mother her resolutions as to her future life. “The fact is, mamma, I love him. I cannot help it. If he ever chooses to come for me, here I am. If he does not, I will bear it as well as I can. It may be very mean of me, but it’s true.”
Troubles at Loughlinter
There was a dull house at Loughlinter during the greater part of this autumn. A few men went down for the grouse shooting late in the season; but they stayed but a short time, and when they went Lady Laura was left alone with her husband. Mr. Kennedy had explained to his wife, more than once, that though he understood the duties of hospitality and enjoyed the performance of them, he had not married with the intention of living in a whirlwind. He was disposed to think that the whirlwind had hitherto been too predominant, and had said so very plainly with a good deal of marital authority. This autumn and winter were to be devoted to the cultivation of proper relations between him and his wife. “Does that mean Darby and Joan?” his wife had asked him, when the proposition was made to her. “It means mutual regard and esteem,” replied Mr. Kennedy in his most solemn tone, “and I trust that such mutual regard and esteem between us may yet be possible.” When Lady Laura showed him a letter from her brother, received some weeks after this conversation, in which Lord Chiltern expressed his intention of coming to Loughlinter for Christmas, he returned the note to his wife without a word. He suspected that she had made the arrangement without asking him, and was angry; but he would not tell her that her brother would not be welcome at his house. “It is not my doing,” she said, when she saw the frown on his brow.
“I said nothing about anybody’s doing,” he replied.
“I will write to Oswald and bid him not come, if you wish it. Of course you can understand why he is coming.”
“Not to see me, I am sure,” said Mr. Kennedy.
“Nor me,” replied Lady Laura. “He is coming because my friend Violet Effingham will be here.”
“Miss Effingham! Why was I not told of this? I knew nothing of Miss Effingham’s coming.”
“Robert, it was settled in your own presence last July.”
“I deny it.”
Then Lady Laura rose up, very haughty in her gait and with something of fire in her eye, and silently left the room. Mr. Kennedy, when he found himself alone, was very unhappy. Looking back in his mind to the summer weeks in London, he remembered that his wife had told Violet that she was to spend her Christmas at Loughlinter, that he himself had given a muttered assent and that Violet,—as far as he could remember,—had made no reply. It had been one of those things which are so often