As she drove homewards to Walpole Lodge she felt that her schemes were in a fair way for success. She was not going to let Maurice know of them too soon; by-and-by, when all was settled, she would tell him; she would keep it till then as a pleasant surprise.
All the same, she had been unable to refrain from telling Helen Romer something of what was in her mind.
“If John does not marry, he might perhaps make Maurice his agent and let him live at Kynaston,” she had said to her a few days ago when they had been speaking of old Mr. Harlowe’s illness.
“How would Maurice like to leave the army?” Helen had asked.
“If he marries, he must do so,” his mother had replied, significantly; and Helen’s heart had beat high with hope and triumph.
Again to-day, on her way to her eldest son’s rooms, she had stopped at Princes Gate and had alluded to it.
“I am on my way to see Sir John; I shall sound him about his intentions with regard to Kynaston, but, of course, I must go to work cautiously;” and Helen had perfectly understood that she herself had entered into the old lady’s scheme for her younger son’s future.
Sitting alone in the hushed house, where the doctors are coming and going in the darkened room above, Helen feels that at last the reward of all her long waiting may be at hand. Love and wealth at last seemed to beckon to her. Her grandfather dead; his fortune hers; and this offer of a home at Kynaston, which Maurice himself would be sure to like so much—everything good seemed coming to her at last.
And there was something about the idea of living at Kynaston that gratified her particularly. Helen had not forgotten the week at Shadonake. Too surely had her woman’s instinct told her that Maurice and Vera had been drawn to each other by a strong and mutual attraction. The wildest jealousy and hatred against Vera burnt fiercely in her lawless, untutored heart. She hated her, for she knew that Maurice loved her. To live thus under her very eyes as Maurice’s wife, in the very house her rival herself had once been on the point of inhabiting, was a notion that commended itself to her with all the sweetness of gratified revenge, with all the charm of flaunting her success and triumph in the face of the other woman’s failure which is dear to such a nature as Helen’s.
She alone, of all those who had heard of Vera’s broken engagement, had divined its true cause. She loved Maurice—that was plain to Helen; that was why she had thrown over Sir John, and at her heart Helen despised her for it. A woman must be a fool indeed to wreck herself at the last moment for a merely sentimental reason. There was much, however, that was incomprehensible to Helen Romer in the situation of things, which she only half understood.