It was a relief to her when the thing was done, and the note sent off beyond the possibility of recall.
After that there had been no longer any leisure for her doubting thoughts. There was her sister’s delighted excitement, Mrs. Daintree’s oppressive astonishment, and even Eustace’s calmer satisfaction in her bright prospects, to occupy and divert her thoughts. Then there came her lover himself, tender and grateful, and with so worshipful a respect in every word and action that the most sensitive woman could scarcely have been ruffled or alarmed by the prospects of so deferential a husband.
In a few days Vera became reconciled to her new position, which was in truth a very pleasant one to her. There were the congratulations of friends and acquaintances to be responded to; the pleasant flutter of adulation that surrounded her once more; the little daily excitement of John Kynaston’s visits—all this made her happy and perfectly satisfied with the wisdom of her decision.
Only one thing vexed her.
“What will your mother say, John?” she had asked the very first day she had been engaged to him.
“It will not make much difference to me, dearest, whatever she may say.”
Nor in truth would it, for Sir John, as we have seen, had never been a devoted son, nor had he ever given his confidence to his mother; he had always gone his own way independently of her.
“But it must needs make a difference to me,” Vera had insisted. “You have written to her, of course.”
“Oh, yes; I wrote and told her I was engaged to you.”
“And she has not written?”
“Yes, there was a message for you—her love or something.”
Sir John evidently did not consider the subject of much importance. But Vera was hurt that Lady Kynaston had not written to her.
“I will never enter any family where I am not welcome,” she had said to her lover, proudly.
And then Sir John had taken fright, for she was so precious to him that the fear of losing her was becoming almost as a nightmare to him, and, possibly, at the bottom of his heart he knew how feeble was his hold over her. He had written off to his mother that day a letter that was almost a command, and had told her to write to Vera.
This letter was not likely to prepossess Lady Kynaston, who was a masterful little lady herself, in her daughter-in-law’s favour; it did more harm than good. She had obeyed her son, it is true, because he was the head of the family, and because she stood in awe of him; but the letter, thus written under compulsion, was not kind—it was not even just.
“Horrid girl!” had said Lady Kynaston, angrily, to herself, as she had sat down to her writing-table to fulfil her son’s mandate. “It is not likely that I can be very loving to her—some wretched, second-rate girl, evidently—for not even Caroline Miller who, goodness knows, rakes up all the odds and ends of society—ever heard of her before!”