“Dorothy!” in a tone of remonstrance.
“Would you care for some tea, Mrs. Wickham?” Nora broke in. To her the whole scene was positively indecent. She longed to make her escape, but felt that it would be considered part of her duty to remain as long as the Wickhams stayed. As she was about to ring the bell, Mrs. Wickham stopped her with a gesture.
“Well, you might send some in so that it’ll be ready when Mr. Wynne comes. We’ll ring for you, shall we?” she added. “I dare say you’ve got one or two things you want to do now.”
“Very good, Mrs. Wickham.”
Nora could feel her cheeks burn as she left the room. But she was thankful to escape. Outside the door she hesitated for a moment. There was no good in rejoining Miss Pringle as yet. She had no news for her. She hoped Mr. Wynne would not be delayed much longer. The Wickhams could not possibly be more anxious to get back to London than she was to have them go. How gratuitously insolent that woman was. Thank Heaven, she need never see her again after to-day. Of course, she was furious because she suspected that the despised companion was to be a beneficiary under the will. How could anyone be so mean as to begrudge her her well-earned share in so large a fortune! Well, the coming hour would tell the tale.
On the table in her room was the letter to her brother which she had forgotten to send to the post. Slipping down the stairs again, she went in search of Kate to see if it were too late to send it to the village. Now that it was written, she had almost a superstitions feeling that it was important that it should catch the first foreign mail.
As she passed the door of the drawing-room, she could hear James Wickham’s voice raised above its normal pitch. Were they already quarreling over the spoils!
Nora’s surmise had been very nearly correct; the Wickhams were quarreling, but not, as yet, over the spoils. James Wickham had waited until the door had closed behind his aunt’s companion to rebuke his wife’s untimely frivolity.
“I say, Dorothy, you oughtn’t to be facetious before Miss Marsh. She was extremely attached to Aunt Louisa.”
“Oh, what nonsense!” jeered Mrs. Wickham, throwing herself pettishly into a chair. “I find it’s always a very good rule to judge people by oneself, and I’m positive she was just longing for the old lady to die.”
“She was awfully upset at the end, you know that yourself.”
“Nerves! Men are so idiotic. They never understand that there are tears and tears. I cried myself, and Heaven knows I didn’t regret her death.”
“My dear Dorothy, you oughtn’t to say that.”
“Why not?” retorted his wife. “It’s perfectly true. Aunt Louisa was a detestable person and no one would have stood her for a minute if she hadn’t had money. I can’t see the use of being a hypocrite now that it can’t make any difference either way. Oh, why doesn’t that man hurry up!” She resumed once more her impatient walk about the room.