“Never mind. It would remind me of home.”
“I suppose I shall have to stick it out at least a year, unless I can humbug the mater into sending me enough money to get back home with.”
“She won’t send you a penny—if she’s wise.”
“Oh, come now! Wouldn’t you chuck it if you could?”
“And acknowledge myself beaten,” said Nora, with a flash of spirit. “You don’t know,” she went on after ironing busily a moment, “what I went through before I came here. I tried to get another position as lady’s companion. I hung about the agents’ offices. I answered advertisements. Two people offered to take me; one without any salary, the other at ten shillings a week and my lunch. I, if you please, was to find myself in board, lodging and clothes on that magnificent sum! That settled me. I wrote Eddie and said I was coming. When I’d paid my fare, I had eight pounds in the world—after ten years with Miss Wickham. When he met me at the station at Dyer——”
“Depot; you forget.”
“My whole fortune consisted of seven dollars and thirty-five cents; I think it was thirty-five.”
“What about that wood you’re splitting, Reg?” said a voice from the doorway.
Eddie came in fumbling nervously in his pockets. He detested scenes and had some reason to think that he was having more than his share of them in the last few days.
“Has anyone seen my tobacco! Oh, here it is,” he said, taking his pouch from his pocket. “Come, Reg, you’d better be getting on with it.”
“Oh, Lord, is there no rest for the wicked?” exclaimed Hornby as he lounged lazily to the door.
“Don’t hurry yourself, will you?”
“Brilliant sarcasm is just flying about this house to-day,” was his parting shot as he banged the door behind him.
Nora understood perfectly that her brother had been forced to take a stand as a result of this last quarrel with Gertie. Well, she was glad of it. Things certainly could not go on in this way forever. Of course he would have to make a show, at least, of taking his wife’s part. But, equally of course, he would understand her position perfectly. However much his new life and his long absence from England might have changed him, at bottom their points of view were still the same. He and she, so to speak, spoke a common language; she and Gertie did not.
Gertie had probably been pouring out her accumulation of grievances to him for the last half hour. Now it was her turn. She would show that she was, as always, more than ready to meet Gertie half-way. It would be his affair to see that her advances were received in better part in future than they had been.
She went on busily with her ironing, waiting for him to begin. But Eddie seemed to experience a certain embarrassment in coming to the subject. While she took article after article from the clothes-basket at her side, he wandered about the room aimlessly, puffing at a pipe which seemed never to stay lighted.