Armed with her portfolio and writing materials Nora returned to the guest chamber, which was her temporary abode. The motherly Kate was waiting with an appetizing lunch on a neat tray. What a good friend she had been. She would be genuinely sorry to part with Kate. She must ask her to give her some address that would always reach her. Who knew, years hence when she returned to England, but what she might afford to set up a modest flat with Kate to manage things for her. She would speak to her on the morrow—after the will was read.
“Ah, Kate, you knew just what would tempt me. Thank you so much! By the way, has Miss Pringle sent any message?”
“Yes, Miss. Miss Pringle stopped on her way to the village a moment ago. She was with Mrs. Hubbard and had only a moment. I was to tell you that she would call this afternoon and hoped you could see her. I told her, Miss, that the doctor had said you were not to go to the burial. She will come while they are away.”
“Let me know the moment she comes. I want to see her very much.”
Miss Pringle was the only woman friend Nora had made in the years of her sojourn at Tunbridge Wells. They had little in common beyond the fellow-feeling that binds those in bondage. Miss Pringle was also a companion. Her task mistress, Mrs. Hubbard, was in Nora’s opinion, about as stolidly brainless as a woman could well be. Miss Pringle was always lauding her kindness. But then Miss Pringle had been a companion to various rich women for thirty years. Nora had her own ideas as to the value of the opinions of any woman who had been in slavery for thirty years.
Having eaten her luncheon and written her letter to her brother, she felt glad to rest once more. How wise the doctor had been to forbid her to go to the funeral, and how grateful she was that he had forbidden it, was her last waking thought.
It was well on to three o’clock when Miss Pringle made her careful way up the path that led to the late Miss Wickham’s door.
“How strange it will be not to find her in her own drawing-room!” she reflected. “I don’t recall that Nora Marsh and I have ever been alone together for two consecutive minutes in our lives. I simply couldn’t have stood it.”
“I’ll tell Miss Marsh you’re here, Miss Pringle,” said Kate, at the door.
“How is she to-day, Kate?”
“Still tired out, poor thing. The doctor made her promise to lie down directly after she had had a bite of luncheon. But she said I was to let her know the moment you came, Miss.”
“I’m very glad she didn’t go to the funeral.”
“Dr. Evans simply wouldn’t hear of it, Miss.”
“I wonder how she stood it all these months, waiting on Miss Wickham hand and foot. She should have been made to have a professional nurse.”
“It wasn’t very easy to make Miss Wickham have anything she had made up her mind not to, you know that, Miss,” said Kate as she led the way to the drawing-room. “Miss Marsh slept in Miss Wickham’s room towards the last, and the moment she fell asleep Miss Wickham would have her up because her pillow wanted shaking or she was thirsty, or something.”