“If you loved, you loved,” pursued Lady Arabella crisply. “And the death of half a dozen sisters wouldn’t have been allowed to interfere with the proceedings.”
Gillian smiled a little.
“It wasn’t only that. It was Michael’s bitter disappointment in Magda, I think, quite as much as the fact that, indirectly, he held her responsible for June’s death.”
“It’s ridiculous to try and foist Mrs. Storran’s death on to Magda,” fumed Lady Arabella restively. “If she hadn’t the physical health to have a good, hearty baby successfully, she shouldn’t have attempted it. That’s all! . . . And then those two idiots—Magda and Michael! Of course he must needs shoot off abroad, and equally of course she must be out of the way in a sisterhood when he comes rushing back—as he will do!”—with a grim smile.
“He hasn’t done yet,” Gillian pointed out.
“I give him precisely six months, my dear, before he finds out that, sister or no sister, he can’t live without Magda. Michael Quarrington’s got too much good red blood in his veins to live the life of a hermit. He’s a man, thank goodness, not a mystical dreamer like Hugh Vallincourt. And he’ll come back to his mate as surely as the sun will rise to-morrow.”
“I wish I felt as confident as you do.”
“I wish I could make sure of putting my hand on Magda when he comes,” grumbled Lady Arabella. “That’s the hitch I’m afraid of! If only she hadn’t been so precipitate—only waited a bit for him to come back to her.”
“I don’t agree with you,” rapped out Gillian smartly. “Women are much too ready to do the patient Griselda stunt. I think”—with a vicious little nod of her brown head—“it would do Michael all the good in the world to come back and want Magda—want her badly. And find he couldn’t get her! So there!”
Lady Arabella regarded her with astonishment, then broke into a delighted chuckle.
“Upon my word! If a tame dove had suddenly turned round and pecked at me, I couldn’t have been more surprised! I didn’t know you had so much of the leaven of malice and wickedness in you, Gillian!”
Gillian, a little flushed and feeling, in truth, rather surprised at herself for her sudden heat, smiled back at her.
“But I should have thought your opinion would have been very much the same as mine. I never expected you’d want Magda to sit down and twiddle her thumbs till Michael chose to come back to her.”
Lady Arabella sighed.
“I don’t. Not really. Only I want them to be happy,” she said a little sadly. “Love is such a rare thing—love like theirs. And it’s hard that Magda should lose the beauty and happiness of it all because of mistakes she made before she found herself, so to speak.”
Gillian nodded soberly. Lady Arabella had voiced precisely her own feeling in the matter. It was hard! And yet it was only the fulfilment of the immutable law: Who breaks, pays.