“And you will let me have Mary at Redford?”
“Oh, yes! She will not want to go, but I shall make her.”
“And do not tell her more than you can help about this little private transaction. She might feel—”
“I will tell her nothing that is likely to vex her.”
“Do not—pray do not. Only take these sordid worries off her shoulders, and give her what she needs, and don’t let her toil and moil. Remember, it is for her I do it.” There was a little sting in that last remark, but he was too happy to feel it.
Now, what to do for Rose.
Rose had written warm congratulations to her sister, without mentioning any desire for a personal interview. Ever since her marriage, she had refrained from giving invitations to her family, leaving the initiative in social matters to them—a mark of consideration and good taste on her part which they had quite approved of; and intercourse had been limited to afternoon calls, more or less affectionate and informal, but stopping short at meals in common under the roof of either party. Now, however, Deb craved for a fuller sympathy with the sweetest-tempered and kindest-hearted of her sisters, and now it seemed so perfectly easy to go to her house in pursuit of it. She despatched an impulsive note:
“Dearest,—I want a quiet talk with you about all that has happened. May I come to lunch tomorrow, so as to make a long afternoon of it? If not convenient, fix a day to lunch with me; but I am not so tied as you are, and besides, I should like to have Peter’s advice on one or two little matters of business, if it would not bother him—of course, after he comes from town. Don’t keep him at home on purpose.”
To which Rose replied by telegram:
“Shall expect you early tomorrow for a long day. Peter delighted to place himself at your disposal.”
So Deb set off next morning, full of benevolent intentions, to gather poor humdrum Rose and her (in his way) truly worthy husband into the sphere of her golden prosperity. Also, incidentally, to warm herself in the light of faithful and familiar eyes. Since her final dismissal of Claud Dalzell—although she was satisfied with that act, and ready to repeat it again, if necessary—she had been conscious of a personal loneliness, not sensibly mitigated by her crowd-attracting wealth. “Someone of my own” was the want of her warm heart.
And Rose, with no petty grudge for past short-comings, answered that need with open arms. Never was hostess more cordial to honoured guest. Peter also was at home. He had been to town and back again, and now stood upon his spotless doorstep, and anon upon his handsome drawing-room hearthrug, determined that his house should lack nothing befitting the great occasion. It was all in gala dress—newly-arranged flowers, festive lunch-table, the best foot foremost; and yet, whereas there was no hiding the self-seeker in the ingratiating Bennet Goldsworthy, there was no finding him in this proud host and husband, whose desire was only to do his dear wife credit.