“It would indeed,” said I. “The only question is whether Tufton would really like this Red Cross Saint you’ll have provided for him.”
“In case he does not,” said Betty, “you can provide him with a refuge as you are doing now.”
She rose from the table, announcing her intention of going straight to the hospital. I realised with a pang that breakfast was over; that I had enjoyed a delectable meal; that, by some sort of dainty miracle, she had bemused me into eating and drinking twice my ordinary ration; that she had inveigled me into talking— a thing I have never done during breakfast for years—it is as much as Marigold’s ugly head is worth to address a remark to me during the unsympathetic duty—why, if my poached egg regards me with too aggressive a pinkiness, I want to slap it—and into talking about those confounded Tuftons with a gusto only provoked by a glass or two of impeccable port after a good dinner. One would have thought, considering the anguished scene of the night before, that it would have been one of the most miserably impossible tete-a-tete breakfasts in the whole range of such notoriously ghastly meals. But here was Betty, serene and smiling, as though she had been accustomed to breakfast with me every morning of her life, off to the hospital, with a hard little idea in her humorous head concerning Mrs. Tufton’s conversion.
The only sign she gave of last night’s storm was when, by way of good-bye, she bent down and kissed my cheek.
“You know,” she said, “I love you too much to thank you.”
And she went off with her brave little head in the air.
In the afternoon I went to Wellings Park. Sir Anthony was away, but Lady Fenimore was in. She showed me a letter she had received from Betty in reply to her letter of condolence:
“It is good to realise one has such rocks to lean on. You long to help and comfort me. Well, I’ll tell you how to do it. You just forget. Leave it to me to do all the remembering.
On the first of July there was forwarded to me from the club a letter in an unknown handwriting. I had to turn to the signature to discover the identity of my correspondent. It was Reggie Dacre, Colonel Dacre, whom I had met in London a couple of months before. As it tells its own little story, I transcribe it.
“Dear Major Meredyth:
“I should like to confirm by the following anecdote, which is going the round of the Brigade, what I recently told you about our friend Boyce. I shouldn’t worry you, but I feel that if one has cast an unjustifiable slur on a brother-officer’s honour—and I can’t tell you how the thing has lain on my conscience—one shouldn’t leave a stone unturned to rehabilitate him, even in the eyes of one person.