Mrs. Mumford, foreseeing the difficulty of spending the next day at home, told her husband in the morning that she would have early luncheon and go to see Mrs. Grove.
’And I should like you to fetch me from there, after business, please.’
‘I will,’ answered Clarence readily. He mentally added a hope that his wife did not mean to supervise him henceforth and for ever. If so, their troubles were only beginning.
At breakfast, Louise continued to be discretion itself. She talked of her departure on the morrow as though it had long been a settled thing, and was quite unconnected with disagreeable circumstances. Only midway in the morning did Mrs. Mumford, who had been busy with her child, speak of the early luncheon and her journey to town. She hoped Miss Derrick would not mind being left alone.
‘Oh, don’t speak of it,’ answered Louise. ’I’ve lots to do. You’ll give my kind regards to Mrs. Grove?’
So they ate together at midday, rather silently, but with faces composed. And Emmeline, after a last look into the nursery, hastened away to catch her train. She had no misgivings; during her absence, all would be well as ever.
Louise passed the time without difficulty, and at seven o’clock made an excellent dinner. This evening no reply could be expected from Cobb, as he was not likely to have received her letter of last night till his return home from business. Still, there might be something from someone; she always looked eagerly for the postman.
The weather was gloomy. Not long after eight the housemaid brought in a lighted lamp, and set it, as usual, upon the little black four-legged table in the drawing-room. And in the same moment the knocker of the front door sounded a vigorous rat-tat-tat, a visitor’s summons.
‘It may be someone calling upon me,’ said Louise to the servant. ‘Let me know the name before you show anyone in.’
‘Of course, miss,’ replied the domestic, with pert familiarity, and took her time in arranging the shade of the lamp. When she returned from the door it was to announce, smilingly, that Mr. Cobb wished to see Miss Derrick.
‘Please to show him in.’
Louise stood in an attitude of joyous excitement, her eyes sparkling. But at the first glance she perceived that her lover’s mood was by no means correspondingly gay. Cobb stalked forward and kept a stern gaze upon her, but said nothing.
‘Well? You got my letter, I suppose?’
He had not been home since breakfast-time, so Louise’s appeal to him for advice lay waiting his arrival. Impatiently, she described the course of events. As soon as she had finished, Cobb threw his hat aside and addressed her harshly.
’I want to know what you mean by writing to your sister that you are going to marry Bowling. I saw your mother this morning, and that’s what she told me. It must have been only a day or two ago that you said that. Just explain, if you please. I’m about sick of this kind of thing, and I’ll have the truth out of you.’