By the first post in the morning came a letter from Louise. She wrote appealingly, touchingly. ’I know you couldn’t stand my mother, but do please have me. I like Sutton, and I like your house, and I like you. I promise faithfully nobody from home shall ever come to see me, so don’t be afraid. Of course if you won’t have me, somebody else will; I’ve got two hundred to choose from, but I’d rather come to you. Do write and say I may come. I’m so sorry I quarrelled with mother before you. I promise never to quarrel with you. I’m very good-tempered when I get what I want.’ With much more to the same effect.
‘We will have her,’ declared Mumford. ’Why not, if the old people keep away?—You are quite sure she sounds her h’s?’
’Oh, quite. She has been to pretty good schools, I think. And I dare say I could persuade her to get other dresses and hats.’
’Of course you could. Really, it seems almost a duty to take her— doesn’t it?’
So the matter was settled, and Mumford ran off gaily to catch his train.
Three days later Miss Derrick arrived, bringing with her something like half-a-ton of luggage. She bounded up the doorsteps, and, meeting Mrs. Mumford in the hall, kissed her fervently.
’I’ve got such heaps to tell you Mr. Higgins has given me twenty pounds to go on with—for myself; I mean; of course he’ll pay everything else. How delighted I am to be here! Please pay the cabman I’ve got no change.’
A few hours before this there had come a letter from Mrs. Higgins; better written and spelt than would have seemed likely.
‘Dear Mrs. Mumford,’ it ran, ’L. is coming to-morrow morning, and I hope you won’t repent. There’s just one thing I meant to have said to you but forgot, so I’ll say it now. If it should happen that any gentleman of your acquaintance takes a fancy to L., and if it should come to anything, I’m sure both Mr. H. and me would be most thankful, and Mr. H. would behave handsome to her. And what’s more, I’m sure he would be only too glad to show in a handsome way the thanks he would owe to you and Mr. M.—Very truly yours, Susan H. Higgins.’
‘Runnymede’ (so the Mumfords’ house was named) stood on its own little plot of ground in one of the tree-shadowed roads which persuade the inhabitants of Sutton that they live in the country. It was of red brick, and double-fronted, with a porch of wood and stucco; bay windows on one side of the entrance, and flat on the other, made a contrast pleasing to the suburban eye. The little front garden had a close fence of unpainted lath, a characteristic of the neighbourhood. At the back of the house lay a long, narrow lawn, bordered with flower-beds, and shaded at the far end by a fine horse-chestnut.