“You seemed to notice her a good deal.”
“Naturally I did, being so anxious that you should find a friend and companion.”
“And who is she, I should like to know?” said Harriet, with perfection of subdued acrimony. “How can I tell that she’s a proper person to be a friend to me? I know what her mother was, at all events.”
“Her mother? What do you know of her mother?”
Julian had never known the whole story of that scar on his wife’s forehead.
“Never mind,” said Harriet, nodding significantly.
“I have no idea what you mean,” Julian returned. “At all events I can trust Waymark, and I know very well he would not have brought her here, if she hadn’t been a proper person for you to know. But come,” he added quickly, making an effort to dismiss the disagreeable tone between them, “there’s surely no need for us to talk like this, Harriet. I am sure you will like her, when you know her better. Promise me that you will try, dear. You are so lonely, and it would rejoice me so to feel that you had a friend to help you and to be a comfort to you. At all events you will judge her on her own merits, won’t you, and put aside all kind of prejudice?”
“I haven’t said I shouldn’t; but I suppose I must get to know her first?”
Ominous as such a commencement would have been under any other circumstances, Julian was so prepared for more decided hostility, that he was even hopeful. When he met Waymark next, the change in his manner was obvious; he was almost cheerful once more. And the improvement held its ground as the next two or three weeks went by. Ida came to Beaufort Street often, and Julian was able to use the freedom he thus obtained to spend more time in Waymark’s society. The latter noticed the change in him with surprise.
“Things go well still?” he would ask, when Julian came in of an evening.
“Very well indeed. Harriet hasn’t been out one night this week.”
“And you think it will last?”
“I have good hope.”
They did not speak much of Ida, however. It was only when three weeks had gone by that Julian asked one night, with some hesitation in putting the question, whether Waymark saw her often.
“Pretty often,” was the reply. “I am her tutor, in a sort of way. We read together, and that kind of thing.”
“At her lodgings?”
“Yes. Does it seem a queer arrangement?”
“She seems very intelligent,” said Julian, letting the question pass by, and speaking with some constraint. “Isn’t it a pity that she can’t find some employment better suited to her?”
“I don’t see what is open. Could you suggest anything?”
Julian was silent.
“In any case, it won’t last very long, I suppose?” he said, looking up with a smile which was rather a trembling of the lip.
They gazed at each other for a moment.