The reply was forced from her.
“I certainly think it is.”
“May I ask you if you have reasoned with your brother about it?”
“I haven’t had any communication with him since—since we knew of this.” She paused; but, before Mallard had shown an intention to speak, added abruptly, “I should have thought that Miss Doran might have been trusted to understand and respect your wishes.”
“Miss Doran knows my wishes,” he answered drily, “but I haven’t insisted upon them to her, and am not disposed to do so.”
“Would it not be very simple and natural if you did?”
The look he gave her was stern all but to anger.
“It wouldn’t be a very pleasant task to me, Mrs. Baske, to lay before her my strongest arguments against her marrying Mr. Elgar. And if I don’t do that, it seems to me that it is better to let her know my wishes through Mrs. Lessingham. As you say, it is to be hoped she will understand and respect them.”
He rose from his chair. For some reason, Miriam could not utter the words that one part of her prompted. She wished to assure him that she would do her best with Reuben, but at the same time she resented his mode of addressing her, and the conflict made her tongue-tied.
“I won’t occupy more of your time, Mrs. Baske.”
She would have begged him to resume his seat. The conversation had been so short; she wanted to hear him speak more freely. But her request, she knew, would be disregarded With an effort, she succeeded in holding out her hand Mallard held it lightly for an instant.
“I will write to him,” fell from her lips, when already he had turned to the door. “If necessary, I will go and see him.”
“Thank you,” he replied with civility, and left her.
ON THE WINGS OF THE MORNING
“I cannot answer your long letter; to such correspondence there is no end. Come and spend a day here with us; I promise to listen patiently, and you shall hear how things are beginning to shape themselves in my mind, now I have had leisure to reflect. Cecily sends a line. Do come. Take the early boat on Monday; Spence will give you all particulars, and see you off at Santa Lucia. We really have some very sober plans, not unapproved by Mrs. Lessingham. Will meet you at the Marina.”
Miriam received this on Sunday morning, and went to her own room to read it. The few lines of Cecily’s writing which were enclosed, she glanced over with careless eye; yet not with mere carelessness either, but as if something of aversion disinclined her to peruse them attentively. That sheet she at once laid aside; Reuben’s note she still held in her hand, and kept re-reading it.