The assembly was longer than usual in dispersing. When all were gone, Miss Barfoot listened for a footstep in the other room. As she could detect no sound, she went to see if Rhoda was there or not.
Yes; Rhoda was sitting in a thoughtful attitude. She looked up, smiled, and came a few paces forward.
‘It was very good.’
‘I thought it would please you.’
Miss Barfoot drew nearer, and added,—
’It was addressed to you. It seemed to me that you had forgotten how I really thought about these things.’
‘I have been ill-tempered,’ Rhoda replied. ’Obstinacy is one of my faults.’
Their eyes met.
‘I believe,’ continued Rhoda, ’that I ought to ask your pardon. Right or wrong, I behaved in an unmannerly way.’
‘Yes, I think you did.’
Rhoda smiled, bending her head to the rebuke.
‘And there’s the last of it,’ added Miss Barfoot. ’Let us kiss and be friends.’
When Barfoot made his next evening call Rhoda did not appear. He sat for some time in pleasant talk with his cousin, no reference whatever being made to Miss Nunn; then at length, beginning to fear that he would not see her, he inquired after her health. Miss Nunn was very well, answered the hostess, smiling.
‘Not at home this evening?’
‘Busy with some kind of study, I think.’
Plainly, the difference between these women had come to a happy end, as Barfoot foresaw that it would. He thought it better to make no mention of his meeting with Rhoda in the gardens.
’That was a very unpleasant affair that I saw your name connected with last week,’ he said presently.
‘It made me very miserable—ill indeed for a day or two.’
‘That was why you couldn’t see me?’
’But in your reply to my note you made no mention of the circumstances.’
Miss Barfoot kept silence; frowning slightly, she looked at the fire near which they were both sitting, for the weather had become very cold.
‘No doubt,’ pursued Everard, glancing at her, ’you refrained out of delicacy—on my account, I mean.’
‘Need we talk of it?’
’For a moment, please. You are very friendly with me nowadays, but I suppose your estimate of my character remains very much the same as years ago?’