Monica, when she heard of this project, was at first moderately grateful, but in a day or two showed by reviving strength and spirits that she looked forward eagerly to the departure. Her husband advertised for lodgings in St. Peter Port; he would not face the disagreeable chances of a hotel. In a fortnight’s time all their preparations were made. During their absence, which might extend over a month, Virginia was to live at Herne Hill, in supervision of the two servants.
On the last Sunday Monica went to see her friends in Queen’s Road. Widdowson was ashamed to offer an objection; he much disliked her going there alone, but disliked equally the thought of accompanying her, for at Miss Barfoot’s he could not pretend to sit, stand, or converse with ease.
It happened that Mrs. Cosgrove was again calling. On the first occasion of meeting with Monica this lady paid her no particular attention; to-day she addressed her in a friendly manner, and their conversation led to the discovery that both of them were about to spend the ensuing month in the same place. Mrs. Cosgrove hoped they might occasionally see each other.
Of this coincidence Monica thought better to say nothing on her return home. She could not be sure that her husband might not, at the last moment, decide to stay at Herne Hill rather than incur the risk of her meeting an acquaintance in Guernsey. On this point he could not be trusted to exercise common sense. For the first time Monica had a secret she desired to keep from him, and the necessity was one which could not but have an unfavourable effect on her manner of regarding Widdowson. They were to start on Monday evening. Through the day her mind was divided between joy in the thought of seeing a new part of the world and a sense of weary dislike for her home. She had not understood until now how terrible would be the prospect of living here for a long time with no companionship but her husband’s. On the return that prospect would lie before her. But no; their way of life must somehow be modified; on that she was resolved.
HEALTH FROM THE SEA
From Herne Hill to St. Peter Port was a change which made of Monica a new creature. The weather could not have been more propitious; day after day of still air and magnificent sky, with temperature which made a brisk walk at any hour thoroughly enjoyable, yet allowed one to sit at ease in the midday sunshine. Their lodgings were in the best part of the town, high up, looking forth over blue sea to the cliffs of Sark. Widdowson congratulated himself on having taken this step; it was like a revival of his honeymoon; never since their settling down at home had Monica been so grateful, so affectionate. Why, his wife was what he had thought her from the first, perfect in every wifely attribute. How lovely she looked as she sat down to the breakfast-table, after breathing sea air at the open windows, in her charming dress, her black hair arranged in some new fashion just to please him! Or when she walked with him about the quays, obviously admired by men who passed them. Or when she seated herself in the open carriage for a drive which would warm her cheeks and make her lips redder and sweeter.