She had never answered this letter; she reproached herself for not having done so. Mavis sat down to write a few words, which would reach Windebank by the first post in the morning, when she found that the ink had dried in the pot. She rang the bell. While waiting, a vision of the piteous look on Harold’s face when he had told her of his love came into her mind. Accompanying this was the recollection of the cause of which her friendship with Harold was an effect. Hatred of the Devitts possessed her. She remembered, and rejoiced, that it was now in her power to be revenged for all she believed she had suffered at their hands. So black was the quality of this hate that she wondered why she had delayed so long. When the ink was brought, it was to Harold that she was about to write; Windebank was forgotten.
As Mavis wrote the day of the month at the head of the page, she seemed to hear echoes of Harold’s resonant voice vibrating with love for her. She sighed and put down her pen. If only she were less infirm of purpose. Her hesitations were interrupted by Mrs Budd bringing in a letter for Mavis that the postman had just left. It was from Mrs Trivett. It described with a wealth of detail a visit that the writer had paid to Pennington Churchyard, where she had taken flowers to lay on the little grave. Certain nerves in the bereaved mother’s face quivered as she read. Memories of the long-drawn agony which had followed upon her boy’s death crowded into her mind. Mavis hardened her heart.
Upon a day on which the trees and hedges were again frocked in spring finery in honour of approaching summer, Mrs Devitt was sitting with her sister in the drawing-room of Melkbridge House. Mrs Devitt was trying to fix her mind on an article in one of the monthly reviews dealing with the voluntary limitation of families on the part of married folk. Mrs Devitt could not give her usual stolid attention to her reading, because, now and again, her thoughts wandered to an interview between her husband and Lowther which was taking place in the library downstairs. This private talk between father and son was on the subject of certain snares which beset the feet of moneyed youth when in London, and in which the unhappy Lowther had been caught. Mrs Devitt was sufficiently vexed at the prospect of her husband having to fork out some hundreds of pounds, without the further promise of revelations in which light-hearted, lighter living young women were concerned. Debts were forgivable, perhaps excusable, in a young gentleman of Lowther’s standing, but immorality, in Mrs Devitt’s eyes, was a horse of quite another colour; anything of this nature acted upon Mrs Devitt’s susceptibilities much in the same way as seeing red afreets an angry bull.
Miss Spraggs, whom the last eighteen months had aged in appearance, looked up from the rough draft of a letter she was composing.