Personally, I shall be glad to see you as I have always been. It seems odd to me that I cannot write in warmer tones to my father’s and mother’s oldest friend. Of course, you will understand that though I shall readily see you if you call, I cannot ask you to stay. In the first place, I am not now living in my own house. I am staying with Mrs Stanbury, and the place is called the Clock House.
Yours very sincerely,
The Clock House, Nuncombe Putney, Monday.’
Soon after she had written it, Nora came into her room, and at once asked concerning the letter which she had seen delivered to her sister that morning.
‘It was from Colonel Osborne,’ said Mrs Trevelyan.
‘From Colonel Osborne! How very wrong!’
’I don’t see that it is wrong at all. Because Louis is foolish and mad, that cannot make another man wrong for doing the most ordinary thing in the world.’
‘I had hoped it had been from Louis,’ said Nora.
’Oh dear, no. He is by no means so considerate. I do not suppose I shall hear from him, till he chooses to give some fresh order about myself or my child. He will hardly trouble himself to write to me, unless he take up some new freak to show me that he is my master.
‘And what does Colonel Osborne say?’
‘He is coming here.’
‘Coming here?’ almost shouted Nora.
’Yes; absolutely here. Does it sound to you as if Lucifer himself were about to show his face. The fact is he happens to have a friend in the neighbourhood whom he has long promised to visit; and as he must be at Lessboro’, he does not choose to go away without the compliment of a call. It will be as much to you as to me.’
‘I don’t want to see him in the least,’ said Nora.
’There is his letter. As you seem to be so suspicious you had better read it.’
Then Nora read it.
‘And there is a copy of my answer,’ said Mrs Trevelyan. ’I shall keep both, because I know so well what ill-natured things people will say.’
‘Dear Emily, do not send it,’ said Nora.
’Indeed I shall. I will not be frightened by bugbears And I will not be driven to confess to any man on earth that I am afraid to see him. Why should I be afraid of Colonel Osborne? I will not submit to acknowledge that there can be any danger in Colonel Osborne. Were I to do so I should be repeating the insult against myself. If my husband wished to guide me in such matters why did he not stay with me?’
Then she went out into the village and posted the letter. Nora meanwhile was thinking whether she would call in the assistance of Priscilla Stanbury; but she did not like to take any such a step in opposition to her sister.
SHEWING HOW COLONEL OSBORNE WENT TO NUNCOMBE PUTNEY