‘What would I have given that he had never come!’
‘And yet,’ said Nora, ’what harm has he done? I wish he had not come, because, of course, people will talk! But nothing was more natural than that he should come over to see us when he was so near us.’
‘What do you mean?’
’You don’t believe all that? In the neighbourhood! I believe he came on purpose to see your sister, and I think that it was a dastardly and most ungentleman-like thing to do.’
‘I am quite sure you are wrong, then altogether wrong,’ said Nora.
’Very well. We must have our own opinions. I am glad you can be so charitable. But he should not have come here to this house, even though imperative business had brought him into the very village. But men in their vanity never think of the injury they may do to a woman’s name. Now I must go and write to my aunt. I am not going to have it said hereafter that I deceived her. And then I shall write to Hugh. Oh dear; oh dear!’
‘I am afraid we are a great trouble to you.’
’I will not deceive you, because I like you. This is a great trouble to me. I have meant to be so prudent, and with all my prudence I have not been able to keep clear of rocks. And I have been so indignant with Aunt Stanbury! Now I must go and eat humble-pie.’
Then she eat humble pie after the following fashion:
’Dear Aunt Stanbury
After what has passed between us, I think it right
to tell you that
Colonel Osborne has been at Nuncombe Putney, and that he called at the
Clock House this morning. We did not see him. But Mrs Trevelyan and
Miss Rowley, together, did see him. He remained here perhaps an hour.
’I should not have thought it necessary to mention this to you, the matter being one in which you are not concerned, were it not for our former correspondence. When I last wrote, I had no idea that he was coming nor had mamma. And when you first wrote, he was not even expected by Mrs Trevelyan. The man you wrote about, was another gentleman as I told you before. All this is most disagreeable, and tiresome and would be quite nonsensical, but that circumstances seem to make it necessary.
As for Colonel Osborne, I wish he had not been here; but his coming would do no harm only that it will be talked about.
I think you will understand how it is that I feel myself constrained to write to you. I do hope that you will spare mamma, who is disturbed and harassed when she gets angry letters. If you have anything to say to myself, I don’t mind it.
The Clock House, Friday, August 5.’
She wrote also to her brother Hugh; but Hugh himself
Putney before the letter reached him.
Mr Bozzle watched the Colonel out of the house, and watched him out of the village. When the Colonel was fairly started, Mr Bozzle walked back to Lessboro’.