When they started to return she stepped on gallantly with Priscilla; but Priscilla was stopped by some chance, having some word to say to her brother, having some other word to say to Mrs Trevelyan. Could it be that her austerity had been softened, and that in kindness they contrived that Nora should be left some yards behind them with her brother? Whether it were kindness, or an unkind error, so it was. Nora, when she perceived what destiny was doing for her, would not interfere with destiny. If he chose to speak to her she would hear him and would answer him. She knew very well what answer she would give him. She had her answer quite ready at her fingers’ ends. There was no doubt about her answer.
They had walked half a mile together and he had spoken of nothing but the scenery. She had endeavoured to appear to be excited. Oh, yes, the scenery of Devonshire was delightful. She hardly wanted anything more to make her happy. If only this misery respecting her sister could be set right!
‘And you, you yourself’ said he, ’do you mean that there is nothing you want in leaving London?’
‘Not much, indeed.’
’It sometimes seemed to me that that kind of life was was very pleasant to you.’
‘What kind of life, Mr Stanbury?’
’The life that you were living—going out, being admired, and having the rich and dainty all around you.’
‘I don’t dislike people because they are rich’ she said.
’No; nor do I; and I despise those who affect to dislike them. But all cannot be rich.’
‘Nor all dainty, as you choose to call them.’
’But they who have once been dainty as I call them never like to divest themselves of their daintiness. You have been one of the dainty, Miss Rowley.’
’Certainly; I doubt whether you would be happy if you thought that your daintiness had departed from you.’
’I hope, Mr Stanbury, that nothing nice and pleasant has departed from me. If I have ever been dainty, dainty I hope. I may remain. I will never, at, any rate, give it up of my own accord’. Why she said this, she could never explain to herself. She had certainly not intended to rebuff him when she had been saying it. But he spoke not a word to her further as they walked home, either of her mode of life or of his own.
HUGH STANBURY SMOKES HIS PIPE
Nora Rowley, when she went to bed, after her walk to Niddon Park in company with Hugh Stanbury, was full of wrath against, him. But she could not own her anger to herself, nor could she even confess to herself though she was breaking her heart that there really existed for her the slightest cause of grief. But why had he been so stern to her? Why had he gone out of his way to be uncivil to her? He had called her ‘dainty’ meaning to imply by the epithet that she was one of the butterflies