They were all in doubt, terribly in doubt, whether the aggravated malady of which the telegram spoke was malady of the mind or of the body. If of the former nature then the difficulty might be very great indeed; and it would be highly expedient that Stanbury should have some one in Italy to assist him. It was Nora who suggested that he should carry a letter of introduction to Mr Spalding, and it was she who wrote it. Sir Marmaduke had not foregathered very closely with the English Minister, and nothing was said of assistance that should be peculiarly British. Then, at last, about three or four in the morning came the moment for parting. Sir Marmaduke had suggested that Stanbury should dine with them on the next day before he started, but Hugh had declined, alleging that as the day was at his command it must be devoted to the work of providing for his absence. In truth, Sir Marmaduke had given the invitation with a surly voice, and Hugh, though he was ready to go to the North Pole for any others of the family, was at the moment in an aggressive mood of mind towards Sir Marmaduke.
‘I will send a message directly I get there,’ he said, holding Lady Rowley by the hand, ‘and will write fully to you immediately.’
‘God bless you, my dear friend!’ said Lady Rowley, crying.
‘Good night, Sir Marmaduke,’ said Hugh.
‘Good night, Mr Stanbury.’
Then he gave a hand to the two girls, each of whom, as she took it, sobbed, and looked away from Nora. Nora was standing away from them, by herself, and away from the door, holding on to her chair, and with her hands clasped together. She had prepared nothing, not a word, or an attitude, not a thought, for this farewell. But she had felt that it was coming, and had known that she must trust to him for a cue for her own demeanour. If he could say adieu with a quiet voice, and simply with a touch of the hand, then would she do the same and endeavour to think no worse of him. Nor had he prepared anything; but when the moment came he could not leave her after that fashion. He stood a moment hesitating, not approaching her, and merely called her by her name ‘Nora!’ For a moment she was still; for a moment she held by her chair; and then she rushed into his arms. He did not much care for her father now, but kissed her hair and her forehead, and held her closely to his bosom. ‘My own, own Nora!’
It was necessary that Sir Marmaduke should say something. There was at first a little scene between all the women, during which he arranged his deportment.
‘Mr Stanbury,’ he said, ’let it be so. I could wish for my child’s sake, and also for your own, that your means of living were less precarious.’ Hugh accepted this simply as an authority for another embrace, and then he allowed them all to go to bed.
TREVELYAN DISCOURSES ON LIFE