’You shall put it in that way if you like it, my dear. Girls in your position often do want assistance. I dare say you think me very straight-laced, but I am quite sure Mr Stanbury will be grateful to me. As you are to be married from Monkhams, it will be quite well that you should pass thither through my house as an intermediate resting-place, after leaving your father and mother.’ By all which, Lady Milborough intended to express an opinion that the value of the article which Hugh Stanbury would receive at the altar would be enhanced by the distinguished purity of the hands through which it had passed before it came into his possession, in which opinion she was probably right as regarded the price put upon the article by the world at large, though it may perhaps be doubted whether the recipient himself would be of the same opinion.
‘I hope you know that I am grateful, whatever he may be,’ said Nora, after a pause.
’I think that you take it as it is meant, and that makes me quite comfortable.’
’Lady Milborough, I shall love you for ever and ever. I don’t think I ever knew anybody so good as you are or so nice.’
‘Then I shall be more than comfortable,’ said Lady Milborough. After that there was an embrace, and the thing was settled.
TREVELYAN BACK IN ENGLAND
Nora, with Lady Milborough’s carriage, and Lady Milborough’s coach and footman, and with a cab ready for the luggage close behind the carriage, was waiting at the railway station when the party from Dover arrived. She soon saw Hugh upon the platform, and ran to him with her news. They had not a word to say to each other of themselves, so anxious were they both respecting Trevelyan. ’We got a bed-carriage for him at Dover,’ said Hugh; ’and I think he has borne the journey pretty well but he feels the heat almost as badly as in Italy. You will hardly know him when you see him.’ Then, when the rush of passengers was gone, Trevelyan was brought out by Hugh and the courier, and placed in Lady Milborough’s carriage. He just smiled as his eye fell upon Nora, but he did not even put out his hand to greet her.
‘I am to go in the carriage with him,’ said his wife.
’Of course you are, and so will I and Louey. I think there will be room: it is so large. There is a cab for all the things. Dear Emily, I am so glad to see you.’
’Dearest Nora! I shall be able to speak to you by-and-by, but you must not be angry with me now. How good you have been.’
’Has not she been good? I don’t understand about the cottage. It belongs to some friend of hers; and I have not been able to say a word about the rent. It is so nice and looks upon the river. I hope that he will like it.’
‘You will be with us?’
’Not just at first. Lady Milborough thinks I had better not, that he will like it better. I will come down almost every day, and will stay if you think he will like it.’