Paul made his way into Mrs Hurtle’s sitting-room and wrote a note for her in pencil. He had come, he said, immediately on his return from Liverpool, and was sorry to find that she was away for the day. When should he call again? If she would make an appointment he would attend to it. He felt as he wrote this that he might very safely have himself made an appointment for the morrow; but he cheated himself into half believing that the suggestion he now made was the more gracious and civil. At any rate it would certainly give him another day. Mrs Hurtle would not return till late in the evening, and as the following day was Sunday there would be no delivery by post. When the note was finished he left it on the table, and called to Ruby to tell her that he was going. ‘Mr Montague,’ she said in a confidential whisper, as she tripped clown the stairs, ’I don’t see why you need be saying anything about me, you know.’
‘Mr Carbury is up in town looking after you.’
‘What am I to Mr Carbury?’
‘Your grandfather is very anxious about you.’
’Not a bit of it, Mr Montague. Grandfather knows very well where I am. There! Grandfather doesn’t want me back, and I ain’t a going. Why should the Squire bother himself about me? I don’t bother myself about him.’
’He’s afraid, Miss Ruggles, that you are trusting yourself to a young man who is not trustworthy.’
‘I can mind myself very well, Mr Montague.’
’Tell me this. Have you seen Sir Felix Carbury since you’ve been in town?’ Ruby, whose blushes came very easily, now flushed up to her forehead. ’You may be sure that he means no good to you. What can come of an intimacy between you and such a one as he?’
’I don’t see why I shouldn’t have my friend, Mr Montague, as well as you. Howsomever, if you’ll not tell, I’ll be ever so much obliged.’
‘But I must tell Mr Carbury.’
‘Then I ain’t obliged to you one bit,’ said Ruby, shutting the door.
Paul as he walked away could not help thinking of the justice of Ruby’s reproach to him. What business had he to take upon himself to be a Mentor to any one in regard to an affair of love;—he, who had engaged himself to marry Mrs Hurtle, and who the evening before had for the first time declared his love to Hetta Carbury?
In regard to Mrs Hurtle he had got a reprieve, as he thought, for two days;—but it did not make him happy or even comfortable. As he walked back to his lodgings he knew it would have been better for him to have had the interview over. But, at any rate, he could now think of Hetta Carbury, and the words he had spoken to her. Had he heard that declaration which she had made to her mother, he would have been able for the hour to have forgotten Mrs Hurtle.
That evening Montague was surprised to receive at the Beargarden a note from Mr Melmotte, which had been brought thither by a messenger from the city,—who had expected to have an immediate answer, as though Montague lived at the club.