At first she thought that she would not answer the letter at all. What was it to her? Let them fight their own lovers’ battles out after their own childish fashion. If the man meant at last to be honest, there could be no doubt, Mrs Hurtle thought, that the girl would go to him. It would require no interference of hers. But after a while she thought that she might as well see this English chit who had superseded herself in the affections of the Englishman she had condescended to love. And if it were the case that all revenge was to be abandoned, that no punishment was to be exacted in return for all the injury that had been done, why should she not say a kind word so as to smooth away the existing difficulties? Wild cat as she was, kindness was more congenial to her nature than cruelty. So she wrote to Hetta making an appointment.
Dear miss Carbury
If you could make it convenient
to yourself to call here either
Thursday or Friday at any hour between two and four, I shall be very
happy to see you.
During these days the intercourse between Lady Carbury and her daughter was constrained and far from pleasant. Hetta, thinking that she was ill-used, kept herself aloof, and would not speak to her mother of herself or of her troubles. Lady Carbury watching her, but not daring to say much, was at last almost frightened at her girl’s silence. She had assured herself, when she found that Hetta was disposed to quarrel with her lover and to send him back his brooch, that ‘things would come round,’ that Paul would be forgotten quickly,— or laid aside as though he were forgotten,—and that Hetta would soon perceive it to be her interest to marry her cousin. With such a prospect before her, Lady Carbury thought it to be her duty as a mother to show no tendency to sympathize with her girl’s sorrow. Such heart-breakings were occurring daily in the world around them. Who were the happy people that were driven neither by ambition, nor poverty, nor greed, nor the cross purposes of unhappy love, to stifle and trample upon their feelings? She had known no one so blessed. She had never been happy after that fashion. She herself had within the last few weeks refused to join her lot with that of a man she really liked, because her wicked son was so grievous a burden on her shoulders. A woman, she thought, if she were unfortunate enough to be a lady without wealth of her own, must give up everything, her body, her heart,—her very soul if she were that way troubled,—to the procuring of a fitting maintenance for herself. Why should Hetta hope to be more fortunate than others? And then the position which chance now offered to her was fortunate. This cousin of hers, who was so devoted to her, was in all respects good.