"Mother!" said Tom, recalling Lady Tringle as she was leaving the room.
"What is it, my dear? I must really go now or I shall be too late for the train."
"Mother, tell her, tell her -- tell her that I love her." His mother ran back, kissed his brow, and then left the room.
Lady Tringle spent that evening in Queen's Gate, where Sir Thomas remained with her. The hours passed heavily, as they had not much present to their mind with which to console each other. Sir Thomas had no belief whatever in the journey except in so far as it might help to induce his son to proceed upon his travels -- but his wife had been so far softened by poor Tom's sorrows as to hope a little, in spite of her judgment, that Ayala might yet relent. Her heart was soft towards her son, so that she felt that the girl would deserve all manner of punishment unless she would at last yield to Tom's wishes. She was all but sure that it could not be so, and yet, in spite of her convictions, she hoped.
On the next morning the train took her safely to the Stalham Road Station, and as she approached the end of her journey her heart became heavier within her. She felt that she could not but fail to give any excuse to the Alburys for such a journey -- unless, indeed, Ayala should do as she would have her. At the station she found the Albury carriage, with the Albury coachman, and the Albury footman, and the Albury liveries, waiting for her. It was a closed carriage, and for a moment she thought that Ayala might be there. In that case she could have performed her commission in the carriage, and then have returned to London without going to the house at all. But Ayala was not there. Lady Tringle was driven up to the house, and then taken through the hall into a small sitting-room, where for a moment she was alone. Then the door opened, and Ayala, radiant with beauty, in all the prettiness of her best morning costume, was in a moment in her arms. She seemed in her brightness to be different from that Ayala who had been known before at Glenbogie and in Rome. "Dear Aunt," said Ayala, "I am so delighted to see you at Stalham!'
CHAPTER 55 IN THE CASTLE THERE LIVED A KNIGHT
Ayala was compelled to consent to remain at Stalham. The "I don't think" which she repeated so often was, of course, of no avail to her. Sir Harry would be angry, and Lady Albury would be disgusted, were she to go -- and so she remained. There was to be a week before Colonel Stubbs would come, and she was to remain not only for the week but also for some short time afterwards -- so that there might be yet a few days left of hunting under the Colonel. It could not, surely, have been doubtful to her after she had read that letter -- with the postscript -- that if she remained her happiness would be ensured! He would not have come again and insisted on her being there to receive him if nothing were to come of it. And yet she had fought for permission to return to Kingsbury Crescent after her little fashion, and had at last yielded, as she told Lady Albury -- because Sir Harry seemed to wish it. "Of course he wishes it," said Lady Albury. "He has got the pony on purpose, and nobody likes being disappointed when he has done a thing so much as Sir Harry." Ayala, delighted as she was, did not make her secret known. She was fluttered, and apparently uneasy -- so that her friend did not know what to make of it, or which way to take it. Ayala's secret was to herself a secret still to be maintained with holy reticence. It might still be possible that Jonathan Stubbs should never say another word to her of his love. If he did -- why then all the world might know. Then there would be no secret. Then she could sit and discuss her love, and his love, all night long with Lady Albury, if Lady Albury would listen to her. In the meantime the secret must be a secret. To confess her love, and then to have her love disappointed -- that would be death to her!
And thus it went on through the whole week, Lady Albury not quite knowing what to make of it. Once she did say a word, thinking that she would thus extract the truth, not as yet understanding how potent Ayala could be to keep her secret. "That man has, at any rate, been very true to you," she said. Ayala frowned, and shook her head, and would not say a word upon the subject. "If she did not mean to take him now, surely she would have gone," Lady Albury said to her husband.