WHEN Barfoot made his next evening call, Rhoda did not appear. He sat for some time in pleasant talk with his cousin, no reference whatever being made to Miss Nunn; then at length, beginning to fear that he would not see her, he inquired after her health. Miss Nunn was very well, answered the hostess, smiling.
'Not at home this evening?'
'Busy with some kind of study, I think.'
Plainly, the difference between these women had come to a happy end, as Barfoot foresaw that it would. He thought it better to make no mention of his meeting with Rhoda in the Gardens.
'That was a very unpleasant affair that I saw your name connected with last week,' he said presently.
'It made me very miserable,--ill indeed for a day or two.'
'That was why you couldn't see me?'
'But in your reply to my note you made no mention of the circumstances.'
Miss Barfoot kept silence; frowning slightly, she looked at the fire near which they were both sitting, for the weather had become very cold.
'No doubt,' pursued Everard, glancing at her, 'you refrained out of delicacy--on my account, I mean.'
'Need we talk of it?'
'For a moment, please.--You are very friendly with me nowadays, but I suppose your estimate of my character remains very much the same as years ago?'
'What is the use of such questions?'
'I ask for a distinct purpose. You can't regard me with any respect?'
'To tell you the truth, Everard, I know nothing about you. I have no wish to revive disagreeable memories, and I think it quite possible that you may be worthy of respect.'
'So far, so good. Now, in justice, please answer me another question. How have you spoken of me to Miss Nunn?'
'How can it matter?'