With All My Worldly Goods

With All My Worldly Goods by Mary Burchell

Book: With All My Worldly Goods by Mary Burchell Read Free Book Online
Authors: Mary Burchell
table. As she did so the clock downstairs struck half-past three. No wonder Bruce looked pale and slightly strained, she thought. And he had been walking miles.
    She put out her hand and patted his cheek.
    “Are you very tired?” She spoke a little more tenderly than she had meant.
    “Not more so than I’ve been a thousand times before.”
    “Oh—have you often been tired, my poor Bruce?”
    He didn’t say anything. He leant forward with an inarticulate sound and put his head against her.
    She slowly put her arm round him, trying to not think of his remark about “playing the great lover”.
    “What is it?” she said softly at last.
    “Nothing. When will you marry me? Soon ?”
    This was the moment, of course.
    Leonora watched it pass, and did nothing to seize it. “Will you marry me by special licence next week?” He stared up at her, those dark eyes of his burning with his feeling for her—or her seventy thousand pounds.
    “Yes. I’ll marry you next week,” she said faintly. And with a little laugh that was half a gasp of relief, he sat up, pushing back his hair with a faintly nervous gesture. “Good lord, child—I must go.”
    He bent his head and kissed her quickly.
    “Good night, Lora.”
    “Good night.”
    She watched him until, with a smile, he turned at the door and put out the light.
    Then she slept.
    The hours of cold and anxiety must have had some effect on her, after all. Or perhaps Bruce had overdone the dose of whisky in her hot drink. At any rate, she seemed to sink through layers and layers of unconsciousness, until there was nothing left at all.
    When she finally woke, it was quite late in the afternoon, and Agatha was standing beside her bed, looking very anxious.
    “Lora, dear! I’m thank ful to see your eyes open. What ever is the matter, child? You seemed almost unconscious.”
    “Did I? I’m all right,” Leonora murmured. But she felt cold and extraordinarily languid. “I must have caught a chill, I think. I feel so weak and—cold.”
    Agatha took her wrist in warm, capable fingers. “Your pulse is quite feeble, too, Lora. I’m afraid you’re not a bit well, dear. Would you like me to send for a doctor?”
    “Oh no. Really, I’m all right.” Leonora roused herself then. “It’s just that I—I got very cold last night waiting for Bruce.”
    “Waiting for Bruce?” Agatha repeated in surprise. “What do you mean?”
    Leonora colored a little. “I got anxious and—went downstairs to wait. It was really very silly.”
    “Well, yes. I’m afraid it was,” said Agatha rather severely. “I think you’d better stay in bed now, Lora. I’ll have a couple of hot water bottles sent up, and see that you have a fire.”
    Leonora thought of protesting again, but somehow the prospect of just lying there and getting warm seemed very good, and so she agreed.
    It was not until afterwards she realized that probably the tremendous shock of yesterday had had something to do with her feeling so low. In any case, she did not want Agatha to know anything about that.
    Quite late in the evening, Bruce came in for a moment to see her. She was lying there idly in the firelight, feeling much better, but still a little lazy, and as he bent over her solicitously she thought: “How well he does it.” But even then she felt no anger. She seemed drained of any desire to fight it out. Things must just be left now to take their course.
    And when he said urgently: “You did mean what you said last night, didn’t you? You will marry me next week?” she firmly drew the line under her decision and replied: “Oh yes. I meant what I said.”
    The next day she was quite well enough to get up. All the ill effects of the chill seemed to have worn off, except for a certain languor which still hung about her. And that, thought Leonora, probably had nothing to do with the cold.
    In any case, she would have had to feel a great deal worse than this to stay in bed, with her wedding only seven days

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