Lord Calthorpe, having invited Fate's attention to himself, had to suffer for it. A stray bullet found him on the edge of one of the tribal wars, and his widow sat in her house receiving shoals of commiserations, while Sophia eagerly offered her hair-shirt. “I told Darien I never wore it now,” she explained to Tiffany. “I'm sure it would be such a comfort. But she said it was the last thing she wanted.”
Darien was at first not certain what she wanted, but she soon knew. After shedding a few tears for Calthorpe and feeling that he might have been much worse, she investigated his papers and found that he couldn't possibly have been. Debts stood about his name like a strong stockade … and how could Darien pay them even if she wished, which she didn't? Why should she, since Calthorpe never had?
What I want, she said, is money, and I haven't a cent. She thought of Nick Flower. But he had never lent her that fifty pounds, and Calthorpe owed him thousands. Perhaps he'd marry her now…. But she wanted to taste her liberty and there would be monstrous little of it with Nick Flower. He'd take my diamonds to redeem that debt, she felt, knowing that was what she'd do herself. He'd take her, too, body and soul; and the independence growing in Darien revolted at that. Men always wanted so much.
Now was the chance, she thought, to make thousands out of wool and sheep. But (these hateful buts!) how do page 282 it without money? Sir John! She'd go and do her necessary mourning with Sir John, and perhaps the silly old dear would give her half his flock. Or she might find a rich farmer who would be easily managed. Feeling her spirits leaping again, Darien pulled off her widow's cap with its dangling tails (she'd be hanged if she would wear it at the farm), and sat down to write the Dowager Lady Calthorpe a sort of blackmailing letter saying she was penniless and begging a thousand pounds.
“Have you a stamp?” she asked of Tiffany coming in. “Good gracious, child, what's the matter?”
Tiffany was nearer a breakdown than anyone ever had seen her. Her warm colour was gone and there were dark lines under her eyes. But she stood her ground. This, she felt, was no time to be a coward. Papa, she said, wanted Hew to go down and manage the Canterbury property and take her with him as his wife.
“I swear to God I will never do it,” declared Tiffany, keeping her voice steady with an effort.
“H'm.” Darien pinched her lip. First Roddy and then Tiffany. Peregrine would get more than he bargained for yet. But what a chance for Hew, who had wanted Tiffy so long and would be out of the war when it came. “What does Dick Sackville say?” she asked. If signs meant anything Tiffany had cast a spell on that blithe rover.
Tiffany sank down with face in her hands, and Darien feared she was going to pray. Buddhist, Mohammedan, what did Tiffy think she was now?
“Oh, how could I tell him such a thing?” she sobbed, as though Sackville, of all men, should be kept in cottonwool.
“Bah!” said Darien, going over and turning up the sweet flushed face to kiss it. “Leave that to me, my dear.”
It was long, she felt cheerfully, since she had had her finger in such a pie as this promised to be.