Leofric Temple makes an appearance in London to visit his step-brother.  The narrator describes him as indolent, effeminate, and financially irresponsible.  He reveals to Jack that he is seriously in debt and manages to extract a loan of £500, on the understanding that he will ask for no more.  Leofric then demands to be introduced to Rowney Bellew.  When they meet, it soon becomes obvious that it is not for the first time, much to Jack’s consternation.  Leofric reveals that they met at a masked ball where Rowney was dressed as a page.

When Rowney learns that Leofric is to be stationed near Sutton Valence, she suddenly develops an interest in visiting her fiance’s family.  The visit, however, gets off to a bad start when Rowney greets her future in-laws haughtily.  She shows little interest in anything other than the company of Leofric, thus provoking Jack’s jealousy.  To compound his misery, his friends and neighbours are unimpressed by his choice of wife, although this merely strengthens his resolution.

Jack is further agitated by the news that his father is again drinking heavily, causing him to behave violently and to spend all the meagre housekeeping money on his addiction.

Jack tries to get Rowena to come out into the garden with him, but she declines, declaring that it is too hot.  When Leofric asks her to join him, however, she accepts with alacrity.  For the first time, Jack’s love is not strong enough to conquer the anger he feels.  He is also angry when meeting Henrietta, whose reservedness he interprets as yet more disapproval.  He has no idea of her feelings towards him.

After supper Leofric catches Rowney in a corridor and steals a kiss from her, a move she makes no attempt to resist.  Jack almost overhears them but decides not to believe his ears, blaming it on his jealousy.  The next morning his love and passion are fully restored.

The increasingly sickly Winifred Balchin meets Leofric when he is riding back to his barracks.  She declares her love for him and begs him to return some affection.  He provides a few unconvincing words and continues on his journey.

Jack witnesses more evidence of his father’s drink problem, which is making him a danger to the family.  He fears for the safety of his step-mother and half-sister.

A few days later Rowney is seen wearing a new expensive-looking bracelet.  She responds enigmatically when Jack enquires as to its provenance.  Miss Crofton, however, lets slip that the benefactor was Leofric.  A furious Jack confronts Rowney, who responds with floods of tears.  The next morning it is announced that Miss Crofton must return home at short notice.  Jack drives her to the station, during which time she take the opportunity to enlighten him as to her cousin’s true character.  Jack strongly resents her intrusion into his affairs and denounces her as a spiteful spinster who is jealous of Rowney’s beauty.  Although he convinces himself that his fiancée has been unfairly maligned, a seed of doubt has been planted in his mind.

Pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9