“Reginald!” she whispered.
“Why do you persist in going behind my back, even after I have brought you all the way to America in order to protect you and our family?”
Suddenly she found her voice.
“To protect us! From what, Reginald? Scandal? So you say that a woman having the right to vote is scandalous! Just why is it that you feel I should not have this right? I’ve never actually asked you that question.”
“It’s not that simple, Julia.”
“Do you think I haven’t the intelligence to vote responsibly?”
“Of course you do!”
“The fact is, I feel as many men do. We have no quarrel with you and other women of your class having the vote. It’s the others.”
“To which others are you referring? Are there no intelligent women in the working classes? Look at Mrs Wiggan! And from what I see in Emily and Jenny, it’s clear that Sarah Callow has as fine a mind as anyone.”
It was true. The cook was set in her ways, but even Runciman, the butler, respected her judgement and intelligence. And Julia was certainly right about the women from the Callow household.
“The fact is, Reginald, if all women had the vote then they would make an even greater effort to become well informed. You said it yourself a moment ago – the world is changing very quickly. Shouldn’t women be given the chance to change with it?”
He ran a hand through his hair, then shook his head with a fresh wave of indignation.
“It’s your deception that I dislike! Clandestine correspondence, using Hester as a go-between . . .”
She laughed bitterly.
“It was hardly something I could share with you!”
They were silent for a moment, then he spoke.
“But I would like to share these things. Your interests; your thoughts. And mine.” He looked into her eyes. “I’ve missed you, darling.”
“Reggie!” Tears filled her eyes and she melted into his arms. “I’m sorry. I can’t bear your being disappointed with me.”
“I’m proud of you. I’m also full of another kind of pride, a silly kind. And I suppose that, although I have great hopes for the future, I’m fearful, too.”
She smoothed back his shock of silver hair that had hardly diminished at all.
“If we go into the future together side by side, come what may, then . . .”
But the tender moment was interrupted by a knock. It was the butler, who spoke in the exaggerated accent he’d affected since the Farringtons’ arrival.
“Begging your pardon, Lord and Lady Farrington, but Mr Allbright requires your presence in the drawing room. He has . . .” he paused dramatically “a surprise.”