In the morning, after breakfast, at Hugh’s suggestion he and Letty walked across the fields to Abbeylands. Arm in arm, they paused on the riverbank to admire the swans. Ahead, a man stood at one of the farm gates. He lifted his cap as they approached.“Good day, Davie,” Hugh greeted him. “You’re in good time for our appointment. Have you thought over my proposal?” A slow smile creased the other’s weatherbeaten face.“Aye. I’ll take the position offered, but there’s the wee matter o’ the tied cottage tae. I’ve to be awa’ fae here afore long . . .”Hugh held up a cautionary hand.“I fear we are going too quickly, Davie. Miss Letitia here must hear of the plan, and give her approval. But first, I must give her the details!”After arranging to contact Davie once things had been discussed, Hugh and Letty resumed their walk. Tucking her hand into his arm, Hugh explained.“You need a gardener and handyman, Letty. Quite by accident, I met Davie on my last walk across here. He’s retiring from the farm soon, but he’s keen on the idea of carrying on with some gardening work. So I’m afraid I got a bit ahead of myself and offered him the position at Avondale House. I do apologise, dear Letty. I’m so used to making decisions without having to consult anyone else.”His companion smiled and squeezed his arm.“And I am unused to having someone solve problems for me, Hugh. So I forgive you. Davie’s well-known in these parts as a good worker. If he needs a place to stay, there’s always the gatehouse.“Mind you,” she added, “it needs a bit of work doing to it. It hasn’t been occupied for quite some time.”“I’ll have a look at it,” Hugh promised.Letty reflected that it was rather nice to have a masterful man like Hugh Glenavon taking charge of things at Avondale . . .She said as much to Louisa when she visited the Grange later that afternoon. The latter looked less than impressed.“Don’t you think that it might be considered just a little . . . inappropriate, for you to entertain a gentleman at Avondale for the best part of a week? Aren’t you afraid that people will talk?”Letty gave way to a peal of laughter.“Oh, Louisa, what a ridiculous thing to say! Hugh is a house-guest, and we are both of mature years, not to mention the fact that my housekeeper and maid live in the house as well.”“Yes, and I have no doubt they gossip like most servants!” Two red spots appeared on Letty’s cheeks.“Fiddle-faddle!” she said sharply. “Now, I’ve come especially to invite you to supper tomorrow evening. It’s Hugh’s last evening here. He has to get back to Glasgow, I’m afraid. Pressing business.”Louisa looked at her hands.“I must decline your invitation, Letty. I have the beginnings of one of my migraines.”Letty stood up abruptly, gathering gloves and reticule.“Then I shan’t keep you from applying cold compresses to your brow, Louisa, in the hope that you can avoid one of your headaches. I just thought that perhaps you’d like to have news of dear Constance. Hugh sees her occasionally in Glasgow. And, of course, Josh is a very close friend.”Louisa’s expression stiffened.“I do receive the occasional letter from my daughter, thank you, Letty. That will suffice, I think.”Letty’s eyes flashed.“Will it? Then perhaps you are unaware that Constance is far from well! She has retreated into herself, hardly ever sees her friends and, when they do see her, they see a quiet, pale Constance who has grown thin of late!”“I warned her.” Louisa’s voice was cold. “Warned her about racketing off to live an . . . an artist’s life, and now it has come to this.”There was a silence, taut as a bowstring.“You did not warn her, Louisa.” Letty was unsmiling. “You tried to impose your will on her in the most unjust way, ignoring her obvious talent, her wish to make something of it. You did not warn her you made it impossibly difficult for her, for your own selfish reasons. In fact, you are probably indirectly to blame for her present situation!” Her voice had risen, her composure shattered. Louisa Tarrant-Smyth rose from her chair. Her face was expressionless and, when she spoke, her voice was cold.“It seems, then, that the time has come for me to pay a visit to my daughter. I shall go to Glasgow at the earliest possible opportunity.”There was a pause while the two women regarded each other, unsmiling. Then Louisa turned away.“I won’t detain you.” Her voice was distant.Letty hurried home on the verge of tears, raging at herself for having been drawn into a quarrel.