“Do you have some family that could help?” said Marie to Lady Arlington.
“Ah,” Lady Arlington smiled wanly. “My family. We have never truly been a close family. I was really only supposed to get married, to someone rich naturally, and quit the house. There was never any idea I might return or need help or even… affection.”
She dabbed her eyes lightly before continuing.
“You probably can’t imagine what that’s like,” Lady Arlington said. “I imagine you come from some marvellous, sprawling family, forever in each other’s pockets.”
Marie looked down.
“Actually my family is rather small,” Marie said. “For some time very small, I rather lost touch with my mother and only recently found her.”
“Well you see, we are the same then, you and I,” said Lady Arlington. “Fish out of water, detached from our birthplace and separated from our family. I suppose I should be grateful I’m in my own country. Do you miss France much? London isn’t a patch on Paris I imagine.”
“I… well my home is here,” said Marie, a little hesitantly. “My husband is here.”
“Yes, but surely you must miss it. Maybe you could persuade Sir John to go back. Has he been there?” said Lady Arlington.
“Yes, he lived in Paris. We met there…” started Marie.
“Well there you go!” said Lady Arlington. “Convince him to go back and you can be home again. You can have what I don’t have…”
Lady Arlington dabbed her eyes again a little.
“I do wish I could ring for tea,” she said. “Have you been home recently?”
“We went to Paris last year,” said Marie.
“I’ll bet that was lovely,” said Lady Arlington. “Nice to be home and with your own people. Did you meet with your mother? Of course you did.”
“Actually, that was when I found her,” said Marie, looking down.
“Well, then that’s a sign you should go back,” said Lady Arlington. “Why be like me, separated from your home.”
Marie looked up.
“Isn’t this your home?” she said.
Lady Arlington winced a little.
“It was…” she said and dabbed her eyes again.” It was, I suppose, when Lord Arlington was well and we had servants and society. Now, I have nothing but an empty house and a deranged husband.”
Lady Arlington fixed Marie a stare.
“You see now how important it is to have people around you, people who know you and you can trust. Do you have people like that?” she said.
“I… we have friends,” said Marie. “Our maid seems very loyal.”
“Pfff…” said Lady Arlington. “These people go in a shot when trouble comes. No, you need family. Only family will help you.”
Marie looked downcast and Lady Arlington studied her carefully.
“I’m sorry my dear,” she said, “if I rather hit a nerve. I imagine your husband is much more… robust than mine. All the better to take him with you. Go back home.”
Marie looked up and a tear seemed to be forming in the corner of her eye.
“Here you go my dear,” said Lady Arlington, passing over a handkerchief. “I have a spare.”