Man and Wife, by Wilkie Collins

Chapter the Twenty-Third.

Traced.

THE chaise rattled our through the gates. The dogs barked furiously. Sir Patrick looked round, and waved his hand as he turned the corner of the road. Blanche was left alone in the yard.

She lingered a little, absently patting the dogs. They had especial claims on her sympathy at that moment; they, too, evidently thought it hard to be left behind at the house. After a while she roused herself. Sir Patrick had left the responsibility of superintending the crossroads on her shoulders. There was something to be done yet before the arrangements for tracing Anne were complete. Blanche left the yard to do it.

On her way back to the house she met Arnold, dispatched by Lady Lundie in search of her.

The plan of occupation for the afternoon had been settled during Blanche’s absence. Some demon had whispered to Lady Lundie to cultivate a taste for feudal antiquities, and to insist on spreading that taste among her guests. She had proposed an excursion to an old baronial castle among the hills — far to the westward (fortunately for Sir Patrick’s chance of escaping discovery) of the hills at Craig Fernie. Some of the guests were to ride, and some to accompany their hostess in the open carriage. Looking right and left for proselytes, Lady Lundie had necessarily remarked the disappearance of certain members of her circle. Mr. Delamayn had vanished, nobody knew where. Sir Patrick and Blanche had followed his example. Her ladyship had observed, upon this, with some asperity, that if they were all to treat each other in that unceremonious manner, the sooner Windygates was turned into a Penitentiary, on the silent system, the fitter the house would be for the people who inhabited it. Under these circumstances, Arnold suggested that Blanche would do well to make her excuses as soon as possible at head-quarters, and accept the seat in the carriage which her step-mother wished her to take. “We are in for the feudal antiquities, Blanche; and we must help each other through as well as we can. If you will go in the carriage, I’ll go too.”

Blanche shook her head.

“There are serious reasons for my keeping up appearances,” she said. “I shall go in the carriage. You mustn’t go at all.”

Arnold naturally looked a little surprised, and asked to be favored with an explanation.

Blanche took his arm and hugged it close. Now that Anne was lost, Arnold was more precious to her than ever. She literally hungered to hear at that moment, from his own lips, how fond he was of her. It mattered nothing that she was already perfectly satisfied on this point. It was so nice (after he had said it five hundred times already) to make him say it once more!

“Suppose I had no explanation to give?” she said. “Would you stay behind by yourself to please me?”

“I would do any thing to please you!”

“Do you really love me as much as that?”

They were still in the yard; and the only witnesses present were the dogs. Arnold answered in the language without words — which is nevertheless the most expressive language in use, between men and women, all over the world.

“This is not doing my duty,” said Blanche, penitently. “But, oh Arnold, I am so anxious and so miserable! And it is such a consolation to know that you won’t turn your back on me too!”

With that preface she told him what had happened in the library. Even Blanche’s estimate of her lover’s capacity for sympathizing with her was more than realized by the effect which her narrative produced on Arnold. He was not merely surprised and sorry for her. His face showed plainly that he felt genuine concern and distress. He had never stood higher in Blanche’s opinion than he stood at that moment.

“What is to be done?” he asked. “How does Sir Patrick propose to find her?”

Blanche repeated Sir Patrick’s instructions relating to the crossroads, and also to the serious necessity of pursuing the investigation in the strictest privacy. Arnold (relieved from all fear of being sent back to Craig Fernie) undertook to do every thing that was asked of him, and promised to keep the secret from every body.

They went back to the house, and met with an icy welcome from Lady Lundie. Her ladyship repeated her remark on the subject of turning Windygates into a Penitentiary for Blanche’s benefit. She received Arnold’s petition to be excused from going to see the castle with the barest civility. “Oh, take your walk by all means! You may meet your friend, Mr. Delamayn — who appears to have such a passion for walking that he can’t even wait till luncheon is over. As for Sir Patrick — Oh! Sir Patrick has borrowed the pony-carriage? and gone out driving by himself? — I’m sure I never meant to offend my brother-in-law when I offered him a slice of my poor little cake. Don’t let me offend any body else. Dispose of your afternoon, Blanche, without the slightest reference to me. Nobody seems inclined to visit the ruins — the most interesting relic of feudal times in Perthshire, Mr. Brinkworth. It doesn’t matter — oh, dear me, it doesn’t matter! I can’t force my guests to feel an intelligent curiosity on the subject of Scottish Antiquities. No! no! my dear Blanche! — it won’t be the first time, or the last, that I have driven out alone. I don’t at all object to being alone. ‘My mind to me a kingdom is,’ as the poet says.” So Lady Lundie’s outraged self-importance asserted its violated claims on human respect, until her distinguished medical guest came to the rescue and smoothed his hostess’s ruffled plumes. The surgeon (he privately detested ruins) begged to go. Blanche begged to go. Smith and Jones (profoundly interested in feudal antiquities) said they would sit behind, in the “rumble”— rather than miss this unexpected treat. One, Two, and Three caught the infection, and volunteered to be the escort on horseback. Lady Lundie’s celebrated “smile” (warranted to remain unaltered on her face for hours together) made its appearance once more. She issued her orders with the most charming amiability. “We’ll take the guidebook,” said her ladyship, with the eye to mean economy, which is only to be met with in very rich people, “and save a shilling to the man who shows the ruins.” With that she went up stairs to array herself for the drive, and looked in the glass; and saw a perfectly virtuous, fascinating, and accomplished woman, facing her irresistibly in a new French bonnet!

At a private signal from Blanche, Arnold slipped out and repaired to his post, where the roads crossed the road that led to the railway.

There was a space of open heath on one side of him, and the stonewall and gates of a farmhouse inclosure on the other. Arnold sat down on the soft heather — and lit a cigar — and tried to see his way through the double mystery of Anne’s appearance and Anne’s flight.

He had interpreted his friend’s absence exactly as his friend had anticipated: he could only assume that Geoffrey had gone to keep a private appointment with Anne. Miss Silvester’s appearance at Windygates alone, and Miss Silvester’s anxiety to hear the names of the gentlemen who were staying in the house, seemed, under these circumstances, to point to the plain conclusion that the two had, in some way, unfortunately missed each other. But what could be the motive of her flight? Whether she knew of some other place in which she might meet Geoffrey? or whether she had gone back to the inn? or whether she had acted under some sudden impulse of despair? — were questions which Arnold was necessarily quite incompetent to solve. There was no choice but to wait until an opportunity offered of reporting what had happened to Geoffrey himself.

After the lapse of half an hour, the sound of some approaching vehicle — the first sound of the sort that he had heard — attracted Arnold’s attention. He started up, and saw the pony-chaise approaching him along the road from the station. Sir Patrick, this time, was compelled to drive himself — Duncan was not with him. On discovering Arnold, he stopped the pony.

“So! so!” said the old gentleman. “You have heard all about it, I see? You understand that this is to be a secret from every body, till further notice? Very good, Has any thing happened since you have been here?”

“Nothing. Have you made any discoveries, Sir Patrick?”

“None. I got to the station before the train. No signs of Miss Silvester any where. I have left Duncan on the watch — with orders not to stir till the last train has passed to-night.”

“I don’t think she will turn up at the station,” said Arnold. “I fancy she has gone back to Craig Fernie.”

“Quite possible. I am now on my way to Craig Fernie, to make inquiries about her. I don’t know how long I may be detained, or what it may lead to. If you see Blanche before I do tell her I have instructed the station-master to let me know (if Miss Silvester does take the railway) what place she books for. Thanks to that arrangement, we sha’n’t have to wait for news till Duncan can telegraph that he has seen her to her journey’s end. In the mean time, you understand what you are wanted to do here?”

“Blanche has explained every thing to me.”

“Stick to your post, and make good use of your eyes. You were accustomed to that, you know, when you were at sea. It’s no great hardship to pass a few hours in this delicious summer air. I see you have contracted the vile modern habit of smoking — that will be occupation enough to amuse you, no doubt! Keep the roads in view; and, if she does come your way, don’t attempt to stop her — you can’t do that. Speak to her (quite innocently, mind!), by way of getting time enough to notice the face of the man who is driving her, and the name (if there is one) on his cart. Do that, and you will do enough. Pah! how that cigar poisons the air! What will have become of your stomach when you get to my age?”

“I sha’n’t complain, Sir Patrick, if I can eat as good a dinner as you do.”

“That reminds me! I met somebody I knew at the station. Hester Dethridge has left her place, and gone to London by the train. We may feed at Windygates — we have done with dining now. It has been a final quarrel this time between the mistress and the cook. I have given Hester my address in London, and told her to let me know before she decides on another place. A woman who can’t talk, and a woman who can cook, is simply a woman who has arrived at absolute perfection. Such a treasure shall not go out of the family, if I can help it. Did you notice the Bechamel sauce at lunch? Pooh! a young man who smokes cigars doesn’t know the difference between Bechamel sauce and melted butter. Good afternoon! good afternoon!”

He slackened the reins, and away he went to Craig Fernie. Counting by years, the pony was twenty, and the pony’s driver was seventy. Counting by vivacity and spirit, two of the most youthful characters in Scotland had got together that afternoon in the same chaise.

An hour more wore itself slowly out; and nothing had passed Arnold on the cross-roads but a few stray foot-passengers, a heavy wagon, and a gig with an old woman in it. He rose again from the heather, weary of inaction, and resolved to walk backward and forward, within view of his post, for a change. At the second turn, when his face happened to be set toward the open heath, he noticed another foot-passenger — apparently a man — far away in the empty distance. Was the person coming toward him?

He advanced a little. The stranger was doubtless advancing too, so rapidly did his figure now reveal itself, beyond all doubt, as the figure of a man. A few minutes more and Arnold fancied he recognized it. Yet a little longer, and he was quite sure. There was no mistaking the lithe strength and grace of that man, and the smooth easy swiftness with which he covered his ground. It was the hero of the coming foot-race. It was Geoffrey on his way back to Windygates House.

Arnold hurried forward to meet him. Geoffrey stood still, poising himself on his stick, and let the other come up.

“Have you heard what has happened at the house?” asked Arnold.

He instinctively checked the next question as it rose to his lips. There was a settled defiance in the expression of Geoffrey’s face, which Arnold was quite at a loss to understand. He looked like a man who had made up his mind to confront any thing that could happen, and to contradict any body who spoke to him.

“Something seems to have annoyed you?” said Arnold.

“What’s up at the house?” returned Geoffrey, with his loudest voice and his hardest look.

“Miss Silvester has been at the house.”

“Who saw her?”

“Nobody but Blanche.”

“Well?”

“Well, she was miserably weak and ill, so ill that she fainted, poor thing, in the library. Blanche brought her to.”

“And what then?”

“We were all at lunch at the time. Blanche left the library, to speak privately to her uncle. When she went back Miss Silvester was gone, and nothing has been seen of her since.”

“A row at the house?”

“Nobody knows of it at the house, except Blanche —”

“And you? And how many besides?”

“And Sir Patrick. Nobody else.”

“Nobody else? Any thing more?”

Arnold remembered his promise to keep the investigation then on foot a secret from every body. Geoffrey’s manner made him — unconsciously to himself — readier than he might otherwise have been to consider Geoffrey as included in the general prohibition.

“Nothing more,” he answered.

Geoffrey dug the point of his stick deep into the soft, sandy ground. He looked at the stick, then suddenly pulled it out of the ground and looked at Arnold. “Good-afternoon!” he said, and went on his way again by himself.

Arnold followed, and stopped him. For a moment the two men looked at each other without a word passing on either side. Arnold spoke first.

“You’re out of humor, Geoffrey. What has upset you in this way? Have you and Miss Silvester missed each other?”

Geoffrey was silent.

“Have you seen her since she left Windygates?”

No reply.

“Do you know where Miss Silvester is now?”

Still no reply. Still the same mutely-insolent defiance of look and manner. Arnold’s dark color began to deepen.

“Why don’t you answer me?” he said.

“Because I have had enough of it.”

“Enough of what?”

“Enough of being worried about Miss Silvester. Miss Silvester’s my business — not yours.”

“Gently, Geoffrey! Don’t forget that I have been mixed up in that business — without seeking it myself.”

“There’s no fear of my forgetting. You have cast it in my teeth often enough.”

“Cast it in your teeth?”

“Yes! Am I never to hear the last of my obligation to you? The devil take the obligation! I’m sick of the sound of it.”

There was a spirit in Arnold — not easily brought to the surface, through the overlying simplicity and good-humor of his ordinary character — which, once roused, was a spirit not readily quelled. Geoffrey had roused it at last.

“When you come to your senses,” he said, “I’ll remember old times — and receive your apology. Till you do come to your senses, go your way by yourself. I have no more to say to you.”

Geoffrey set his teeth, and came one step nearer. Arnold’s eyes met his, with a look which steadily and firmly challenged him — though he was the stronger man of the two — to force the quarrel a step further, if he dared. The one human virtue which Geoffrey respected and understood was the virtue of courage. And there it was before him — the undeniable courage of the weaker man. The callous scoundrel was touched on the one tender place in his whole being. He turned, and went on his way in silence.

Left by himself, Arnold’s head dropped on his breast. The friend who had saved his life — the one friend he possessed, who was associated with his earliest and happiest remembrances of old days — had grossly insulted him: and had left him deliberately, without the slightest expression of regret. Arnold’s affectionate nature — simple, loyal, clinging where it once fastened — was wounded to the quick. Geoffrey’s fast-retreating figure, in the open view before him, became blurred and indistinct. He put his hand over his eyes, and hid, with a boyish shame, the hot tears that told of the heartache, and that honored the man who shed them.

He was still struggling with the emotion which had overpowered him, when something happened at the place where the roads met.

The four roads pointed as nearly as might be toward the four points of the compass. Arnold was now on the road to the eastward, having advanced in that direction to meet Geoffrey, between two and three hundred yards from the farm-house inclosure before which he had kept his watch. The road to the westward, curving away behind the farm, led to the nearest market-town. The road to the south was the way to the station. And the road to the north led back to Windygates House.

While Geoffrey was still fifty yards from the turning which would take him back to Windygates — while the tears were still standing thickly in Arnold’s eyes — the gate of the farm inclosure opened. A light four-wheel chaise came out with a man driving, and a woman sitting by his side. The woman was Anne Silvester, and the man was the owner of the farm.

Instead of taking the way which led to the station, the chaise pursued the westward road to the market-town. Proceeding in this direction, the backs of the persons in the vehicle were necessarily turned on Geoffrey, advancing behind them from the eastward. He just carelessly noticed the shabby little chaise, and then turned off north on his way to Windygates.

By the time Arnold was composed enough to look round him, the chaise had taken the curve in the road which wound behind the farmhouse. He returned — faithful to the engagement which he had undertaken — to his post before the inclosure. The chaise was then a speck in the distance. In a minute more it was a speck out of sight.

So (to use Sir Patrick’s phrase) had the woman broken through difficulties which would have stopped a man. So, in her sore need, had Anne Silvester won the sympathy which had given her a place, by the farmer’s side, in the vehicle that took him on his own business to the market-town. And so, by a hair’s-breadth, did she escape the treble risk of discovery which threatened her — from Geoffrey, on his way back; from Arnold, at his post; and from the valet, on the watch for her appearance at the station.

The afternoon wore on. The servants at Windygates, airing themselves in the grounds — in the absence of their mistress and her guests — were disturbed, for the moment, by the unexpected return of one of “the gentlefolks.” Mr. Geoffrey Delamayn reappeared at the house alone; went straight to the smoking-room; and calling for another supply of the old ale, settled himself in an arm-chair with the newspaper, and began to smoke.

He soon tired of reading, and fell into thinking of what had happened during the latter part of his walk.

The prospect before him had more than realized the most sanguine anticipations that he could have formed of it. He had braced himself — after what had happened in the library — to face the outbreak of a serious scandal, on his return to the house. And here — when he came back — was nothing to face! Here were three people (Sir Patrick, Arnold, and Blanche) who must at least know that Anne was in some serious trouble keeping the secret as carefully as if they felt that his interests were at stake! And, more wonderful still, here was Anne herself — so far from raising a hue and cry after him — actually taking flight without saying a word that could compromise him with any living soul!

What in the name of wonder did it mean? He did his best to find his way to an explanation of some sort; and he actually contrived to account for the silence of Blanche and her uncle, and Arnold. It was pretty clear that they must have all three combined to keep Lady Lundie in ignorance of her runaway governess’s return to the house.

But the secret of Anne’s silence completely baffled him.

He was simply incapable of conceiving that the horror of seeing herself set up as an obstacle to Blanche’s marriage might have been vivid enough to overpower all sense of her own wrongs, and to hurry her away, resolute, in her ignorance of what else to do, never to return again, and never to let living eyes rest on her in the character of Arnold’s wife. “It’s clean beyond my making out,” was the final conclusion at which Geoffrey arrived. “If it’s her interest to hold her tongue, it’s my interest to hold mine, and there’s an end of it for the present!”

He put up his feet on a chair, and rested his magnificent muscles after his walk, and filled another pipe, in thorough contentment with himself. No interference to dread from Anne, no more awkward questions (on the terms they were on now) to come from Arnold. He looked back at the quarrel on the heath with a certain complacency — he did his friend justice; though they had disagreed. “Who would have thought the fellow had so much pluck in him!” he said to himself as he struck the match and lit his second pipe.

An hour more wore on; and Sir Patrick was the next person who returned.

He was thoughtful, but in no sense depressed. Judging by appearances, his errand to Craig Fernie had certainly not ended in disappointment. The old gentleman hummed his favorite little Scotch air — rather absently, perhaps — and took his pinch of snuff from the knob of his ivory cane much as usual. He went to the library bell and summoned a servant.

“Any body been here for me?”—“No, Sir Patrick.”—“No letters?”—“No, Sir Patrick.”—“Very well. Come up stairs to my room, and help me on with my dressing-gown.” The man helped him to his dressing-gown and slippers “Is Miss Lundie at home?”—“No, Sir Patrick. They’re all away with my lady on an excursion.”—“Very good. Get me a cup of coffee; and wake me half an hour before dinner, in case I take a nap.” The servant went out. Sir Patrick stretched himself on the sofa. “Ay! ay! a little aching in the back, and a certain stiffness in the legs. I dare say the pony feels just as I do. Age, I suppose, in both cases? Well! well! well! let’s try and be young at heart. ‘The rest’ (as Pope says) ‘is leather and prunella.’” He returned resignedly to his little Scotch air. The servant came in with the coffee. And then the room was quiet, except for the low humming of insects and the gentle rustling of the creepers at the window. For five minutes or so Sir Patrick sipped his coffee, and meditated — by no means in the character of a man who was depressed by any recent disappointment. In five minutes more he was asleep.

A little later, and the party returned from the ruins.

With the one exception of their lady-leader, the whole expedition was depressed — Smith and Jones, in particular, being quite speechless. Lady Lundie alone still met feudal antiquities with a cheerful front. She had cheated the man who showed the ruins of his shilling, and she was thoroughly well satisfied with herself. Her voice was flute-like in its melody, and the celebrated “smile” had never been in better order. “Deeply interesting!” said her ladyship, descending from the carriage with ponderous grace, and addressing herself to Geoffrey, lounging under the portico of the house. “You have had a loss, Mr. Delamayn. The next time you go out for a walk, give your hostess a word of warning, and you won’t repent it.” Blanche (looking very weary and anxious) questioned the servant, the moment she got in, about Arnold and her uncle. Sir Patrick was invisible up stairs. Mr. Brinkworth had not come back. It wanted only twenty minutes of dinner-time; and full evening-dress was insisted on at Windygates. Blanche, nevertheless, still lingered in the hall in the hope of seeing Arnold before she went up stairs. The hope was realized. As the clock struck the quarter he came in. And he, too, was out of spirits like the rest!

“Have you seen her?” asked Blanche.

“No,” said Arnold, in the most perfect good faith. “The way she has escaped by is not the way by the cross-roads — I answer for that.”

They separated to dress. When the party assembled again, in the library, before dinner, Blanche found her way, the moment he entered the room, to Sir Patrick’s side.

“News, uncle! I’m dying for news.”

“Good news, my dear — so far.”

“You have found Anne?”

“Not exactly that.”

“You have heard of her at Craig Fernie?”

“I have made some important discoveries at Craig Fernie, Blanche. Hush! here’s your step-mother. Wait till after dinner, and you may hear more than I can tell you now. There may be news from the station between this and then.”

The dinner was a wearisome ordeal to at least two other persons present besides Blanche. Arnold, sitting opposite to Geoffrey, without exchanging a word with him, felt the altered relations between his former friend and himself very painfully. Sir Patrick, missing the skilled hand of Hester Dethridge in every dish that was offered to him, marked the dinner among the wasted opportunities of his life, and resented his sister-in-law’s flow of spirits as something simply inhuman under present circumstances. Blanche followed Lady Lundie into the drawing-room in a state of burning impatience for the rising of the gentlemen from their wine. Her step-mother — mapping out a new antiquarian excursion for the next day, and finding Blanche’s ears closed to her occasional remarks on baronial Scotland five hundred years since — lamented, with satirical emphasis, the absence of an intelligent companion of her own sex; and stretched her majestic figure on the sofa to wait until an audience worthy of her flowed in from the dining-room. Before very long — so soothing is the influence of an after-dinner view of feudal antiquities, taken through the medium of an approving conscience — Lady Lundie’s eyes closed; and from Lady Lundie’s nose there poured, at intervals, a sound, deep like her ladyship’s learning; regular, like her ladyship’s habits — a sound associated with nightcaps and bedrooms, evoked alike by Nature, the leveler, from high and low — the sound (oh, Truth what enormities find publicity in thy name!)— the sound of a Snore.

Free to do as she pleased, Blanche left the echoes of the drawing-room in undisturbed enjoyment of Lady Lundie’s audible repose.

She went into the library, and turned over the novels. Went out again, and looked across the hall at the dining-room door. Would the men never have done talking their politics and drinking their wine? She went up to her own room, and changed her ear-rings, and scolded her maid. Descended once more — and made an alarming discovery in a dark corner of the hall.

Two men were standing there, hat in hand whispering to the butler. The butler, leaving them, went into the dining-room — came out again with Sir Patrick — and said to the two men, “Step this way, please.” The two men came out into the light. Murdoch, the station-master; and Duncan, the valet! News of Anne!

“Oh, uncle, let me stay!” pleaded Blanche.

Sir Patrick hesitated. It was impossible to say — as matters stood at that moment — what distressing intelligence the two men might not have brought of the missing woman. Duncan’s return, accompanied by the station-master, looked serious. Blanche instantly penetrated the secret of her uncle’s hesitation. She turned pale, and caught him by the arm. “Don’t send me away,” she whispered. “I can bear any thing but suspense.”

“Out with it!” said Sir Patrick, holding his niece’s hand. “Is she found or not?”

“She’s gone by the up-train,” said the station-master. “And we know where.”

Sir Patrick breathed freely; Blanche’s color came back. In different ways, the relief to both of them was equally great.

“You had my orders to follow her,” said Sir Patrick to Duncan. “Why have you come back?”

“Your man is not to blame, Sir,” interposed the station-master. “The lady took the train at Kirkandrew.”

Sir Patrick started and looked at the station-master. “Ay? ay? The next station — the market-town. Inexcusably stupid of me. I never thought of that.”

“I took the liberty of telegraphing your description of the lady to Kirkandrew, Sir Patrick, in case of accidents.”

“I stand corrected, Mr. Murdoch. Your head, in this matter, has been the sharper head of the two. Well?”

“There’s the answer, Sir.”

Sir Patrick and Blanche read the telegram together.

“Kirkandrew. Up train. 7.40 P.M. Lady as described. No luggage. Bag in her hand. Traveling alone. Ticket — second-class. Place — Edinburgh.”

“Edinburgh!” repeated Blanche. “Oh, uncle! we shall lose her in a great place like that!”

“We shall find her, my dear; and you shall see how. Duncan, get me pen, ink, and paper. Mr. Murdoch, you are going back to the station, I suppose?”

“Yes, Sir Patrick.”

“I will give you a telegram, to be sent at once to Edinburgh.”

He wrote a carefully-worded telegraphic message, and addressed it to The Sheriff of Mid–Lothian.

“The Sheriff is an old friend of mine,” he explained to his niece. “And he is now in Edinburgh. Long before the train gets to the terminus he will receive this personal description of Miss Silvester, with my request to have all her movements carefully watched till further notice. The police are entirely at his disposal; and the best men will be selected for the purpose. I have asked for an answer by telegraph. Keep a special messenger ready for it at the station, Mr. Murdoch. Thank you; good-evening. Duncan, get your supper, and make yourself comfortable. Blanche, my dear, go back to the drawing-room, and expect us in to tea immediately. You will know where your friend is before you go to bed to-night.”

With those comforting words he returned to the gentlemen. In ten minutes more they all appeared in the drawing-room; and Lady Lundie (firmly persuaded that she had never closed her eyes) was back again in baronial Scotland five hundred years since.

Blanche, watching her opportunity, caught her uncle alone.

“Now for your promise,” she said. “You have made some important discoveries at Craig Fernie. What are they?”

Sir Patrick’s eye turned toward Geoffrey, dozing in an arm-chair in a corner of the room. He showed a certain disposition to trifle with the curiosity of his niece.

“After the discovery we have already made,” he said, “can’t you wait, my dear, till we get the telegram from Edinburgh?”

“That is just what it’s impossible for me to do! The telegram won’t come for hours yet. I want something to go on with in the mean time.”

She seated herself on a sofa in the corner opposite Geoffrey, and pointed to the vacant place by her side.

Sir Patrick had promised — Sir Patrick had no choice but to keep his word. After another look at Geoffrey, he took the vacant place by his niece.

http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/c/collins/wilkie/man-and-wife/chapter23.html

Last updated Thursday, March 13, 2014 at 21:30