He wandered off to the library, muttering to himself, with his book under his arm, and the five-pound note gripped tightly in the hand which he had thrust into the pocket of his dressing-gown; and Ida, as she put on her habit and went into the stable-yard to have the colt saddled, sighed as she thought that it would be nice to have just, for once, enough money to meet all the bills and buy all the books her father coveted.
But her melancholy was not of long duration. The colt was in high spirits, and the task of impressing him with the fact that he had now reached a responsible age and must behave like a horse, with something else before him in life than kicking up his heels in the paddock, soon drove the thought of their poverty from her mind and sent the blood leaping warmly and wildly in her veins.
She spent the afternoon in breaking in the colt, and succeeded in keeping Stafford Orme out of her thoughts; but he slid into them again as she sat by the drawing-room fire after dinner—the nights are often cool in the dales all through early summer—and recalled the earnestness in his handsome face when he pleaded to be allowed to “help her.”
She sat up for some little time after her father had gone to bed, and as usual, she paused outside his door and listened. All was quiet then; but as she was brushing her hair she thought she heard his door open.
She laid down the brush and stood battling with the sudden fear which possessed her; then she stole out on to the corridor. The old man was standing at the head of the stairs as if about to descend; and though she could not see his face she knew that he was asleep.
She glided to him noiselessly and put her hand upon his arm softly. He turned his sightless eyes upon her, evidently without seeing her, and, fighting against the desire to cry out, she led him gently back to his room.
He woke as they crossed the threshold, woke and looked at her in a stupefied fashion.
“Are you ill, father? Is there anything you want?” she asked, as calmly as she could.
“No,” he replied. “I am quite well; I do not want anything. I was going to bed—why have you called me?”
She remained with him for a few minutes, then left the room, turning the key in the door. When she had gone he stood listening with his head on one side; then he opened his hand and looked with a cunning smile at the five-pound note which had been tightly grasped in it.
“She didn’t see it; no, she didn’t see it!” he muttered; and he went stealthily to the bed and thrust it under the pillow.
The morning broke with that exquisite clearness which distinguishes the lakes when a fine day follows a wet one; and, despite her anxiety on her father’s account, Ida, as she went down-stairs, was conscious of that sense of happiness which comes from anticipation. She made her morning tour of inspection of the stables and the dairy, and ordered the big chestnut to be saddled directly after breakfast.