Her voice faltered, and he looked up sharply.
“In love”—she smiled, but passing faintly—“it’s the little things, is it not? It’s the little things that count.”
She touched his sleeve again, and passed into the room, leaving him there at a standstill, as Endymion and the Commandant came round the corner at the far end of the corridor.
“Excuse me,” said Endymion, and, stepping past Raoul without a glance, looked into the surgery. After a moment he shut the door quietly, and, standing with his back to it, addressed the prisoner: “I perceive, sir, that my sister has told you the news. We have effected an exchange for you, and the Commandant tells me that to-morrow, if the roads permit, you will be sent down to Plymouth and released. It is unnecessary for you to thank me; it would, indeed, be offensive. I wish you a safe passage home, and pray heaven to spare me the annoyance of seeing your face again.”
As Raoul bowed and moved away, dragging his feet weakly in their list slippers, Mr. Westcote turned to the Commandant, who during this address had kept a discreet distance.
“With your leave, we will continue our stroll, and return for my sister in a few minutes.”
The Commandant jumped at the suggestion.
Dorothea heard their footsteps retreating, and knew that her brother’s thoughtfulness had found her this short respite. She had dropped into the orderly’s chair, and now bowed her head upon the prison doctor’s ledger, which lay open on the table before it.
“Oh, my love! How could you do it? How could you? How could you?”
THE NEW DOROTHEA
Two hours later they set out on their homeward journey.
The Commandant, still voluble, escorted them to the gate. As Dorothea climbed into the chaise and Endymion shook up the rugs and cushions, a large brown-paper parcel rolled out upon the snow. She gave a little cry of dismay:
“We forgot to deliver them.”
“Oh, confound the things!”
Endymion was for pitching them back into the chaise.
“But no!” she entreated. “Why, Narcissus believes it was to deliver them that we came!”
So the Commandant amiably charged himself to hand
the parcel to
M. Raoul, and waved his adieux with it as the chaise rolled away.
Of what had passed between Dorothea and Raoul at the surgery door Endymion knew nothing; but he had guessed at once, and now was assured by the tone in which she had spoken of the drawings, that the chapter was closed, the danger past. Coming, brother and sister had scarcely exchanged a word for miles together. Now they found themselves chatting without effort about the landscape, the horses’ pace, the Commandant and his hospitality, the arrangements of the prison, and the prospects of a cosy dinner at Moreton Hampstead. It was all the smallest of small talk, and just what might be expected of two reputable middle-aged persons returning in a post-chaise from a mild jaunt; yet beneath it ran a current of feeling. In their different ways, each had been moved; each had relied upon the other for a degree of help which could not be asked in words, and had not been disappointed.