“I pity her!” she said. “I hate her. Look you, if I have to do this, my only consolation will be in knowing that what I do will drag my successor down below my own level. I suffer; she shall suffer more; I know you a fiend, she shall find a whole hell with you; she is purer and better than I have ever been; soon you shall make her worse than I have dreamt of being. Her purity shall be dishonoured, her love betrayed, her life reduced to such chaos that she shall cease to believe even in her God, and in return for these things I will give her—you. Your new plaything shall pass through my mill, George Caresfoot, before ever she comes to yours; and on her I will repay with interest all that I have suffered at your hands;” and, exhausted with the fierceness of her own invective and the violence of conflicting passions, she sank back into her chair.
“Bravo, Anne! quite in your old style. I daresay that the young lady will require a little moulding, and she could not be in better hands; but mind, no tricks—I am not going to be cheated out of my bride.”
“You need not fear, George; I shall not murder her. I do not believe in violence; it is the last resort of fools. If I did, you would not be alive now.”
George laughed a little uneasily.
“Well, we are good friends again, so there is no need to talk of such things,” he said. “The campaign will not be by any means an easy one— there are many obstacles in the way, and I don’t think that my intended has taken a particular fancy to me. You will have to work for your letters, Anne; but first of all take a day or two to think it over, and make a plan of the campaign. And now good-by; I have got a bad headache, and am going to lie down.”
She rose, and went without another word; but all necessity for setting about her shameful task was soon postponed by news that reached her the next morning, to the effect that George Caresfoot was seriously ill.
The dog-cart that Arthur had hired to take him away belonged to an old-fashioned inn in the parish of Rewtham, situated about a mile from Rewtham House (which had just passed into the hands of the Bellamys), and two from Bratham Abbey, and thither Arthur had himself driven. His Jehu, known through all the country round as “Old Sam,” was an ancient ostler, who had been in the service of the Rewtham “King’s Head,” man and boy, for over fifty years, and from him Arthur collected a good deal of inaccurate information about the Caresfoot family, including a garbled version of all the death of Angela’s mother and Philip’s disinheritance.