“My dear, my dear, you are upset to talk so.”
“Oh! no, I am not upset; but did you ever have a presentiment?”
“Plenty; but never one that came true.”
“Well, I have a presentiment now—yes, a presentiment—it caught me in the mist.”
“What is it? I am anxious to hear.”
“I don’t know—I cannot say; it is not clear in my mind. I cannot see it, but it is evil, and it has to do with that evil woman.”
“Come, Angela, you must not give way to this sort of thing; you will make yourself ill. Sit down, there is a good girl, and have some tea.”
She was standing by the window staring out into the mist, her fingers alternately intertwining and unlacing themselves, whilst an unusual— almost an unearthly expression, played upon her face. Turning, she obeyed him.
“You need not fear for me. I am tough, and growing used to troubles. What was it you said? Oh! tea. Thank you; that reminds me. Will you come and have dinner with me to-morrow after church? It is Christmas Day, you know. Pigott has given me a turkey she has been fatting, and I made the mincemeat myself, so there will be plenty to eat if we can find the heart to eat it.”
“But your father, my dear?”
“Oh! you need not be afraid. I have got permission to ask you. What do you think? I actually talked to my father for ten whole minutes yesterday; he wanted to avoid me when he saw me, but I caught him in a corner. He took advantage of the opportunity to try to prevent me from going to see Pigott, but I would not listen to him, so he gave it up. What did he mean by that? Why did he send her away? What does it all mean? Oh! Arthur, when will you come back, Arthur?” and, to Mr. Fraser’s infinite distress, she burst into tears.
Presentiments are no doubt foolish things, and yet, at the time that Angela was speaking of hers to Mr. Fraser, a consultation was going on in a back study at Isleworth that might almost have justified it. The fire was the only light in the room, and gathered round it, talking very low, their features thrown alternately into strong light and dark shadow, were George Caresfoot and Sir John and Lady Bellamy. It was evident from the strong expression of interest, almost of excitement, on their faces that they were talking of some matter of great importance.
Sir John was, as usual, perched on the edge of his chair, rubbing his dry hands and eliciting occasional sparks in the shape of remarks, but he was no longer merry; indeed, he looked ill at ease. George, his red hair all rumpled up, and his long limbs thrust out towards the fire, spoke scarcely at all, but glued his little bloodshot eyes alternately on the faces of his companions, and only contributed an occasional chuckle. But the soul of this witches’ gathering was evidently Lady Bellamy. She was standing up, and energetically detailing some scheme, the great pupils of her eyes expanding and contracting as the unholy flame within them rose and fell.