“Poor dear, she has been going on like that, off and on, all night. It clean broke my heart to see it, and that’s the holy truth,” and Pigott looked very much as though she were going to cry herself.
By this time Angela had ceased weeping, and was brooding sullenly, with her face buried in the pillow.
“There is absolutely nothing to be done,” said the doctor. “We can only trust to her fine constitution and youth to pull her through. She has received a series of dreadful mental shocks, and it is very doubtful if she will ever get over them. It is a pity to think that such a splendid creature may become permanently insane, is it not? You must be very careful, Pigott, that she does not do herself an injury; she is just in the state that she may throw herself out of the window or cut her throat. And now I must be going; I will call in again to-night.”
Mr. Fraser accompanied him down to the gate, where he had left his trap. Before they got out of the front door, Angela had roused herself again, and they could hear her beginning to quote Homer, and then breaking out into snatches of her sailor-songs.
aloft amongst the rigging
Sings the loud exulting gale.’
“That’s like me. I sing too,” and then followed peal upon peal of mad laughter.
“A very sad case! She has a poor chance, I fear.”
Mr. Fraser was too much affected to answer him.
Public feeling in Marlshire was much excited about the Caresfoot tragedy, and, when it became known that Lady Bellamy had attempted to commit suicide, the excitement was trebled. It is not often that the dullest and most highly respectable part of an eminently dull and respectable county gets such a chance of cheerful and interesting conversation as these two events gave rise to. We may be sure that the godsend was duly appreciated; indeed, the whole story is up to this hour a favourite subject of conversation in those parts.
Of course the members of the polite society of the neighbourhood of Roxham were divided into two camps. The men all thought that Angela had been shamefully treated, the elder and most intensely respectable ladies for the most part inclined to the other side of the question. It not being their habit to look at matters from the same point of view in which they present themselves to a man’s nicer sense of honour, they could see no great harm in George Caresfoot’s stratagems. A man so rich, they argued, was perfectly entitled to buy his wife. The marriage had been arranged, like their own, on the soundest property basis, and the woman who rose in rebellion against a husband merely because she loved another man, or some such romantic nonsense, deserved all she got. Gone mad, had she?—well, it was a warning! And these aristocratic matrons sniffed and turned up their noses. They felt that Angela, by going mad and creating a public excitement, had entered a mute protest against the recognized rules of marriage sale-and-barter as practised in this country—and Zululand. Having daughters to dispose of, they resented this, and poor Angela was for years afterwards spoken of among them as that “immoral girl.”