That evening she wrote a note to her husband, saying that she felt that change of air was necessary for her, and that she was going out of London for a few days, to some quiet place, from whence she would write to him. He must not, however, expect many letters, as she wanted complete rest.
On the following morning she went; and, if the sweet spring air did not bring peace to her mind, at any rate, it to a very great extent set up her in strength. She wrote but one letter during her absence, and that was to say that she should be back in London by midday on the first of May. This letter reached Philip on the morning of the great dinner-party, and was either accidentally or on purpose sent without the writer’s address. On the morning of the first of May—that is, two days after the dinner-party, which was given on the twenty-ninth of April—Hilda rose early, and commenced to pack her things with the assistance of a stout servant girl, who did all the odd jobs and a great deal of the work in the old-fashioned farmhouse in which she was staying. Presently the cowboy came whistling up the little garden, bright with crocuses and tulips, that lay in front of the house, and knocked at the front door.
“Lawks!” said the stout girl, in accents of deep surprise, as she drew her head in from the open lattice; “Jim’s got a letter.”
“Perhaps it is for me,” suggested Hilda, a little nervously; she had grown nervous about the post of late. “Will you go and see?”
The letter was for her, in the handwriting of Mrs. Jacobs. She opened it; it contained another addressed in the character the sight of which made her feel sick and faint. She could not trust herself to read it in the presence of the girl.
“Sally,” she said, “I feel rather faint; I shall lie down a little. I will ring for you presently.”
Sally retired, and she opened her letter.
Fifteen minutes after the girl received her summons. She found Hilda very pale, and with a curious look upon her face.
“I hope you’re better, mum,” she said, for she was a kind-hearted girl.
“Better—ah, yes! thank you, Sally; I am cured, quite cured; but please be quick with the things, for I shall leave by the nine o’clock train.”
The night of the dinner-party was a nearly sleepless one for Philip, although his father had so considerately regretted his wearied appearance, he could do nothing but walk, walk, walk, like some unquiet ghost, up and down his great, oak-panelled bedroom, till, about dawn, his legs gave way beneath him; and think, think, think, till his mind recoiled, confused and helpless, from the dead wall of its objects. And, out of all this walking and thinking, there emerged, after an hour of stupor, that it would be a misnomer to call sleep, two fixed results. The first of these was that he hated his father as a lost soul must hate