This was a bitter blow to add to all the rest, but Virgie, conscious of her own purity, bore it with Spartan-like heroism.
She cast one look of scorn upon the man before her, then said, with a calmness that was born of despair:
“Sir, I still assert, in the face of all that you have just said, that I am the wife of Mr.—yes, of Sir William Heath, of Heathdale, Hampshire County, England and some day it will be in my power to prove to you the truth of my words; but I have no wish to occasion you either trouble or loss, so I will go away; to-morrow morning.”
The landlord looked greatly relieved at this assurance and yet he was impressed both by her manner and her words.
He assured her of his sympathy, and kindly offered to assist her in obtaining other rooms and establishing herself in them.
Virgie quietly declined this offer, however, and, thanking her for her speedy compliance with his request Mr. Eldridge took his leave, though, to his credit be it said, with considerable shamefacedness and embarrassment.
The next morning Virgie sent to Dr. Knox for his bill, paid it, dismissed her nurse, notwithstanding her urgent plea to be retained even at reduced wages, and then she quietly disappeared from the place, leaving no trace behind her to point to her destination or future plans, and, after the gossip consequent upon such a choice bit of scandal had died away, she was, for the time at least, forgotten.
Sir William Heath Returns To America.
“I cannot understand it, Miriam. It is the strangest thing in the world, and I shall sail for America on the very next steamer.”
It was Sir William Heath who spoke thus, and there was no mistaking the decision in his voice.
He was sitting at the breakfast-table in the large, sunny dining-room at Heathdale, while the open and empty mail-bag lay upon the table beside him.
There were several letters scattered around his plate, but these were unheeded, while the anxious, perplexed look on the baronet’s fine face told that he was deeply troubled about something.
Lady Linton sat opposite him, and she had been furtively watching him during his examination of the bag. There were two very bright spots upon her cheeks, which might have been caused by her morning drive to the post-office; or they might have been produced by a guilty conscience and anxiety regarding her brother’s announcement.
“Then there is no letter for you this morning?” she remarked, trying to appear unconcerned.
“No; and I am nearly wild with anxiety. I must go to Virgie at once,” Sir William responded, moodily.
“I do not know how mamma will bear the thought of your going,” Lady Linton said, looking grave.
“It cannot harm her. Sir Herbert says she is doing very well, and I might have gone last week but for the severe cold which she took. I must go, Miriam. My wife is more to me than all the world, and this unaccountable silence and suspense is unbearable. I am afraid something dreadful has happened to her, for, just think, I have not heard one word from her since she wrote me after the birth of our little one.”