At that moment the hunt appeared in the field at the bottom of the hill. A grey horse had just got rid of his rider, and after galloping round and round, his head in the air, stopped and began to graze. The others jumped the hedge, and the greater part of the field got over the brook in capital style. Emily and Hubert watched them with delighted eyes, for the sight was indeed picturesque this fine autumn day. Even their horse pricked up his ears and began neighing, and Hubert had to hold him tight in hand, lest he should break away while they were enjoying the spectacle. At that moment a poor little animal, with fear-haunted eyes, and in all the agony of fatigue, appeared above the crest of the hill, and immediately after came the straining hounds, one within a dozen yards of the poor little beast, now running in a circle, uttering the most plaintive and pitiful cries.
‘Oh, they are not going to kill it!’ cried Emily. ’Oh, save it, save it, Hubert!’ She hid her face in her hands. ‘Did it escape? is it killed?’ she said, looking round. ‘Oh, it is too cruel!’ The huntsman was calling to the hounds, holding something above them, and at every moment horses’ heads appeared over the brow of the hill.
There was more hunting; and when the October night began to gather, and the lurid sunset flared up in the west, Hubert got out another wrap, and placed it about Emily’s shoulders. But although the chill night had drawn them close together in the dog-cart, they were as widely separated as if oceans were between them. So far as lay in his power he had hidden the annoyance that the intrusion of her society had occasioned him; and, to deceive her, very little concealment was necessary. So long as she saw him she seemed to live in a dream, unconscious of every other thought.
They rolled through a gradual effacement of things, seeing the lights of the farmhouses in the long plain start into existence, and then remain fixed, like gold beetles pinned on a blue curtain. The chill evening drew her to him, till they seemed one; and full of the intimate happiness of the senses which comes of a long day spent in the open air, she chattered of indifferent things. He thought how pleasant the drive would be were he with Mrs. Bentley—or, for the matter of that, with any one with whom he could talk about the novel that had interested him. They rolled along the smooth wide road, watching the streak of light growing narrower in a veil of light grey cloud drawn athwart the sky. Overpowered by her love, the girl hardly noticed his silence; and when they passed through the night of an overhanging wood her flesh thrilled, and a little faintness came over her; for the leaves that brushed her face had seemed like a kiss from her lover.
One afternoon, about the end of September, Hubert came down from his study about tea-time, and announced that he had written the last scene of his last act. Emily was alone in the drawing-room.