And without more ceremony, and with a darkening face, Philip Feltram made his way under the boughs of the thick oaks that grew there, leaving on Sir Bale’s mind an impression that he had been watching some one at a distance, and had gone in consequence of a signal.
In a few seconds he followed in the same direction, halloaing after Feltram; for he did not like the idea of his wandering about the country by moonlight, or possibly losing his life among the precipices, and bringing a new discredit upon his house. But no answer came; nor could he in that thick copse gain sight of him again.
When Sir Bale reached Mardykes Hall he summoned Mrs. Julaper, and had a long talk with her. But she could not say that there appeared anything amiss with Philip Feltram; only he seemed more reserved, and as if he was brooding over something he did not intend to tell.
“But, you know, Sir Bale, what happened might well make a thoughtful man of him. If he’s ever to think of Death, it should be after looking him so hard in the face; and I’m not ashamed to say, I’m glad to see he has grace to take the lesson, and I hope his experiences may be sanctified to him, poor fellow! Amen.”
“Very good song, and very well sung,” said Sir Bale; “but it doesn’t seem to me that he has been improved, Mrs. Julaper. He seems, on the contrary, in a queer temper and anything but a heavenly frame of mind; and I thought I’d ask you, because if he is ill—I mean feverish—it might account for his eccentricities, as well as make it necessary to send after him, and bring him home, and put him to bed. But I suppose it is as you say,—his adventure has upset him a little, and he’ll sober in a day or two, and return to his old ways.”
But this did not happen. A change, more comprehensive than at first appeared, had taken place, and a singular alteration was gradually established.
He grew thin, his eyes hollow, his face gradually forbidding.
His ways and temper were changed: he was a new man with Sir Bale; and the Baronet after a time, people said, began to grow afraid of him. And certainly Feltram had acquired an extraordinary influence over the Baronet, who a little while ago had regarded and treated him with so much contempt.
The Purse of Gold
The Baronet was very slightly known in his county. He had led a reserved and inhospitable life. He was pressed upon by heavy debts; and being a proud man, held aloof from society and its doings. He wished people to understand that he was nursing his estate; but somehow the estate did not thrive at nurse. In the country other people’s business is admirably well known; and the lord of Mardykes was conscious, perhaps, that his neighbours knew as well he did, that the utmost he could do was to pay the interest charged upon it, and to live in a frugal way enough.