An hour dragged itself by before she arose petulantly, half terrified, half annoyed in spite of herself. Her husband still was sitting in the big chair, his face in his hands. His small, dejected figure appealed to her pity for the first time in the two years of their association. She realized what her temper had compelled her to say to him and to his sister; she saw the insults that at least one of them had come to resent.
“I hope that foolish girl will come back,” she found herself saying, with a troubled look from the window. “Where can the poor thing go? What will become of her? What will everyone say when this becomes known?” she cried, with fresh selfishness. “I—I should not have let her go like this.”
Even as she reproached herself, a light broke in upon her understanding; a thought whirled into her brain and a moment later a shrill, angry, hysterical laugh came from her lips.
“She knew where she could go! How simple I am. Shaw will welcome her gladly. She’s with him by this time—his doors have opened to her. The little wretch! And I’ve been trying so hard to pity her!” She laughed again so shrilly that his lordship stirred and then looked up at her stupefied, uncertain.
“Hullo,” he grunted. “What time is it?”
“Oh, you’re awake, are you?” scornfully.
“Certainly. Have I been dozing? What’s there to laugh at, my dear?” he mumbled, arising very unsteadily. “Where’s Pen?”
“She’s gone. She’s left the house,” she said, recurring dread and anxiety in her voice. A glance at the darkness outside brought back the growing shudders.
“What—what d’ye mean?” demanded he, bracing up with a splendid effort.
“She’s left the house, that’s all. We quarrelled. I don’t know where she’s gone. Yes, I do know. She’s gone to Shaw’s for the night. She’s with him. I saw her going,” she cried, striving between fear and anger.
“You’ve—you’ve turned her out?” gasped Lord Bazelhurst, numbly. “In the night? Good Lord, why—why did you let her go?” He turned and rushed toward the door, tears springing to his eyes. He was sobering now and the tears were wrenched from his hurt pride. “How long ago?”
“An hour or more. She went of her own accord. You’ll find her at Shaw’s,” said her ladyship harshly. She hated to admit that she was to blame. But as her husband left the room, banging the door after him, she caught her breath several times in a futile effort to stay the sobs, and then broke down and cried, a very much abused young woman. She hated everybody and everything.
IN WHICH DAN CUPID TRESPASSES
Lady Bazelhurst was right. Penelope was making her way through the blackest of nights toward the home of Randolph Shaw. In deciding upon this step, after long deliberation, she had said to herself: “Randolph Shaw is the only real man I’ve seen since coming to the mountains. I can trust him to help me to-night.”