“Feel!” cry I, driven out of all moderation by disgust and exasperation. “Would you like to know how I feel? I feel as if a slug had crawled over me!”
His face contracts, his eyes darken with a raging pain. He throws my hands—the hands a moment ago so jealously clasped—away from him.
“Thank you!” he says, after a pause, in a stiff voice of constraint. “I am satisfied!”
“And a very good thing too!” say I, sturdily, still at boiling-point, and diminishing with quick steps the small space still intervening between me and the road.
“Stay!” he says, overtaking me once again, as I reach it, and laying his hand in detention on my arm. “One word more! I should be sorry to part from you—such friends as we have been”—(with a sneer)—“without one good wish. Lady Tempest, I hope”—(smiling with malevolent irony)—“that your fidelity will be rewarded as it deserves.”
“I have no doubt of it!” reply I, steadily; but even as I speak, a sharp jealous pain runs through my heart. Thank God! he cannot see it!
Yes, here out in the open it is still quite light; it seems two hours earlier than it did below in the dark dingle—light enough as plainly to see the faces of those one meets as if it were mid-day. I suppose that my late companion and I were too much occupied by our own emotions to hear, or at least notice the sound of wheels approaching us; but no sooner have I turned and left him, before I have gone three paces, than I am quickly passed by an open carriage and pair of grays—quickly and yet slowly enough for me to recognize the one occupant. As to her—for it is Mrs. Huntley—she must have seen me already, as I stood with Mr. Musgrave on the edge of the wood, exchanging our last bitter words.
It is impossible that she could have helped it; but even had it been possible—had there been any doubt on the subject, that doubt would be removed by the unusual animation of her attitude, and the interest in her eyes, that I have time to notice, as she rolls past me.
I avert my face, but it is too late. She has seen my hat thrown on anyhow, as it were with a pitchfork—has seen my face swollen with weeping, and great tears still standing unwiped on my flushed cheeks. What is far, far worse, she has seen him, too. This is the last drop in an already over-full cup.
There is nothing in sight now—not even a cart—so I sit down on a heap of stones by the road-side, and, covering my hot face with my hands, cry till I have no more eyes left to cry with. Can this be the day I called good? Can this be that bright and merry day, when I walked elate and laughing between the deep furrows, and heard the blackbird and thrush woo their new loves, nor was able myself to refrain from singing?