Thus she was landed at Portsmouth, and walked up the street to the Spotted Dog, where Lady Worsley was taking an early noonchine before starting for London, having crossed from the little fishing village of Ryde. Here Anne parted with her uncle, who promised an early letter, though she could hardly restrain a shudder at the thought of the tidings that it might contain.
CHAPTER XV: NEWS FROM FAREHAM
“My soul its secret hath, my life too hath its mystery. Hopeless the evil is, I have not told its history.”
Lady Worsley was a handsome, commanding old dame, who soon made her charge feel the social gulf between a county magnate and a clergyman’s niece. She decidedly thought that Mistress Anne Jacobina held her head too high for her position, and was, moreover, conceited of an unfortunate amount of good looks.
Therefore the good lady did her best to repress these dangerous tendencies by making the girl sit on the back seat with two maids, and uttering long lectures on humility, modesty, and discretion which made the blood of the sea-captain’s daughter boil with indignation.
Yet she always carried with her the dread of being pursued and called upon to accuse Charles Archfield of Peregrine’s death. It was a perpetual cloud, dispersed, indeed, for a time by the events of the day, but returning at night, when not only was the combat acted over again, but when she fell asleep it was only to be pursued by Peregrine through endless vaulted dens of darkness, or, what was far worse, to be trying to hide a stream of blood that could never be stanched.
It was no wonder that she looked pale in the morning, and felt so tired and dejected as to make her sensible that she was cast loose from home and friends when no one troubled her with remarks or inquiries such as she could hardly have answered. However, when, on the evening of the second day’s journey, Anne was set down at Sir Theophilus Oglethorpe’s house at Westminster, she met with a very different reception.
Lady Oglethorpe, a handsome, warm-hearted Irish woman, met her at once in the hall with outstretched hands, and a kiss on each cheek.
“Come in, my dear, my poor orphan, the daughter of one who was very dear to me! Ah, how you have grown! I could never have thought this was the little Anne I recollect. You shall come up to your chamber at once, and rest you, and make ready for supper, by the time Sir Theophilus comes in from attending the King.”
Anne found herself installed in a fresh-smelling wainscotted room, where a glass of wine and some cake was ready for her, and where she made herself ready, feeling exhilarated in spirits as she performed her toilette, putting on her black evening dress, and refreshing the curls of her brown hair. It was a simple dress of deep mourning, but it became her well, and the two or three gentlemen who had come in to supper with Sir Theophilus evidently admired her greatly, and complimented her on having a situation at Court, which was all that Lady Oglethorpe mentioned.