The rector admitted that she might be right, but after Dot had gone to bed he leaned his elbow on his writing-table and sat long in thought.
“I wonder,” he murmured to himself presently, “I wonder if Lady Carfax knows what she is doing. She really is too young, poor girl, to be so much alone.”
A QUESTION OF TRUST
The theatricals were arranged to take place on an evening in the beginning of July, and for that one night Mrs. Errol persuaded Anne to sleep at Baronmead. She would not consent to leave the Manor for longer, for she still superintended much of the management of the estate and overlooked the agent’s work. She had begun to wonder if all her days would be spent thus, for the reports which reached her regularly of her husband’s state of health were seldom of a hopeful nature. In fact they varied very little, and a brain specialist had given it as his opinion that, though it was impossible to speak with certainty, Sir Giles might remain in his present condition of insanity for years, even possibly for as long as he lived. He was the last of his family, and the title would die with him. And Anne wondered—often she wondered—if it were to be her lot to live out the rest of her life alone.
She did not mind solitude, nor was she altogether unhappy, but she was too young not to feel now and then the deep stirrings of her youth. And she had lived so little in all her twenty-five years of life. Yet with that habit of self-control which had grown up with her, and which made many think her cold, she would not suffer her thoughts to dwell upon past or future. Her world was very small, and, as she had once told Nap, she contented herself with “the work that was nearest”. If it did not greatly warm her heart, it kept her from brooding over trouble.
On the morning of the day fixed for the theatricals he came over in the motor to fetch her. It was a glorious day of summer, and Anne was in the garden. He joined her there, and they walked for awhile in the green solitudes, talking of the coming entertainment.
They came in their wanderings to the seat under the lilac trees. She wondered afterwards if he had purposely directed their steps thither. They had not been together there since that night when the lilac had been in bloom, that night of perfect spring, the night when their compact had been made and sealed. Did he think of it, she wondered as they passed. If so, he made no sign, but talked on in casual strain as if she were no more than the most casual of friends. Very faithfully he had kept his part of the compact, so faithfully that when they were past she was conscious of a sense of chill mingling with her relief. He had stifled his passion for her, it seemed, and perhaps it was only by comparison that his friendship felt so cold and measured.