Mutely the old man stood and watched her in the silence, thankful for her composure. He was himself severely shaken, and the ordeal of telling her had been no light one.
But as the silence still continued he began to grow uneasy again. He wondered if he ought to go, if she had forgotten to dismiss him. Her stately head was bent over the paper, which never crackled or stirred in her hand. There began to be something terrible, something fateful, in her passivity. Old Dimsdale shivered, and took the liberty of breaking the silence.
“Would your ladyship wish a message to be sent to Baronmead?”
She stirred at that, moved sharply as one suddenly awakened. Her face was quite white, but her eyes were alight, curiously vital, with a glitter that was almost of horror.
“To Baronmead!” she said, a queer note of sharpness in her voice. “No, certainly not, most certainly not!”
And there she stopped, stopped dead as though struck dumb. In the garden behind her, down among the lilac trees, a bird had begun to sing, eagerly, voluptuously, thrillingly, with a rapture as of the full spring-tide of life.
Anne stood for a space of many seconds and listened, her white face upraised, her eyes wide and shining.
And then suddenly her attitude changed. She put her hands over her face and tottered blindly from the open window.
Dimsdale started to support her, but she needed no support. In a moment she was looking at him again, but with eyes from which all light had faded.
“I must write some messages at once,” she said. “One of the grooms must take them. No, I shall not send to Mrs. Errol to-night. I wish to be alone—quite alone. Please admit no one. And—yes—tell them to pull down the blinds, and—shut all the windows!”
Her voice quivered and sank. She stood a moment, collecting herself, then walked quietly to the door.
“Come to me in ten minutes for those telegrams,” she said. “And after that, remember, Dimsdale, I am not to be disturbed by anyone.”
And with that she passed out, erect and calm, and went up to her room.
THE WORKER OF MIRACLES
“I want to know!” said Capper.
He had said it several times during a muddy two-mile tramp from Baronford Station, and he said it again as he turned up the hill that was crowned by the old grey church, whose two cracked bells had just burst into as cheerful a marriage peal as they could compass.
“Sounds frisky!” he commented to himself, as he trudged up the steep lane. “My! What an all-fired fuss! Guess these muddy boots aren’t exactly wedding-guesty. But that’s their lookout for monopolising every vehicle in the place. I wonder if I’ll have the audacity to show after all. Or shall I carry this almighty thirst of mine back to the Carfax Arms and quench it in British ale?”