“I beg your pardon, Sir Charles. Yes, Sir Charles, he did.”
“What did he want?”
“He came to enquire after Miss Damaris, Sir Charles. I understood him to say he was going away to sea shortly.”
“Did he ask for me?”
“No, Sir Charles,” rather hurriedly; and later, with visible effort to recapture the perfection of well-trained nullity.—“He only asked after Miss Damaris.”
“When he calls again, let me know. Miss Damaris wishes to see him if she is sufficiently well to do so.”
“Very good, Sir Charles.”
And during this conversation, Felicia felt keenly distressed and perplexed. It made her miserable to think evil of anyone—particularly an old and trusted servant. But from the moment of her arrival Hordle’s manner had seemed so very strange. Of course it was horrid even to suspect such a thing; but was it possible that he over-indulged sometimes, that he, in plain English, drank? Poor dear Charles—if he knew it, what an additional worry! It really was too deplorable.—Anyway she could alleviate his worries to a certain extent by carrying Theresa off. She would do so at once.—Was there an evening train from Stourmouth, which stopped at Paulton Halt? Well—if there wasn’t she must get out at Marychurch, and drive from there. She only trusted she would be in time to dress for dinner. Harriet was such a stickler for etiquette.
From all which it may be deduced that the confessions, made to Miss Verity to-day, had this in common with those habitually heard by her—that the point of the story had been rather carefully left out.
IN WHICH DAMARIS RECEIVES INFORMATION OF THE LOST SHOES AND STOCKINGS—ASSUMPTION OF THE GOD-HEAD
As Darcy Faircloth prophesied, the wild weather lasted throughout that week. Then, the rain having rained itself out, the wind backed and the skies cleared. But all to a different mode and rhythm. A cold white sun shone out of a cold blue sky, diapered, to the north above the indigo and umber moorland and forest, with perspectives of tenuous silken-white cloud. Land and sky were alike washed clean, to a starkness and nakedness calling for warm clothing out of doors, and well-stoked fires within.
At the beginning of the next week, invited by that thin glinting sunshine—beneath which the sea still ran high, in long, hollow-backed waves, brokenly foam-capped and swirling—Damaris came forth from her retreat, sufficiently convalescent to take up the ordinary routine of life again. But this, also, to a changed mode and rhythm, having its source in causes more recondite and subtle than any matter of fair or foul weather.