“I’m going over to-morrow to a little service—a Thanksgiving service—at Millsborough. I took the girls to church to-day—but I love my own people!” Her face glowed a little.
“Unitarian service, you mean?”
“Yes—we’ve got a little ‘cause’ there, and a minister. The service will be about six, I think. The girls will manage. The minister and his wife want me to stay to supper—but I shall be back in good time.”
“Oh, yes—quite by then. I shall bicycle.”
Through Rachel’s mind there passed a thrill of relief. So Janet would be out of the way. One difficulty removed. Now, to get rid of the girls?
* * * * *
Rachel scarcely slept, and the November day broke grey and misty as before. After breakfast she went out into the fields. Old Halsey was mole-catching in one of them. But instead of going to inspect him and his results, she slipped through a tall hedge, and paced the road under its shelter, looking for Dempsey.
On the stroke of eleven she saw him in the distance. He came up with the same look, half embarrassed, half inclining to laugh, that he had worn the day before. Rachel, on the other hand, was entirely at her ease, and the young man felt her at once his intellectual and social superior.
“You seem to have saved me and my horse from a tumble into that ditch last night,” she said, with a laugh, as she greeted him. “Why I turned faint like that I can’t imagine. I do sometimes when I’m tired. Well, now then—let us walk up the road a little.”
With her hands in her pockets she led the way. In her neat serge suit and cap, she was the woman-farmer—prosperous and competent—all over. Dempsey’s thoughts threw back in bewilderment to the fainting figure of the night before. He walked on beside her in silence.
“I wanted to tell you,” said Miss Henderson calmly—“because I’m sure you’re a nice fellow, and don’t want to hurt anybody’s feelings—why I asked you to hold your tongue about Mrs. Delane. In the first place, you’re quite mistaken about myself. I was never at Mr. Tanner’s farm—never in that part of Canada; and the person you saw there—Mrs. Delane—was a very favourite cousin of mine, and extraordinarily like me. When we were children everybody talked of the likeness. She had a very sad story, and now—she’s dead.” The speaker’s voice dropped. “I’ve been confused with her before—and it’s a great trouble to me. The confusion has done me harm, more than once, and I’m very sensitive about it. So, as I said last night, I should be greatly obliged if you would not only not spread the story, but deny it, whenever you can.”
She looked at him sharply, and he coloured crimson.
“Of course,” he stammered, “I should like to do anything you wish.”
“I do wish it, and—” she paused a moment, as though to think—“and Captain Ellesborough wishes it. I would not advise you, however, to say anything at all about it to him. But if you do what we ask you, you may be sure we shall find some way—some substantial way—of showing that we appreciate it.”