“All right.” The voice was that of an automaton. “How shall I send it?”
“Would you—would you trust me to take it?”
“You mean—you’d talk to him?”
“If you gave me leave.”
Rachel thought a little, and then made a scarcely perceptible sign of assent. A few more words passed as to the best time at which to find Ellesborough at leisure. It was decided that Janet should aim at catching him in the midday dinner hour. “I should bicycle, and get home before dark.”
“And now let’s talk of something else,” said Rachel, imperiously.
She found some business letters that had to be answered, and set to work on them. Janet wrote up her milk records and dairy accounts. The fire sank gently to its end. Janet’s cat came with tail outstretched, and rubbed itself sociably, first against Janet’s skirts, and then against Rachel. No trace remained in the little room, where the two women sat at their daily work, of the scene which had passed between them, except in Rachel’s pallor, and the occasional shaking of her hand as it passed over the paper.
Then when Janet put up her papers with a look at the clock, which was just going to strike ten o’clock, Rachel too cleared away, and with that instinct for air and the open which was a relic of her Canadian life, and made any closed room after a time an oppression to her, she threw a cloak over her shoulders, and went out again to breathe the night. There was a young horse who, on the previous day, had needed the vet. She went across the yard to the stable to look at him.
All was well with the horse, whose swollen hock had been comfortably bandaged by Hastings before he left. But as she stood beside him, close to the divided door, opening on the hill, of which both the horizontal halves were now shut, she was aware of certain movements on the other side of the door—some one passing it—footsteps. Her nerves gave a jump. Could it be?—again! Impetuously she went to the door, threw open the upper half, and looked out. Nothing—but the faint starlight on the hill, and the woods crowning it.
“Who’s there?” But no one answered.
Fancy, of course. But with the knowledge she now had, she could not bring herself to go round the farm. Instead she carefully closed the stable shutter, and ran back across the yard into the shelter of the house, locking the front door behind her, and going into the sitting-room and the kitchen, to see that the windows were fastened.
Janet was waiting for her at the top of the stairs. They kissed each other gravely, in silence, like those who feel that the time for speech is done. Then Rachel went into her room, and Janet heard her turn the key. Janet herself slept intermittently. But whenever she woke, it seemed to her that there was some slight sound in the next room—a movement or a rustle, which showed that Rachel was still awake—and up?