“One moment,” she said.
She stepped across the room to her writing-table, beckoning the maid to come inside and shut the door; then she wrote rapidly for a minute or so, enclosed her note, directed it, and gave it to the girl.
“Just send up someone at once, will you, with this to Father Mahon—on a bicycle.”
When the maid was gone, she waited still for an instant looking across the dark landing, expectant of some sound or movement. But all was still. A line of light showed only under the door where the boy who was called Laurie Baxter stood or sat. At least he was not moving about. There in the darkness Maggie tested her power of resisting panic. Panic was the one fatal thing: so much she understood. Even if that silent door had opened, she knew she could stand there still.
She went back, took a wrap from the chair where she had tossed it down on coming in from the garden that afternoon, threw it over her head and shoulders, passed down the stairs and out through the garden once more in the darkness of the spring evening.
All was quiet in the tiny hamlet as she went along the road. A blaze of light shone from the tap-room window where the fathers of families were talking together, and within Mr. Nugent’s shuttered shop she could see through the doorway the grocer himself in his shirt-sleeves, shifting something on the counter. So great was the tension to which she had strung herself that she did not even envy the ordinariness of these people: they appeared to be in some other world, not attainable by herself. These were busied with domestic affairs, with beer or cheese or gossip. Her task was of another kind: so much she knew; and as to what that task was, she was about to learn.
As she turned the corner, the figure she expected was waiting there; and she could see in the deep twilight that he lifted his hat to her. She went straight up to him.
“Yes,” she said, “I have seen for myself. You are right so far. Now tell me what to do.”
It was no time for conventionality. She did not ask why the solicitor was there. It was enough that he had come.
“Walk this way then with me,” he said. “Now tell me what you have seen.”
“I have seen a change I cannot describe at all. It’s just someone else—not Laurie at all. I don’t understand it in the least. But I just want to know what to do. I have written to Father Mahon to come.”
He was silent for a step or two.
“I cannot tell you what to do. I must leave that to yourself. I can only tell you what not to do.”
“Miss Deronnais, you are magnificent...! There, it is said. Now then. You must not get excited or frightened whatever happens. I do not believe that you are in any danger—not of the ordinary kind, I mean. But if you want me, I shall be at the inn. I have taken rooms there for a night or so. And you must not yield to him interiorly. I wonder if you understand.”