Good Mary Quince was in the room—there was some comfort in that; but I felt quite worn out, and had rather she did not speak to me; and indeed for the time I felt absolutely indifferent as to whether I lived or died.
Cousin Monica this morning, at pleasant Elverston, all-unconscious of my sad plight, proposed to Lady Mary Carysbroke and Lord Ilbury, her guests, to drive over to church at Feltram, and then pay us a visit at Bartram-Haugh, to which they readily agreed.
Accordingly, at about two o’clock, this pleasant party of three arrived at Bartram. They walked, having left the carriage to follow when the horses were fed; and Madame de la Rougierre, who was in my uncle’s room when little Giblets arrived to say that the party were in the parlour, whispered for a little with my uncle, who then said—
’Miss Maud Ruthyn has gone out to drive, but I shall be happy to see Lady Knollys here, if she will do me the favour to come upstairs and see me for a few moments; and you can mention that I am very far from well.’
Madame followed him out upon the lobby, and added, holding him by the collar, and whispering earnestly in his ear—
‘Bring hair ladysheep up by the backstairs—mind, the backstairs.’
And the next moment Madame entered my room, with long tiptoe steps, and looking, Mary Quince said, as if she were going to be hanged.
On entering she looked sharply round, and being satisfied of Mary Quince’s presence, she turned the key in the door, and made some affectionate enquiries about me in a whisper; and then she stole to the window and peeped out, standing back some way; after which she came to my bedside, murmured some tender sentences, drew the curtain a little, and making some little fidgety adjustments about the room; among the rest she took the key from the lock, quietly, and put it into her pocket.
This was so odd a procedure that honest Mary Quince rose stoutly from her chair, pointing to the lock, with her frank little blue eyes fixed on Madame, and she whispered—’Won’t you put the key in the lock, please?’
’Oh, certainly, Mary Queence; but it is better it shall be locked, for I think her uncle he is coming to see her, and I am sure she would be very much frightened, for he is very much displease, don’t you see? and we can tell him she is not well enough, or asleep, and so he weel go away again, without any trouble.’
I heard nothing of this, which was conducted in close whispers; and Mary, although she did not give Madame credit for caring whether I was frightened or not, and suspected her motives in everything, acquiesced grudgingly, fearing lest her alleged reason might possibly be the true one.
So Madame hovered about the door, uneasily; and of what went on elsewhere during that period Lady Knollys afterwards gave me the following account:—
’We were very much disappointed; but of course I was glad to see Silas, and your little hobgoblin butler led me upstairs to his room a different way, I think, from that I came before; but I don’t know the house of Bartram well enough to speak positively. I only know that I was conducted quite across his bedroom, which I had not seen on my former visit, and so into his sitting-room, where I found him.