’I have no confidence in you, little Maud; you are little rogue—petite traitresse! Reflect, if you can, how you ’av always treat Madame. You ’av attempt to ruin me—you conspire with the bad domestics at Knowl to destroy me—and you expect me here to take a your part! You would never listen to me—you ’ad no mercy for me—you join to hunt me away from your house like wolf. Well, what you expect to find me now? Bah!’
This terrific ‘Bah!’ with a long nasal yell of scorn, rang in my ears like a clap of thunder.
’I say you are mad, petite insolente, to suppose I should care for you more than the poor hare it will care for the hound—more than the bird who has escape will love the oiseleur. I do not care—I ought not care. It is your turn to suffer. Lie down on your bed there, and suffer quaitely.’
I did not lie down; but I despaired. I walked round and round the room, wringing my hands in utter distraction. I threw myself at the bedside on my knees. I could not pray; I could only shiver and moan, with hands clasped, and eyes of horror turned up to heaven. I think Madame was, in her malignant way, perplexed. That some evil was intended me I am sure she was persuaded; but I dare say Meg Hawkes had said rightly in telling me that she was not fully in their secrets.
The first paroxysm of despair subsided into another state. All at once my mind was filled with the idea of Meg Hawkes, her enterprise, and my chances of escape. There is one point at which the road to Elverston makes a short ascent: there is a sudden curve there, two great ash-trees, with a roadside stile between, at the right side, covered with ivy. Driving back and forward, I did not recollect having particularly remarked this point in the highway; but now it was before me, in the thin light of the thinnest segment of moon, and the figure of Meg Hawkes, her back toward me, always ascending towards Elverston. It was constantly the same picture—the same motion without progress—the same dreadful suspense and impatience.
I was now sitting on the side of the bed, looking wistfully across the room. When I did not see Meg Hawkes, I beheld Madame darkly eyeing first one then another point of the chamber, evidently puzzling over some problem, and in one of her most savage moods—sometimes muttering to herself, sometimes protruding, and sometimes screwing up her great mouth.
She went into her own room, where she remained, I think, nearly ten minutes, and on her return there was that in the flash of her eyes, the glow of her face, and the peculiar fragrance that surrounded her, that showed she had been partaking of her favourite restorative.
I had not moved since she left my room.
She paused about the middle of the floor, and looked at me with what I can only describe as her wild-beast stare.