“I do feel it—deeply.”
“I sometimes think,” said Lady Newhaven, her face aging suddenly under an emotion so disfiguring that Rachel’s eyes fell before it—“I am sometimes almost certain that Edward drew the short lighter. Oh! do you think if he did he will really act up to it when the time comes?”
“If he drew it he will certainly take the consequences.”
“Will he, do you think? I am almost sure he drew it. He is doing so many little things that look as if he knew he were not going to live. I heard Mr. Carstairs ask him to go to Norway with him next spring, and Edward laughed, and said he never looked more than a few months ahead.”
“I am afraid he may have said that intending you to hear it.”
“But he did not intend me to hear it. I overheard it.” Rachel’s face fell.
“You did promise after you told me about the letter that you would never do that kind of thing again.”
“Well, Rachel, I have not. I have not even looked at his letters since. I could not help it that once, because I thought he might have told his brother in India. But don’t you think his saying that to Mr. Carstairs looks—”
Rachel shook her head.
“He is beyond me,” she said. “There may be something more behind which we don’t know about.”
“I have a feeling, it has come over me again and again lately, that I shall be released, and that Hugh and I shall be happy together yet.”
And Lady Newhaven turned her face against the high back of her carved oak chair and sobbed hysterically.
“Could you be happy if you had brought about Lord Newhaven’s death?” said Rachel.
Her voice was full of tender pity, not for the crouching unhappiness before her, but for the poor atrophied soul. Could she reach it? She would have given everything she possessed at that moment for one second of Christ’s power to touch those blind eyes to sight.
“How can you say such things? I should not have brought it about. I did not even know of that dreadful drawing of lots till the thing was done. That was all his own doing.”
Rachel sighed. The passionate yearning towards her companion shrank back upon herself.
“The fault is in me,” she said to herself. “If I were purer, humbler, more loving, I might have been allowed to help her.”
Lady Newhaven rose, and held Rachel tightly in her arms.
“I count the days,” she said, hoarsely, shaking from head to foot. “It is two months and three weeks to-day. November the twenty-ninth. You will promise faithfully to come to me and be with me then? You will not desert me? Whatever happens you will be sure—to come?”
“I will come. I promise,” said Rachel. And she stooped and kissed the closed eyes. She could at least do that.
Brother, thy tail hangs down behind.
—Song of the Bandar-log.