“She shall tell me all—she shall, by Heaven!” he cried.
He entered her dressing-room—she was, not there; her boudoir—she was not there; her bedroom—it too was empty. He seized the bell and nearly tore it down. Claudine, the maid, looked in with a startled face.
“Where is your mistress?”
The girl gazed round with a bewildered air.
“Is my lady not here, sir? She sent me away over an hour ago. She was lying down in her dressing-room; she said she was ill.”
He looked at her for a moment—it was evident she was telling the simple truth.
“Send Miss Silver here.”
“I am not sure that Miss Silver is in the house, Sir Everard. I saw her go out with Edwards some time ago but I will go and see.”
Claudine departed. Five minutes passed—ten; he stood rigid as stone. Then came steps—hurried, agitated—the footsteps of a man and a woman.
He strode out and confronted them—Edwards, his valet, and Sybilla Silver. Both were dressed as from a recent walk; both wore strangely pale and agitated faces.
Edwards barely repressed a cry at sight of his master.
“What is it?” Sir Everard asked.
The valet looked at Sybilla in blank terror. Miss Silver covered her face with both hands and turned away.
“What is it?” the baronet repeated, in a dull, thick voice. “Where is my wife?”
“Sir Everard, I—I don’t know how—she—she is not in the house.”
“Where is she?”
“She is—in the grounds.”
“In the Beech Walk.”
“With Mr. Parmalee.”
There was dead pause. Sybilla clasped her hands and looked imploringly up in his face.
“Don’t be angry with us, Sir Everard; we could not help seeing them. I lost a locket, and Edwards came to help me look for it. It was by the merest chance we came upon them in the Beech Walk.”
“I am not angry. Did they see you?”
“No, Sir Everard.”
“Did you hear what they said?”
“No, Sir Everard; we would not have listened. They were talking; my lady seemed dreadfully agitated, appealing to him as it appeared, while he was cool and indifferent. Just before we came away we saw her give him all the money in her purse. Ah, here she is now! For pity’s sake, do not betray us, Sir Everard!”
She flitted away like a swift, noiseless ghost, closely followed by the valet. And an instant later Lady Kingsland wild and pale, and shrouded in a long mantle turned to enter her dressing-room, and found herself face to face with her wronged husband.
THE BREAKING OF THE STORM.
She looked at him and recoiled with a cry of dismay. He stood before her so ghastly, so awful, that with a blind, unthinking motion of intense terror she put out both hands as if to keep him off.