“The carriage waits, my lady,” a servant said, entering. “Lady Helen bade me remind you, my lady, it is time to start for church.”
Lady Kingsland hastily glanced at her watch.
“Why, so it is! I had nearly forgotten. Come, Sir Jasper, and forget your fears on this happy day.”
She led him from the room. Baby, in its christening-robes, slept in nurse’s arms, and Lady Helen and Mr. Carlyon stood impatiently waiting.
“We will certainly be late!” Lady Helen, who was god-mamma, said, fussily. “Had we not better depart at once, Sir Jasper?”
“I am quite at your ladyship’s service. We will not delay an instant longer. Proceed, nurse.”
Nurse, with her precious burden, went before. Sir Jasper drew Lady Helen’s arm within his own, and Mr. Carlyon followed with little Mildred Kingsland.
Lady Kingsland watched the carriage out of sight, and then went slowly and thoughtfully back to her room.
“How extremely foolish and weak of Sir Jasper,” she was thinking, “to pay the slightest attention to the canting nonsense of these fortune-telling impostors! If I had been in his place I would have had him horsewhipped from my gates for his pains. I must find out what this terrible prediction was and laugh it out of my husband’s mind.”
Meantime the carriage rolled down the long avenue, under the majestic copper-beeches, through the lofty gates, and along the bright sunlit road leading to the village.
In stole and surplice, within the village church, the Reverend Cyrus Green, Rector of Stonehaven, stood by the baptismal font, waiting to baptize the heir of all the Kingslands.
Stately, Sir Jasper Kingsland strode up the aisle, with Lady Helen upon his arm. No trace of the trouble within showed in his pale face as he heard his son baptized Everard Jasper Carew Kingsland.
The ceremony was over. Nurse took the infant baronet again; Lady Helen adjusted her mantle, and the Reverend Cyrus Green was blandly offering his congratulations to the greatest man in the parish, when a sudden commotion at the door startled all. Some one striving to enter, and some other one refusing admission.
“Let me in, I tell you!” cried a shrill, piercing voice—the voice of an angry woman. “Stand aside, woman! I will see Sir Jasper Kingsland.”
With the last ringing words the intruder burst past the pew-opener, and rushed wildly into the church. A weird and unearthly figure—like one of Macbeth’s witches—with streaming black hair floating over a long, red cloak, and two black eyes of flame. All recoiled as the spectral figure rushed up like a mad thing and confronted Sir Jasper Kingsland.
“At last!” she shrilly cried, in a voice that pierced even to the gaping listeners without—“at last, Sir Jasper Kingsland! At last we meet again!”
There was a horrible cry as the baronet started back, putting up both hands, with a look of unutterable horror.