“And my lady, any news from her?”
“Not a word. She came down to dinner beautifully dressed, but white as the snow lying yonder. She and Sir Everard dined tete-a-tete. I take my meals with the housekeeper, now,” smiling bitterly. “My Lady Harriet doesn’t like me. The butler told me they did not speak six words during the whole time of dinner.”
“Both in the sulks,” said Mr. Parmalee. “Well, it’s natural. He’s dying to know, and she’ll be torn to pieces afore she breathes a word. She’s that sort. But this shyin’ and holding off won’t do with me. I’m getting tired of waiting, and—and so’s another party up to London. Tell her so, Sybilla, with G. W. P.’s compliments, and say that I give her just two more days, and if she doesn’t come to book before the end of that time, I’ll sell her secret to the highest bidder.”
“Yes!” Sybilla said, breathlessly; “and now for that secret, George!”
“You won’t tell?” cried Mr. Parmalee, a little alarmed at this precipitation. “Say you won’t—never—so help you!”
“Never—I swear it. Now go on!”
* * * * *
An hour later, Sybilla Silver, in her impenetrable disguise, re-entered Kingsland Court. No one had seen her go—no one saw her return. She gained her own room and took off her disguise unobserved.
Once only on her way to it she had paused—before my lady’s door—and the dark, beautiful face, wreathed with a deadly smile of hate and exultation, was horribly transformed to the face of a malignant, merciless demon.
A STORM BREWING.
Sir Everard Kingsland was blazing in the very hottest of the flame when he tore himself forcibly away from the artist and buried himself in his study. The unutterable degradation of it all, the horrible humiliation that this man and his wife—his—were bound together by some mysterious secret, nearly drove him mad.
“Where there is mystery there must be guilt!” he fiercely thought. “Nothing under heaven can make it right for a wife to have a secret from her husband. And she knew it, and concealed it before she married me, and means to deceive me until the end. In a week her name and that of this low-bred ruffian will be bandied together throughout the country.”
And then, like a man mad indeed, he tore up and down the apartment, his hands clinched, his face ghastly, his eyes bloodshot. And then all doubts and fears were swept away, and love rushed back in an impetuous torrent, and he knew that to lose her were ten thousand times worse than death.
“My beautiful! my own! my darling! May Heaven pity us both! for be your secret what it may, I can not lose you—I can not! Life without you were tenfold worse than the bitterest death! My own poor girl! I know she suffers, too, for this miserable secret, this sin of others—for such it must be. She looked up in my face with truthful, innocent eyes, and told me she never saw this man until she met him that day in the library, and I know she spoke the truth! My love, my wife! You asked me to trust you, and I thrust you aside! I spoke and acted like a brute! I will trust you! I will wait! I will never doubt you again, my own beloved bride!”