Lionel laid his hand on the man’s shoulder, and drew him with him. “I am going your way, Robin; let us walk together.”
Robin made no resistance; he went along with his head down.
“I heard a word said to-night, sir, as Miss Sibylla had come back,” he resumed, more calmly; “Mrs. Massingbird, that is. Somebody said they saw her at the station. Have you seen her, sir?”
“Yes; I have,” replied Lionel.
“Does she say anything about John Massingbird?” continued the man, with feverish eagerness. “Is he dead? or is he alive?”
“He is dead, Robin. There has never been a doubt upon the point since the news first came. He died by violence.”
“Then he got his deserts,” returned Robin, lifting his hand in the air, as he had done once before when speaking upon the same subject. “And Luke Roy, sir? Is he coming? I’m a-waiting for him.”
“Of Luke, Mrs. Massingbird knows nothing. For myself, I think he is sure to come home, sooner or later.”
“Heaven send him!” aspirated Robin.
Lionel saw the man turn to his home, and very soon afterwards he was at his mother’s. Lady Verner had retired for the night. Decima and Lucy were about retiring. They had risen from their seats, and Decima—who was too cautious to trust it to servants—was taking the fire off the grate. They looked inexpressibly surprised at the entrance of Lionel.
“I have come an a visit, Decima,” began he, speaking in a gay tone. “Can you take me in?”
She did not understand him, and Lionel saw by the questioning expression of her face that Lady Verner had not made public the contents of his note to her; he saw that they were ignorant of the return of Sibylla. The fact that they were so seemed to rush over his spirit as a refreshing dew. Why it should do so, he did not seek to analyse; and he was all too self-conscious that he dared not.
“A friend has come unexpectedly on a visit, and taken possession of Verner’s Pride,” he pursued. “I have lent it for a time.”
“Lent it all?” exclaimed the wondering Decima.
“Lent it all. You will make room for me, won’t you?”
“To be sure,” said Decima, puzzled more than she could express. “But was there no room left for you?”
“No,” answered Lionel.
“What very unconscionable people they must be, to invade you in such numbers as that! You can have your old chamber, Lionel. But I will just go and speak to Catherine.”
She hastened from the room. Lionel stood before the fire, positively turning his back upon Lucy Tempest. Was his conscience already smiting him? Lucy, who had stood by the table, her bed candle in her hand, stepped forward and held out the other hand to Lionel.
“May I wish you good-night?” she said.
“Good-night,” he answered, shaking her hand. “How is your cold?”
“Oh! it is so much better!” she replied, with animation. “All the threatened soreness of the chest is gone. I shall be well by to-morrow. Lady Verner said I ought to have gone to bed early, but I felt too well. I knew Jan’s advice would be good.”