“He never knew she was in the pond. Whether the unexpected sight of his mother scared his senses away, he has often wondered; but he heard neither the splash in the water nor the shriek. He made off, pretty quick, he says, for fear his mother should attempt to stop him, or proclaim his presence aloud—an inconvenient procedure, since he was supposed to be in London. Luke never knew of her death until we were on the voyage. I got to London only in time to go on board the ship in the docks, and we had been out for days at sea before he learned that Rachel was dead, or I that Luke had been down, on the sly, to Deerham. I had to get over that precious sea-sickness before entering upon that, or any other talk, I can tell you. It’s a shame it should attack men!”
“I suspected Fred at the time,” said Lionel.
“You did! Well, I did not. My suspicions had turned to a very different quarter.”
“Oh, bother! where’s the good of ripping it up, now it’s over and done with?” retorted John Massingbird. “There’s the paper of baccy by your elbow, chum. Chuck it here.”
A CRISIS IN SIBYLLA’S LIFE.
Sibylla Verner improved neither in health nor in temper. Body and mind were alike diseased. As the spring had advanced, her weakness appeared to increase; the symptoms of consumption became more palpable. She would not allow that she was ill; she, no doubt, thought that there was nothing serious the matter with her; nothing, as she told everybody, but the vexing after Verner’s Pride.
Dr. West had expressed an opinion that her irritability, which she could neither conceal nor check, was the result of her state of health. He was very likely right. One thing was certain; that since she grew weaker and worse, this unhappy frame of mind had greatly increased. The whole business of her life appeared to be to grumble, to be cross, snappish, fretful. If her body was diseased, most decidedly her temper was also. The great grievance of quitting Verner’s Pride she made a plea for the indulgence of every complaint under the sun. She could no longer gather a gay crowd of visitors around her; she had lost the opportunity with Verner’s Pride; she could no longer indulge in unlimited orders for new dresses and bonnets, and other charming adjuncts to the toilette, without reference to how they were to be paid for; she had not a dozen servants at her beck and call; and if she wanted to pay a visit, there was no elegant equipage, the admiration of all beholders, to convey her. She had lost all with Verner’s Pride. Not a day—scarcely an hour—passed, but one or other, or all of these vexations, were made the subject of fretful, open repining. Not to Lady Verner—Sibylla would not have dared to annoy her; not to Decima or to Lucy; but to her husband. How weary his ear was, how weary his spirit, no tongue could tell. She tried him in