The little hint, dropped by Dr. West, touching the past, had not been without its fruits in Sibylla’s mind. It lay and smouldered there. Had Lionel been attached to Lucy?—had there been love-scenes, love-making between them? Sibylla asked herself the questions ten times in a day. Now and then she let drop a sharp, acrid bit of venom to him—his “old love, Lucy.” Lionel would receive it with impassibility, never answering.
On the day spoken of in the last chapter, when Matthew Frost was dying, she was more ill at ease, more intensely irritable, than usual. Lady Verner had gone with some friends to Heartburg, and was not expected home until night; Decima and Lucy walked out in the afternoon, and Sibylla was alone. Lionel had not been home since he went out in the morning to see Matthew Frost. The fact was Lionel had had a busy day of it: what with old Matthew and what with his conversation with John Massingbird afterwards, certain work which ought to have been done in the morning he had left till the afternoon. It was nothing unusual for him to be out all day; but Sibylla was choosing to make his being out on this day an unusual grievance. As the hours of the afternoon passed on and on, and it grew late, and nobody appeared, she could scarcely suppress her temper, her restlessness. She was a bad one to be alone; had never liked to be alone for five minutes in her life; and thence perhaps the secret of her having made so much of a companion of her maid, Benoite. In point of fact, Sibylla Verner had no resources within herself; and she made up for the want by indulging in her naturally bad temper.
Where were they? Where was Decima? Where was Lucy? Above all, where was Lionel? Sibylla, not being able to answer the questions, suddenly began to get up a pretty little plot of imagination—that Lucy and Lionel were somewhere together. Had Sibylla possessed one of Sam Weller’s patent self-acting microscopes, able to afford a view through space and stairs and deal doors, she might have seen Lionel seated alone in the study at Verner’s