“I can do it all,” answered Lucy. “I can——”
“What next, my dear? You pack! Though Catherine’s hand is painful, she can do something.”
“Oh, yes, we shall manage very well,” cheerfully answered Lucy. “Did you say we should have to go out, Lady Verner?”
“This afternoon. For one place, we must go to the Bitterworths. You cannot go away without seeing them, and Mrs. Bitterworth is too ill just now to call upon you. I wonder whether Lionel will be here to-day?”
It was a “wonder” which had been crossing Lucy’s own heart. She went to her room after breakfast, and soon became deep in her preparations with old Catherine; Lucy doing the chief part of the work, in spite of Catherine’s remonstrances. But her thoughts were not with her hands; they remained buried in that speculation of Lady Verner’s—would Lionel be there that day?
The time went on to the afternoon, and he had not come. They stepped into the carriage (for Lady Verner could indulge in the luxury of horses again now) to make their calls, and he had not come. Lucy’s heart palpitated strangely at the doubt of whether she should really depart without seeing him. A very improbable doubt, considering the contemplated arrival at Deerham Court of Sir Henry Tempest.
As they passed Dr. West’s old house, Lady Verner ordered the carriage to turn the corner and stop at the door. “Mr. Jan Verner” was on the plate now, where “West and Verner” used to be. Master Cheese unwillingly disturbed himself to come out, for he was seated over a washhand-basin of gooseberry fool, which he had got surreptitiously made for him in the kitchen. Mr. Jan was out, he said.
So Lady Verner ordered the carriage on, leaving a message for Jan that she wanted some more “drops” made up.
They paid the visit to Mrs. Bitterworth. Mr. Bitterworth was not at home. He had gone to see Mr. Verner. A sudden beating of the heart, a rising flush in the cheeks, a mist for a moment before her eyes, and Lucy was being whirled to Verner’s Pride. Lady Verner had ordered the carriage thither, as they left Mrs. Bitterworth’s.
They found them both in the drawing-room. Mr. Bitterworth had just risen to leave, and was shaking hands with Lionel. Lady Verner interrupted them with the news of Lucy’s departure; of her own.
“Sir Henry will be here to-morrow,” she said to Lionel. “He takes Lucy to London with him the following day, and I accompany them.”
Lionel, startled, looked round at Lucy. She was not looking at him. Her eyes were averted—her face was flushed.
“But you are not going for good, Miss Lucy!” cried Mr. Bitterworth.
“She is,” replied Lady Verner. “And glad enough, I am sure, she must be, to get away from stupid Deerham. She little thought, when she came to it, that her sojourn in it would be so long as this. I have seen the rebellion, at her having to stop in it, rising often.”