He waited a little, reflecting, with evident pain and anxiety, on what he had read—then opened his own letters, and hurriedly looked at the signatures. There was nothing for him from his friend, the sheriff, at Edinburgh, and no communication from the railway, in the shape of a telegram. He had decided, overnight, on waiting till the end of the week before he interfered in the matter of Blanche’s marriage. The events of the morning determined him on not waiting another day. Duncan returned to the breakfast-room to pour out his master’s coffee. Sir Patrick sent him away again with a second message,
“Do you know where Lady Lundie is, Duncan?”
“Yes, Sir Patrick.”
“My compliments to her ladyship. If she is not otherwise engaged, I shall be glad to speak to her privately in an hour’s time.”
SIR PATRICK made a bad breakfast. Blanche’s
absence fretted him, and
Anne Silvester’s letter puzzled him.
He read it, short as it was, a second time, and a third. If it meant any thing, it meant that the motive at the bottom of Anne’s flight was to accomplish the sacrifice of herself to the happiness of Blanche. She had parted for life from his niece for his niece’s sake! What did this mean? And how was it to be reconciled with Anne’s position—as described to him by Mrs. Inchbare during his visit to Craig Fernie?
All Sir Patrick’s ingenuity, and all Sir Patrick’s experience, failed to find so much as the shadow of an answer to that question.
While he was still pondering over the letter, Arnold and the surgeon entered the breakfast-room together.
“Have you heard about Blanche?” asked Arnold, excitedly. “She is in no danger, Sir Patrick—the worst of it is over now.”
The surgeon interposed before Sir Patrick could appeal to him.
“Mr. Brinkworth’s interest in the young lady a little exaggerates the state of the case,” he said. “I have seen her, at Lady Lundie’s request; and I can assure you that there is not the slightest reason for any present alarm. Miss Lundie has had a nervous attack, which has yielded to the simplest domestic remedies. The only anxiety you need feel is connected with the management of her in the future. She is suffering from some mental distress, which it is not for me, but for her friends, to alleviate and remove. If you can turn her thoughts from the painful subject—whatever it may be—on which they are dwelling now, you will do all that needs to be done.” He took up a newspaper from the table, and strolled out into the garden, leaving Sir Patrick and Arnold together.
“You heard that?” said Sir Patrick.
“Is he right, do you think?” asked Arnold.