“It would be quite useless. Delamayn is far from being the first man who has dropped at foot-racing, under the cruel stress laid on the vital organs. The public have a happy knack of forgetting these accidents. They would be quite satisfied when they found the other man (who happens to have got through it) produced as a sufficient answer to me.”
Anne Silvester’s future was still dwelling on Sir Patrick’s mind. His next inquiry related to the serious subject of Geoffrey’s prospect of recovery in the time to come.
“He will never recover,” said Mr. Speedwell. “Paralysis is hanging over him. How long he may live it is impossible for me to say. Much depends on himself. In his condition, any new imprudence, any violent emotion, may kill him at a moment’s notice.”
“If no accident happens,” said Sir Patrick, “will he be sufficiently himself again to leave his bed and go out?”
“He has an appointment that I know of for Saturday next. Is it likely that he will be able to keep it?”
Sir Patrick said no more. Anne’s face was before him again at the memorable moment when he had told her that she was Geoffrey’s wife.
FOURTEENTH SCENE.—PORTLAND PLACE.
A SCOTCH MARRIAGE.
IT was Saturday, the third of October—the day on which the assertion of Arnold’s marriage to Anne Silvester was to be put to the proof.
Toward two o’clock in the afternoon Blanche and her step-mother entered the drawing-room of Lady Lundie’s town house in Portland Place.
Since the previous evening the weather had altered for the worse. The rain, which had set in from an early hour that morning, still fell. Viewed from the drawing-room windows, the desolation of Portland Place in the dead season wore its aspect of deepest gloom. The dreary opposite houses were all shut up; the black mud was inches deep in the roadway; the soot, floating in tiny black particles, mixed with the falling rain, and heightened the dirty obscurity of the rising mist. Foot-passengers and vehicles, succeeding each other at rare intervals, left great gaps of silence absolutely uninterrupted by sound. Even the grinders of organs were mute; and the wandering dogs of the street were too wet to bark. Looking back from the view out of Lady Lundie’s state windows to the view in Lady Lundie’s state room, the melancholy that reigned without was more than matched by the melancholy that reigned within. The house had been shut up for the season: it had not been considered necessary, during its mistress’s brief visit, to disturb the existing state of things. Coverings of dim brown hue shrouded the furniture. The chandeliers hung invisible in enormous bags. The silent clocks hibernated under extinguishers dropped