“Are you my son’s wife?” asked the lady.
“I am your son’s prisoner,” Anne answered.
Lady Holchester’s pale face turned paler still. It was plain that Anne’s reply had confirmed some doubt in the mother s mind which had been already suggested to it by the son.
“What do you mean?” she asked, in a whisper.
Geoffrey’s heavy footsteps crossed the dining-room. There was no time to explain. Anne whispered back,
“Tell my friends what I have told you.”
Geoffrey appeared at the dining-room door.
“Name one of your friends,” said Lady Holchester.
“Sir Patrick Lundie.”
Geoffrey heard the answer. “What about Sir Patrick Lundie?” he asked.
“I wish to see Sir Patrick Lundie,” said his mother. “And your wife can tell me where to find him.”
Anne instantly understood that Lady Holchester would communicate with Sir Patrick. She mentioned his London address. Lady Holchester turned to leave the cottage. Her son stopped her.
“Let’s set things straight,” he said, “before you go. My mother,” he went on, addressing himself to Anne, “don’t think there’s much chance for us two of living comfortably together. Bear witness to the truth—will you? What did I tell you at breakfast-time? Didn’t I say it should be my endeavor to make you a good husband? Didn’t I say—in Mrs. Dethridge’s presence—I wanted to make it up?” He waited until Anne had answered in the affirmative, and then appealed to his mother. “Well? what do you think now?”
Lady Holchester declined to reveal what she thought. “You shall see me, or hear from me, this evening,” she said to Anne. Geoffrey attempted to repeat his unanswered question. His mother looked at him. His eyes instantly dropped before hers. She gravely bent her head to Anne, and drew her veil. Her son followed her out in silence to the gate.
Anne returned to her room, sustained by the first sense of relief which she had felt since the morning. “His mother is alarmed,” she said to herself. “A change will come.”
A change was to come—with the coming night.
CHAPTER THE FIFTY-FIRST.
TOWARD sunset, Lady Holchester’s carriage drew up before the gate of the cottage.
Three persons occupied the carriage: Lady Holchester, her eldest son (now Lord Holchester), and Sir Patrick Lundie.
“Will you wait in the carriage, Sir Patrick?” said Julius. “Or will you come in?”
“I will wait. If I can be of the least use to her,, send for me instantly. In the mean time don’t forget to make the stipulation which I have suggested. It is the one certain way of putting your brother’s real feeling in this matter to the test.”
The servant had rung the bell without producing any result. He rang again. Lady Holchester put a question to Sir Patrick.