As a last resource, impelled by her blind distrust of the change in the position of the bed, she attempted to move it. The utmost exertion of her strength did not suffice to stir the heavy piece of furniture out of its place, by so much as a hair’s breadth.
There was no alternative but to trust to the security of the locked and bolted door, and to keep watch through the night—certain that Sir Patrick and Arnold were, on their part, also keeping watch in the near neighborhood of the cottage. She took out her work and her books; and returned to her chair, placing it near the table, in the middle of the room.
The last noises which told of life and movement about her died away. The breathless stillness of the night closed round her.
CHAPTER THE FIFTY-SIXTH.
THE new day dawned; the sun rose; the household was astir again. Inside the spare room, and outside the spare room, nothing had happened.
At the hour appointed for leaving the cottage to pay the promised visit to Holchester House, Hester Dethridge and Geoffrey were alone together in the bedroom in which Anne had passed the night.
“She’s dressed, and waiting for me in the front garden,” said Geoffrey. “You wanted to see me here alone. What is it?”
Hester pointed to the bed.
“You want it moved from the wall?”
Hester nodded her head.
They moved the bed some feet away from the partition wall. After a momentary pause, Geoffrey spoke again.
“It must be done to-night,” he said. “Her friends may interfere; the girl may come back. It must be done to-night.”
Hester bowed her head slowly.
“How long do you want to be left by yourself in the house?”
She held up three of her fingers.
“Does that mean three hours?”
She nodded her head.
“Will it be done in that time?”
She made the affirmative sign once more.
Thus far, she had never lifted her eyes to his. In her manner of listening to him when he spoke, in the slightest movement that she made when necessity required it, the same lifeless submission to him, the same mute horror of him, was expressed. He had, thus far, silently resented this, on his side. On the point of leaving the room the restraint which he had laid on himself gave way. For the first time, he resented it in words.
“Why the devil can’t you look at me?” he asked
She let the question pass, without a sign to show that she had heard him. He angrily repeated it. She wrote on her slate, and held it out to him—still without raising her eyes to his face.
“You know you can speak,” he said. “You know I have found you out. What’s the use of playing the fool with me?”
She persisted in holding the slate before him. He read these words: