Blanche’s voice reached them, calling for Anne.
Anne caught Arnold by the hand and wrung it hard. “Go!” she whispered. The next instant she was at the mantle-piece, and had blown out both the candles.
Another flash of lightning came through the darkness, and showed Blanche’s figure standing at the door.
MRS. INCHBARE was the first person who acted in the emergency. She called for lights; and sternly rebuked the house-maid, who brought them, for not having closed the house door. “Ye feckless ne’er-do-weel!” cried the landlady; “the wind’s blawn the candles oot.”
The woman declared (with perfect truth) that the door had been closed. An awkward dispute might have ensued if Blanche had not diverted Mrs. Inchbare’s attention to herself. The appearance of the lights disclosed her, wet through with her arms round Anne’s neck. Mrs. Inchbare digressed at once to the pressing question of changing the young lady’s clothes, and gave Anne the opportunity of looking round her, unobserved. Arnold had made his escape before the candles had been brought in.
In the mean time Blanche’s attention was absorbed in her own dripping skirts.
“Good gracious! I’m absolutely distilling rain from every part of me. And I’m making you, Anne, as wet as I am! Lend me some dry things. You can’t? Mrs. Inchbare, what does your experience suggest? Which had I better do? Go to bed while my clothes are being dried? or borrow from your wardrobe—though you are a head and shoulders taller than I am?”
Mrs. Inchbare instantly bustled out to fetch the choicest garments that her wardrobe could produce. The moment the door had closed on her Blanche looked round the room in her turn.
The rights of affection having been already asserted, the claims of curiosity naturally pressed for satisfaction next.
“Somebody passed me in the dark,” she whispered. “Was it your husband? I’m dying to be introduced to him. And, oh my dear! what is your married name?”
Anne answered, coldly, “Wait a little. I can’t speak about it yet.”
“Are you ill?” asked Blanche.
“I am a little nervous.”
“Has any thing unpleasant happened between you and my uncle? You have seen him, haven’t you?”
“Did he give you my message?”
“He gave me your message.—Blanche! you promised him to stay at Windygates. Why, in the name of heaven, did you come here to-night?”
“If you were half as fond of me as I am of you,” returned Blanche, “you wouldn’t ask that. I tried hard to keep my promise, but I couldn’t do it. It was all very well, while my uncle was laying down the law—with Lady Lundie in a rage, and the dogs barking, and the doors banging, and all that. The excitement kept me up. But when my uncle had gone, and the dreadful gray,