“Thank the Lord!” said Mrs. Susan Sharpe. “I thought he wouldn’t fail.”
She dropped the curtain, set the light on the table, knelt down and said her prayers, rose up and undressed herself; and then this extraordinary female went to bed and to sleep.
HUGH INGELOW KEEPS HIS PROMISE.
Mrs. Susan Sharpe was up with the lark, or, rather, with the sea-gulls whirling and shrieking out on the tossing waters. The early morning sun streamed in the little chamber; the wind wailed plaintively still, and the dull tramp, tramp of the multitudinous waves kept up their ceaseless refrain.
All was yet still in the lone farmhouse—no living thing was stirring, not even the rats, that had held high carnival all night. Down in the back yard and front garden, Tiger and Nero prowled about their beat, surlily growling at the tossing trees, and were monarchs of all they surveyed.
Mrs. Sharpe was not an imaginative person, luckily. She got up and made her toilet, and splashed herself briskly in a basin of cold water. The effect of these ablutions was singular—they effected a total cure of her inflamed eyelids.
More singular still, a wig of red hair stood on the dressing-table, and Mrs. Sharpe’s cranium was adorned with a respectable growth of dark, glossy, brown hair.
“If they only saw me now,” said Mrs. Sharpe to herself, with a chuckle, “I rather think they’d open their old eyes!”
She went to work artistically—reddened her eyelids over again, carefully adjusted her wig, set her cap on it, fixed her spectacles on her nose, and surveyed herself complacently in the cracked chimney-glass.
“You’ll do,” said Mrs. Sharpe, nodding familiarly to her image: “You’re as ugly as if somebody had bespoke you. I only wonder how that little unfortunate can take to such a looking object—and she does take to me, poor dear! And now I’ll write to him. He’s sure to be along in the course of the morning.”
Taking from her capacious pocket a blank-book and a lead-pencil, Mrs. Susan Sharpe sat down and wrote.
And this is what Mrs. Sharpe wrote:
“She’s here, and safe and well, and don’t know me no more than the dead. But I can’t get her out. Two old women and one old man are on the watch all day long. I daren’t sneeze but they know it. And before they go off the watch there’s two big, savage dogs goes on, and prowl about all night. I don’t know what to do; tell me. She’s awful down-hearted, and cries and goes on. I heard your whistle last night. Her room is next to mine—the windows to the left. If you walk on the beach she’ll see you; she sits at the window all day. Doctor O. is going to Cuba in a week, and going to take her with him; so you had better be quick.”
Mrs. Sharpe read her own composition over two or three times, with a satisfied look.