‘I don’t see why Max need have waited an hour,’ was my reply; but there was no time for Gladys to answer me, for we were turning in at the gate, and there were Mr. Hamilton and Miss Darrell walking up and down the lawn watching for us.
Mr. Hamilton came towards us at once, and gave his hand to Gladys.
‘I need not ask how you have enjoyed your drive,’ he said, looking at her bright face with evident satisfaction.
‘Oh, it has been lovely!’ she returned, with such unwonted animation that Miss Darrell stared at her. ’How do you do, Etta? It is long since we have met.—Giles, if you will give me your arm, I think I will go upstairs at once, for I am certainly a little tired.—Come, Ursula.’
‘We met Mr. Cunliffe in the Pemberley Road, and drove him back,’ I observed carelessly, when Miss Darrell was out of hearing. I thought it better to allude to Max in case Atkinson mentioned it to one of the servants.
‘You should have brought him in to dinner,’ was Mr. Hamilton’s only comment. ’By the bye, Miss Garston, when do you intend to honour us with your company downstairs? Your patient is convalescent now.’
‘I have just awoke to that fact,’ was my reply, ’and I have told Mrs. Barton that she will soon see me back at the White Cottage. Miss Watson leaves next Tuesday: I think Gladys could spare me by then.’
Gladys shook her head. ’I shall never willingly spare you, Ursula; but of course I shall have no right to trespass on your time.’
‘No, of course not,’ returned her brother sharply; ’Miss Garston has been too good to us already: we cannot expect her to sacrifice herself any longer. We will say Tuesday, then. You will come downstairs on Sunday, Gladys?’
‘Yes,’ with a faint sigh.
‘We need not talk about my going yet, when Gladys is tired,’ I returned, feeling inclined to scold Mr. Hamilton for his want of tact. Tuesday, and it was Wednesday now,—not quite a week more; but, looking up, I saw Mr. Hamilton regarding me so strangely, and yet so sorrowfully, that my brief irritability vanished. He was sorry that I was going; he seemed about to speak; his lips unclosed, then a sudden frown of recollection crossed his brow, and with a curt good-night he left us.
‘What is the matter with Giles?’ asked Gladys, rather wearily: I could see she was very tired by this time. ’Have you and he quarrelled, Ursula?’
‘Not to my knowledge,’ I replied quietly, turning away, that she should not see my burning cheeks. ’There is Chatty bringing the tea: are you not glad, dear?’ And I busied myself in clearing the table.
Gladys went to bed very early that night: her long drive had disposed her for sleep. The summer twilight was only creeping over the western sky when I closed her door and went out into the passage: the evening was only half over, and a fit of restlessness induced me to seek the garden.