‘I was waiting until you were safe in your own room,’ was the reply. ‘What has kept you so long?’
‘I must go back again,’ I returned quickly; ’she is not fit to be left alone. I am not afraid of her now, Mr. Hamilton: she can do me no harm. Please do not watch any longer.’
’You were ill: have you forgotten that? I ought not to allow you to make yourself worse. Why,’ with a sort of impatience visible in his manner, ‘need you be troubled about our miserable affairs?’
‘Let me go back for a little while,’ I pleaded; for I knew if he ordered me into my own room I should be obliged to obey him. ’It keeps her in check, seeing me there: she is so exhausted that she must sleep soon; and then I will lie down.’ I suppose he thought there was no help for it, for he drew back for me to pass; but I was grieved to hear his footsteps for a long time after that pacing slowly up and down, and it was more for his sake than my own that I was glad when Miss Darrell’s moans ceased, and the more quiet regular breathing proved to me that she was asleep.
The passage was empty when I came out, and the first faint streak of dawn was visible. It was too late then to think of going to bed. I lay down, dressed as I was, and slept for a couple of hours; then the sunshine woke me, and I got up and took my bath and felt refreshed.
Chatty brought me my tea early, and told me that Mr. Hamilton was walking in the garden. ‘And do you know, ma’am,’ observed the girl breathlessly, ’something strange must have happened since last evening; for when I looked out of my window before six this morning I saw master standing before the door, and there was Leah, in her bonnet, speaking to him, and she went off with Pierson, wheeling off her boxes on his truck. I do believe she has really gone, ma’am, and not a creature in the house knows it.’
’Never mind: it is not our business, Chatty; but I think I will go and speak to your master when I have finished my tea.’
’I was to give you a message, ma’am,—that he would be glad if you could join him in the garden as soon as you were up, as he had to go some distance, and he wanted to tell you about it.’ I put down my cup at once when I heard this, and hurried out into the garden.
Mr. Hamilton was pacing up and down the asphalt walk as he had paced the passage last night. He did not quicken his steps when he saw me, but walked towards me slowly, with the gait of a man who has a load on his mind.
‘I hardly expected you so early. Have you had any rest at all?’ looking at me rather anxiously.
’Yes, thank you; I have slept for two hours. But you have not, Mr. Hamilton’; for he was looking wretchedly worn and ill.
‘Was it likely that I could sleep?’ he returned impatiently. ’But I have no time to waste. Atkinson will be round here directly with the dog-cart. I am going off to Liverpool by the 12.10 train.’