It was now the eve of the fifth of October. An unnatural heat prevailed, consequent on the long drought, the horizon was skirted with a smoky haze and the atmosphere was exceedingly oppressive. Mrs. Dubois, who was suffering from a severe headache, sat in the parlor, half buried in the cushions of an easy-chair. Adele stood beside her, bathing her head with perfumed water, while Mr. Somers, prostrated by the weather, lay, apparently asleep, upon a sofa.
“That will do, Adele”, said Mrs. Dubois, making a slight motion towards her daughter. “That will do, ma chere, my head is cooler now. Go out and watch for your father. He will surely be here to-night”.
Adele stepped softly out, through the window upon the balcony.
A few minutes after, Mr. Lansdowne came to the parlor door, looked in, inquired for Mrs. Dubois’s headache, gazed for a moment, at the serene face of the sleeper on the sofa, and then, perceiving Adele sitting outside, impelled by an irresistible impulse, went out and joined her.
She was leaning her head upon her hand, with her arm supported by a low, rude balustrade, that ran round the edge of the balcony, and was looking earnestly up the road, to catch the first glimpse of her father. Her countenance had a subdued, sad expression. She was indeed very unhappy. The distance and reserve that had grown up so suddenly between herself and Mr. Lansdowne had become painful to her. She would have rejoiced to return once more to their former habits of frank and vivacious conversation. But she waited for him to renew the familiarity of the past.
She turned her head towards him as he approached, and without raising her eyes, said, “Good evening, Mr. Lansdowne”. He bowed, sat down, and they remained several minutes in silence.
“I suppose”, said John, at length, making a desperate effort to preserve a composure of manner, entirely at variance with the tumultuous throbbings of his heart, “you are confident of your father’s return to-night?”
“O, yes. I look for him every moment. I am quite anxious to hear the result of the expedition”.
“I am, also. I hope no harm will come to our good friend, Mr. Norton. Do you know whether he intends to spend the winter here, Miss Adele?”
“I think he will return to his family. But we shall endeavor to retain him, until we go ourselves”.
“You go, Miss Adele”, exclaimed John, unable to conceal his eager interest, “do you leave here?”
“We go to France next month”.
“To France!” repeated the young man.
“My father and mother are going to visit their early home. I shall accompany them”. John, aroused by information containing so much of importance in regard to Adele’s future, could not restrain himself from prolonging the conversation. Adele was willing to answer his inquiries, and in a few minutes they were talking almost as freely and frankly as in the days before Mr. Lansdowne’s unfortunately rash avowal of his passion.