“Please, sir, could you tell us the time?”
The spell was broken, and Mr. Carr took out his watch as he turned his eyes on a ragged urchin who had called to him from below.
The tide was down; and sundry Arabs were regaling their naked feet in the mud, sporting and shouting. The evening drew in earlier than they did, and the sun had already set.
Quitting the garden, Mr. Carr stepped into a hansom, and was conveyed to Grafton Street. He found Lord Hartledon knitting his brow over a letter.
“Maude is growing vexed in earnest,” he began, looking up at Mr. Carr. “She insists upon knowing the reason that I do not go home to her.”
“I don’t wonder at it. You ought to do one of two things: go, or—”
“Or what, Carr?”
“You know. Never go home again.”
“I wish I was out of the world!” cried the unhappy man.
“I wonder what you think of yourself, Galloping about Rotten Row with women when your wife’s dying. Of course it’s not your fault that reports of your goings-on reach her here oh dear no. You are a moddel husband you are, sending her down here out of the way that you may take your pleasure. Why did you marry her, nobody wanted you to she sits and mopes and weeps and she’s going into the same way that her father went, you’ll be glad no doubt to hear it it’s what you’re aiming at, once she is in Calne churchyard the field will be open for your Anne Ashton. I can tell you that if you’ve a spark of proper feeling you’ll come down for its killing her,
“Your wicked mother,
Lord Hartledon turned this letter about in his hand. He scarcely noticed the mistake at the conclusion: the dowager had doubtless intended to imply that he was wicked, and the slip of the pen in her temper went for nothing.
Galloping about Rotten Row with women!
Hartledon sent his thoughts back, endeavouring to recollect what could have given rise to this charge. One morning, after a sleepless night, when he had tossed and turned on his uneasy bed, and risen unrefreshed, he hired a horse, for he had none in town, and went for a long ride. Coming back he turned into Rotten Row. He could not tell why he did so, for such places, affected by the gay, empty-headed votaries of fashion, were little consonant to his present state. He was barely in it when a lady’s horse took fright: she was riding alone, with a groom following; Lord Hartledon gave her his assistance, led her horse until the animal was calm, and rode side by side with her to the end of the Row. He knew not who she was; scarcely noticed whether she was young or old; and had not given a remembrance to it since.