They both hurried to my side. I was sitting up in my chair, pointing, my eyes fixed with surprise. I do not know even now why the incident should so much have alarmed me, but it is a fact that for the moment I was palsied with fear. There had been murder in the man’s eyes, loathsome things in his white unkempt face. My tongue clove to the roof of my mouth. They gave me more brandy, and then I spoke.
“There was a man—looking in. A man’s face there, at the window!”
Ray took up the lamp and strode to the door. When he returned he exchanged a significant glance with Lady Angela.
“There is no one there now, at any rate,” he said. “I dare say it was fancy.”
“It was not,” I answered. “It was a man’s face—a horrible face.”
“The omnibus is coming back,” he said quietly. “The servants shall have a good look round.”
“I would not worry about it,” Lady Angela said, soothingly. “It is easy to fancy things when one is not well.”
So they meant to treat me like a child. I said nothing, but it was a long time before my limbs ceased to shake. The tall servant reappeared with a huge luncheon basket—all manner of delicacies were emptied out upon my table. Lady Angela was making something in a clip, Ray was undoing a gold-foiled bottle. Soon I found myself eating and drinking, and the blood once more was mashing through my veins. I was my own man again, rescued by charity. And of all the women in the world, fate had sent this one to play the Lady Bountiful.
“You are looking better, my young friend,” Colonel Ray said presently.
“I feel-quite all right again, thank you,” I answered. “I wish I could thank you and Lady Angela.”
“You must not attempt anything of the sort,” she declared. “My father, by-the-bye, Mr. Ducaine, wished me to express his great regret that he should have interfered in any way with your arrangements for this evening. You know, there are so many stupid people around here who have never understood anything at all about the war, and he was very anxious to get Colonel Ray to talk to them. He had no idea, however, that it was the night fixed for your lecture, and he hopes that you will accept the loan of the village hall from him any night you like, and we should so much like all of us to come.”
“His Grace is very kind,” I murmured. “I fear, however, that the people are not very much interested in lectures, even about their own neighbourhood.”
“I am, at any rate,” Lady Angela answered, smiling, “and I think we can promise you an audience.”
Colonel Ray, who had been standing at the window, came back to us.
“If I may be permitted to make a suggestion, Lady Angela,” he said, “I think it would be well if you returned home now, and I will follow shortly on foot.”