The instant quashing of her purpose by their absence affected her brain as a sudden vacuum affects the body: she nearly fainted. Who had done this? There was only one person on the premises besides herself. Eustacia involuntarily turned to the open window which overlooked the garden as far as the bank that bounded it. On the summit of the latter stood Charley, sufficiently elevated by its height to see into the room. His gaze was directed eagerly and solicitously upon her.
She went downstairs to the door and beckoned to him.
“You have taken them away?”
“Why did you do it?”
“I saw you looking at them too long.”
“What has that to do with it?”
“You have been heart-broken all the morning, as if you did not want to live.”
“And I could not bear to leave them in your way. There was meaning in your look at them.”
“Where are they now?”
“In the stable.”
“Give them to me.”
“I do. I care too much for you to give ’em up.”
She turned aside, her face for the first time softening from the stony immobility of the earlier day, and the corners of her mouth resuming something of that delicacy of cut which was always lost in her moments of despair. At last she confronted him again.
“Why should I not die if I wish?” she said tremulously. “I have made a bad bargain with life, and I am weary of it—weary. And now you have hindered my escape. O, why did you, Charley! What makes death painful except the thought of others’ grief?—and that is absent in my case, for not a sigh would follow me!”
“Ah, it is trouble that has done this! I wish in my very soul that he who brought it about might die and rot, even if ’tis transportation to say it!”
“Charley, no more of that. What do you mean to do about this you have seen?”
“Keep it close as night, if you promise not to think of it again.”
“You need not fear. The moment has passed. I promise.” She then went away, entered the house, and lay down.
Later in the afternoon her grandfather returned. He was about to question her categorically; but on looking at her he withheld his words.
“Yes, it is too bad to talk of,” she slowly returned in answer to his glance. “Can my old room be got ready for me tonight, grandfather? I shall want to occupy it again.”
He did not ask what it all meant, or why she had left her husband, but ordered the room to be prepared.
An Old Move Inadvertently Repeated