His pulses were beating wildly, his face was flushed, the hands that still held hers shook with a nameless emotion; he looked imploringly into her face, as if to read his sentence in her eyes, but what he saw there arrested the torrent of repentance and regret that was upon his lips.
Upon Vera’s face there was no flush either of shame or anger. No storm of indignation, no passion of insulted feeling; only eyes wide open and terror-stricken, that met his with the unspeakable horror that one sees sometimes in those of a hunted animal. She was pale as death. Then suddenly the colour flushed hotly back into her face; she averted her eyes.
“Let me go home,” she said, in a faint voice; “help me to get on to my horse, Maurice.”
There was neither resentment nor anger in her voice, only a great weariness.
He obeyed her in silence. Possibly he felt that he had stood for one instant upon the verge of a precipice, and that miraculously her face had saved him, he knew not how, where words would only have dragged him down to unutterable ruin.
What had it been that had thus saved him? What was the meaning of that terror that had been written in her lovely eyes? Since she was not angry, what had she feared?
Maurice asked himself these questions vainly all the way home. Not a word was spoken between them; they rode in absolute silence side by side until they reached the house.
Then, as he lifted her off her horse at the hall-door, he whispered,
“Have you forgiven me?”
“There was nothing to forgive,” she answered, in a low, strained voice. She spoke wearily, as one who is suffering physical pain. But, as she spoke, the hand that he still held seemed almost, to his fancy, to linger for a second with a gentle fluttering pressure within his grasp.
Miss Nevill went into the house, having utterly forgotten that she had sprained her wrist; a fact which proves indisputably, I suppose, that the injury could not have been of a very serious nature.
That practised falsehood under saintly
Deep malice to conceal, couched with revenge.
Milton, “Paradise Lost.”
Old Lady Kynaston arrived at Shadonake in the worst possible temper. Her butler and factotum, who always made every arrangement for her when she was about to travel, had for once been unequal to cope with Bradshaw; he had looked out the wrong train, and had sent off his lady and her maid half-an-hour too late from Walpole Lodge.
The consequence was that, instead of reaching Shadonake comfortably at half-past six in the afternoon, Lady Kynaston had to wait for the next train. She ate her dinner alone, in London, at the Midland Railway Hotel, and never reached her destination till half-past nine on the night of the ball.