“Betty, I’m so thirsty—so thirsty. Get me a cup of tea.”
The stout form heaved itself from the chair and came toward the bed.
“Yes, my lovey, at once. It’ll do you good. That’s a brave girl.”
The moment the door clicked to, Gyp sprang up. Her veins throbbed; her whole soul was alive with cunning. She ran to the wardrobe, seized her long fur coat, slipped her bare feet into her slippers, wound a piece of lace round her head, and opened the door. All dark and quiet! Holding her breath, stifling the sound of her feet, she glided down the stairs, slipped back the chain of the front door, opened it, and fled. Like a shadow she passed across the grass, out of the garden gate, down the road under the black dripping trees. The beginning of light was mixing its grey hue into the darkness; she could just see her feet among the puddles on the road. She heard the grinding and whirring of a motor-car on its top gear approaching up the hill, and cowered away against the hedge. Its light came searching along, picking out with a mysterious momentary brightness the bushes and tree-trunks, making the wet road gleam. Gyp saw the chauffeur turn his head back at her, then the car’s body passed up into darkness, and its tail-light was all that was left to see. Perhaps that car was going to the Red House with her father, the doctor, somebody, helping to keep her alive! The maniacal hate flared up in her again; she flew on. The light grew; a man with a dog came out of a gate she had passed, and called “Hallo!” She did not turn her head. She had lost her slippers, and ran with bare feet, unconscious of stones, or the torn-off branches strewing the road, making for the lane that ran right down to the river, a little to the left of the inn, the lane of yesterday, where the bank was free.
She turned into the lane; dimly, a hundred or more yards away, she could see the willows, the width of lighter grey that was the river. The river—“Away, my rolling river!”—the river—and the happiest hours of all her life! If he were anywhere, she would find him there, where he had sung, and lain with his head on her breast, and swum and splashed about her; where she had dreamed, and seen beauty, and loved him so! She reached the bank. Cold and grey and silent, swifter than yesterday, the stream was flowing by, its dim far shore brightening slowly in the first break of dawn. And Gyp stood motionless, drawing her breath in gasps after her long run; her knees trembled; gave way. She sat down on the wet grass, clasping her arms round her drawn-up legs, rocking herself to and fro, and her loosened hair fell over her face. The blood beat in her ears; her heart felt suffocated; all her body seemed on fire, yet numb. She sat, moving her head up and down—as the head of one moves that is gasping her last—waiting for breath—breath and strength to let go life, to slip down into the grey water. And that queer