The Patrician eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 339 pages of information about The Patrician.

Judging at once from the expression of her face that she must have heard the news of Miltoun, Barbara said: 

“Well, my dear Angel, any lecture for me?”

Agatha answered coldly: 

“I think you were quite mad to take Mrs. Noel to him.”

“The whole duty of woman,” murmured Barbara, “includes a little madness.”

Agatha looked at her in silence.

“I can’t make you out,” she said at last; “you’re not a fool!”

“Only a knave.”

“You may think it right to joke over the ruin of Miltoun’s life,” murmured Agatha; “I don’t.”

Barbara’s eyes grew bright; and in a hard voice she answered: 

“The world is not your nursery, Angel!”

Agatha closed her lips very tightly, as who should imply:  “Then it ought to be!” But she only answered: 

“I don’t think you know that I saw you just now in Gustard’s.”

Barbara eyed her for a moment in amazement, and began to laugh.

“I see,” she said; “monstrous depravity—­poor old Gustard’s!” And still laughing that dangerous laugh, she turned on her heel and went out.

At dinner and afterwards that evening she was very silent, having on her face the same look that she wore out hunting, especially when in difficulties of any kind, or if advised to ‘take a pull.’  When she got away to her own room she had a longing to relieve herself by some kind of action that would hurt someone, if only herself.  To go to bed and toss about in a fever—­for she knew herself in these thwarted moods—­was of no use!  For a moment she thought of going out.  That would be fun, and hurt them, too; but it was difficult.  She did not want to be seen, and have the humiliation of an open row.  Then there came into her head the memory of the roof of the tower, where she had once been as a little girl.  She would be in the air there, she would be able to breathe, to get rid of this feverishness.  With the unhappy pleasure of a spoiled child taking its revenge, she took care to leave her bedroom door open, so that her maid would wonder where she was, and perhaps be anxious, and make them anxious.  Slipping through the moonlit picture gallery on to the landing, outside her father’s sanctum, whence rose the stone staircase leading to the roof, she began to mount.  She was breathless when, after that unending flight of stairs she emerged on to the roof at the extreme northern end of the big house, where, below her, was a sheer drop of a hundred feet.  At first she stood, a little giddy, grasping the rail that ran round that garden of lead, still absorbed in her brooding, rebellious thoughts.  Gradually she lost consciousness of everything save the scene before her.  High above all neighbouring houses, she was almost appalled by the majesty of what she saw.  This night-clothed city, so remote and dark, so white-gleaming and alive, on whose purple hills and valleys grew such myriad golden flowers

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The Patrician from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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