“Left?” uttered Barbara.
Mr. Carlyle explained. He told her how they had come to his house the previous evening after Barbara’s departure, and his encounter with Tom Herbert that day; he mentioned, also, his interview with Bethel.
“Can he have gone on purpose, fearing consequences?” wondered Barbara.
“Scarcely; or why should he have come?”
“You did not suffer any word to escape you last night causing him to suspect for a moment that he was hounded?”
“Not any. You would make a bad lawyer, Barbara.”
“Who or what is he?”
“An officer in her majesty’s service, in John Herbert’s regiment. I ascertained no more. Tom said he was of good family. But I cannot help suspecting it is the same man.”
“Can nothing more be done?”
“Nothing in the present stage of the affair,” continued Mr. Carlyle, as he passed through the gate to continue his way. “We can only wait on again with what patience we may, hoping that time will bring about its own elucidation.”
Barbara pressed her forehead down on the cold iron of the gate as his footsteps died away. “Aye, to wait on,” she murmured, “to wait on in dreary pain; to wait on, perhaps, for years, perhaps forever! And poor Richard—wearing out his days in poverty and exile!”
GOING FROM HOME.
“I should recommend a complete change of scene altogether, Mr. Carlyle. Say some place on the French or Belgian coast. Sea bathing might do wonders.”
“Should you think it well for her to go so far from home?”
“I should. In these cases of protracted weakness, where you can do nothing but try to coax the strength back again, change of air and scene are of immense benefit.”
“I will propose it to her,” said Mr. Carlyle.
“I have just done so,” replied Dr. Martin, who was the other speaker. “She met it with objection, which I expected, for invalids naturally feel a disinclination to move from home. But it is necessary that she should go.”
The object of their conversation was Lady Isabel. Years had gone on, and there were three children now at East Lynne—Isabel, William, and Archibald—the latter twelve months old. Lady Isabel had, a month or two back, been attacked with illness; she recovered from the disorder; but it had left her in an alarming state of weakness; she seemed to get worse instead of better, and Dr. Martin was summoned from Lynneborough. The best thing he could recommend—as you save seen—was change of air.