But do not mistake the word terror, or suppose that Lady Isabel Carlyle applied it here in the vulgar acceptation of the term. She did not fear for herself; none could be more conscious of self-rectitude of principle and conduct; and she would have believed it as impossible for her ever to forsake her duty as a wife, a gentlewoman, and a Christian, as for the sun to turn round from west to east. That was not the fear which possessed her; it had never presented itself to her mind; what she did fear was, that further companionship with Francis Levison might augment the sentiments she entertained for him to a height that her life, for perhaps years to come, would be one of unhappiness, a sort of concealment; and, more than all, she shrank form the consciousness of the bitter wrong that these sentiments cast upon her husband.
“Archibald, I have a favor to ask you,” she said, after Captain Levison’s departure. “Take me back with you.”
“Impossible, my love. The change is doing you so much good; and I took the apartments for six weeks. You must at least remain that time.”
The color flowed painfully into her cheek. “I cannot stay without you, Archibald.”
“Tell me why.”
“I am so dull without you,” was all she could say. He felt that this was not reason enough for altering an arrangement that was so beneficial to her; so he left her the following morning, commending her to the continued care of Captain Levison.
QUITTING THE DANGER.
Lady Isabel was seated on one of the benches of the Petit Camp, as it is called, underneath the ramparts of the upper tower. A week or ten days had passed away since the departure of Mr. Carlyle, and in her health there was a further visible improvement.
It was still evening, cool for July; no sound was heard save the hum of the summer insects, and Lady Isabel sat in silence with her companion, her rebellious heart beating with a sense of its own happiness. But for the voice of conscience, strong within her; but for the sense of right and wrong; but for the existing things; in short, but that she was a wife, she might have been content to sit by his side forever, never to wish to move or to break the silence. Did he read her feelings? He told her, months afterward, that he did; but it may have been a vain boast, an excuse.
“Do you remember the evening, Lady Isabel, just such a one as this, that we all passed at Richmond?” he suddenly asked. “Your father, Mrs. Vane, you, I and others?”
“Yes, I remember it. We had spent a pleasant day; the two Miss Challoners were with us. You drove Mrs. Vane home, and I went with papa. You drove recklessly, I recollect, and Mrs. Vane said when we got home that you should never drive her again.”
“Which meant, not until the next time. Of all capricious, vain, exacting women, Emma Vane was the worst; and Emma Mount Severn is no improvement upon it; she’s a systematic flirt, and nothing better. I drove recklessly on purpose to put her in a fright, and pay her off.”