“We have several weeks’ leave of absence. Whether we shall remain here all the time I cannot say.”
Barbara parted from them. Thought upon thought crowded upon her brain as she flew back to East Lynne. She ran up the steps to the hall, gliding toward a group which stood near its further end—her mother, Miss Carlyle, Mr. Carlyle, and little Isabel; Lady Isabel she did not see. Mrs. Hare was then going up to see Joyce.
In the agitation of the moment she stealthily touched Mr. Carlyle, and he stepped away from the rest to speak to her, she drawing back toward the door of one of the reception rooms, and motioning him to approach.
“Oh, Archibald, I must speak to you alone! Could you not come out again for a little while?”
He nodded, and walked out openly by her side. Why should he not? What had he to conceal? But, unfortunately, Lady Isabel, who had but gone into that same room for a minute, and was coming out again to join Mrs. Hare, both saw Barbara’s touch upon her husband’s arm, marked her agitation, and heard her words. She went to one of the hall windows and watched them saunter toward the more private part of the ground; she saw her husband send back Isabel. Never, since her marriage, had Lady Isabel’s jealousy been excited as it was excited that evening.
“I—I feel—I scarcely know whether I am awake or dreaming,” began Barbara, putting up her hand to her brow and speaking in a dreamy tone. “Pardon me for bringing you out in this unceremonious fashion.”
“What state secrets have you to discuss?” asked Mr. Carlyle in a jesting manner.
“We were speaking of mamma’s dream. She said the impression it had left upon her mind—that the murderer was in West Lynne—was so vivid that in spite of common sense she could not persuade herself that he was not. Well—just now——”
“Barbara, what can be the matter?” uttered Mr. Carlyle, perceiving that her agitation was so great as to impede her words.
“I have just seen him!” she rejoined.
“Seen him!” echoed Mr. Carlyle, looking at her fixedly, a doubt crossing his mind whether Barbara’s mind might be as uncollected as her manner.
“What were nearly my last words to you? That if ever that Thorn did come to West Lynne again, I would leave no stone unturned to bring it home to him. He is here, Archibald. Now, when I went to the gate to speak to Tom Herbert, his brother, Major Herbert, was also there, and with him Captain Thorn. Bethel, also. Do you wonder I say that I know not whether I am awake or dreaming? They have some weeks’ holiday, and are here to spend it.”
“It is a singular coincidence,” exclaimed Mr. Carlyle.
“Had anything been wanting to convince me that Thorn is the guilty man, this would have done it,” went on Barbara, in her excitement. “Mamma’s dream, with the steadfast impression it left upon her that Hallijohn’s murderer was now at West Lynne—”