Lady Isabel was startled. An English gentleman—to see her!
English for certain, was Susanne’s answer, for she had difficulty to comprehend his French.
Who could be desirous to see her? One out of the world and forgotten! “Susanne,” she cried aloud, a thought striking her, “it is never Sir Fran—it is not monsieur!”
“Not in the least like monsieur,” complacently answered Susanne. “It is a tall, brave English gentleman, proud and noble looking like a prince.”
Every pulse within Lady Isabel’s body throbbed rebelliously: her heart bounded till it was like to burst her side, and she turned sick with astonishment.
“Tall, brave, noble?” could that description apply to any but Mr. Carlyle? Strange that so unnatural an idea should have occurred to her; it would not have done so in a calmer moment. She rose, tottered across the chamber, and prepared to descend. Susanne’s tongue was let loose at the proceeding.
“Was miladi out of her senses? To attempt going downstairs would be a pretty ending, for she’d surely fall by the way. Miladi knew that the bottom step was of lead, and that no head could pitch down upon that, without ever never being a head any more, except in the hospitals. Let miladi sit still in her place and she’d bring the monsieur up. What did it signify? He was not a young petit maitre, to quiz things: he was fifty, if he was a day: his hair already turned to fine gray.”
This set the question touching Mr. Carlyle at rest, and her heart stilled again. The next moment she was inwardly laughing in her bitter mockery at her insensate folly. Mr. Carlyle come to see her! Her! Francis Levison might be sending over some man of business, regarding the money question, was her next thought: if so, she should certainly refuse to see him.
“Go down to the gentleman and ask him his name Susanne. Ask also from whence he came.”
Susanne disappeared, and returned, and the gentleman behind her. Whether she had invited him, or whether he had chosen to come uninvited, there he was. Lady Isabel caught a glimpse, and flung her hands over her burning cheeks of shame. It was Lord Mount Severn.
“How did you find out where I was?” she gasped, when some painful words had been uttered on both sides.
“I went to Sir Francis Levison and demanded your address. Certain recent events implied that he and you must have parted, and I therefore deemed it time to inquire what he had done with you.”
“Since last July,” she interrupted. Lifting up her wan face, now colorless again. “Do not think worse of me than I am. He was here in December for an hour’s recriminating interview, and we parted for life.”
“What have you heard of him lately?”
“Not anything. I never know what is passing in the world at home; I have no newspaper, no correspondence; and he would scarcely be so bold as to write to me again.”