There was no answer. Madame Vine sat on, with her white face. She and it wore altogether a ghastly look.
“It tells like a fable out of a romance,” resumed Mrs. Carlyle. “Well for him if the romance be not ended in the gibbet. Fancy what it would be for him—Sir Francis Levison—to be hung for murder!”
“Barbara, my dearest!”
The voice was Mr. Carlyle’s, and she flew off on the wings of love. It appeared that the gentlemen had not yet departed, and now thought they would take coffee first.
She flew off to her idolized husband, leaving her who had once been idolized to her loneliness. She sank down on the sofa; she threw her arms up in her heart-sickness; she thought she would faint; she prayed to die. It was horrible, as Barbara had called it. For that man with the red stain upon his hand and soul she had flung away Archibald Carlyle.
If ever retribution came home to woman, it came home in that hour to Lady Isabel.
MR. CARLYLE INVITED TO SOME PATE DE FOIE GRAS.
A sighing morning wind swept round the domains of East Lynne, bending the tall poplar trees in the distance, swaying the oak and elms nearer, rustling the fine old chestnuts in the park, a melancholy, sweeping, fitful wind. The weather had changed from brightness and warmth, and heavy, gathering clouds seemed to be threatening rain; so, at least, deemed one wayfarer, who was journeying on a solitary road that Saturday night.
He was on foot. A man attired in the garb of a sailor, with black, curling ringlets of hair, and black, curling whiskers; a prodigious pair of whiskers, hiding his neck above his blue, turned collar, hiding partially his face. The glazed hat, brought low upon his brows, concealed it still more; and he wore a loose, rough pea-jacket and wide rough trousers hitched up with a belt. Bearing steadily on, he struck into Bean lane, a by-way already mentioned in this history, and from thence, passing through a small, unfrequented gate, he found himself in the grounds of East Lynne.
“Let me see,” mused he as he closed the gate behind him, and slipped the bolt. “The covered walk? That must be near the acacia trees. Then I must wind round to the right. I wonder if either of them will be there, waiting for me?”
Yes. Pacing the covered walk in her bonnet and mantle, as if taking an evening stroll—had any one encountered her, which was very unlikely, seeing that it was the most retired spot in the grounds—was Mrs. Carlyle.
“Oh, Richard! My poor brother!”
Locked in a yearning embrace, emotion overpowered both. Barbara sobbed like a child. A little while, and then he put her from him, to look at her.
“So Barbara, you are a wife now?”
“Oh, the happiest wife! Richard, sometimes I ask myself what I have done that God should have showered down blessings so great upon me. But for the sad trouble when I think of you, my life would be as one long summer’s day. I have the sweetest baby—nearly a year old he is now; I shall have another soon, God willing. And Archibald—oh, I am so happy!”