“What should you have done?” he smiled.
“I should have asked you to pay him for me, and I would have repaid you as soon as I had any money. I had a great mind to ask you, do you know; it would have been less painful than being obliged to beg of Lord Mount Severn.”
“I hope it would,” he answered, in a low, earnest tone. “What else can I do for you?”
She was about to answer “Nothing—that he had done enough,” but at that moment their attention was attracted by a bustle outside, and they moved to the window.
It was the carriage coming round for Lady Isabel—the late earl’s chariot, which was to convey her to the railway station six or seven miles off. It had four post-horses to it, the number having been designated by Lord Mount Severn, who appeared to wish Isabel to leave the neighborhood in as much state as she had entered it. The carriage was packed, and Marvel was perched outside.
“All is ready,” she said, “and the time is come for me to go. Mr. Carlyle I am going to leave you a legacy—those pretty gold and silver fish that I bought a few weeks back.”
“But why do you not take them?”
“Take them to Lady Mount Severn! No, I would rather leave them with you. Throw a few crumbs into the globe now and then.”
Her face was wet with tears, and he knew that she was talking hurriedly to cover her emotion.
“Sit down a few minutes,” he said.
“No—no. I had better go at once.”
He took her hand to conduct her to the carriage. The servants were gathered in the hall, waiting for her. Some had grown gray in her father’s service. She put out her hand, she strove to say a word of thanks and of farewell, and she thought she would choke at the effort of keeping down the sobs. At length it was over; a kind look around, a yearning wave of the hand, and she passed on with Mr. Carlyle.
Pound had ascended to his place by Marvel, and the postboys were awaiting the signal to start, but Mr. Carlyle had the carriage door open again, and was bending in holding her hand.
“I have not said a word of thanks to you for all your kindness, Mr. Carlyle,” she cried, her breath very labored. “I am sure you have seen that I could not.”
“I wish I could have done more; I wish I could have shielded you from the annoyances you have been obliged to endure!” he answered. “Should we never meet again—”
“Oh, but we shall meet again,” she interrupted. “You promised Lord Mount Severn.”
“True; we may so meet casually—once in a way; but our ordinary paths in life lie far and wide apart. God forever bless you, dear Lady Isabel!”
The postboys touched their horses, and the carriage sped on. She drew down the blinds and leaned back in an agony of tears—tears for the house she was leaving, for the father she had lost. Her last thoughts had been of gratitude to Mr. Carlyle: but she had more cause to be grateful to him than she yet knew of. Emotion soon spent itself, and, as her eyes cleared, she saw a bit of crumpled paper lying on her lap, which appeared to have fallen from her hand. Mechanically she took it up and opened it; it was a bank-note for one hundred pounds.