“You here, Cornelia! That was kind. How are you? Isabel, this is my sister.”
Lady Isabel put forth her hand, and Miss Carlyle condescended to touch the tips of her fingers. “I hope you are well, ma’am,” she jerked out.
Mr. Carlyle left them together, and went back to search for some trifles which had been left in the carriage. Miss Carlyle led the way to a sitting-room, where the supper-tray was laid. “You would like to go upstairs and take your things off before upper, ma’am?” she said, in the same jerking tone to Lady Isabel.
“Thank you. I will go to my rooms, but I do not require supper. We have dined.”
“Then what would you like to take?” asked Miss Corny.
“Some tea, if you please, I am very thirsty.”
“Tea!” ejaculated Miss Corny. “So late as this! I don’t know that they have boiling water. You’d never sleep a wink all night, ma’am, if you took tea at eleven o’clock.”
“Oh, then, never mind,” replied Lady Isabel. “It is of no consequence. Do not let me give trouble.”
Miss Carlyle whisked out of the room; upon what errand was best known to herself; and in the hall she and Marvel came to an encounter. No words passed, but each eyed the other grimly. Marvel was very stylish, with five flounces to her dress, a veil, and a parasol. Meanwhile, Lady Isabel sat down and burst into bitter tears and sobs. A chill had come over her; it did not seem like coming to East Lynne. Mr. Carlyle entered and witnessed the grief.
“Isabel!” he uttered in amazement, as he hastened up to her. “My darling, what ails you?”
“I am tired, I think,” she gently answered; “and coming into the house again made me think of papa. I should like to go to my rooms, Archibald, but I don’t know which they are.”
Neither did Mr. Carlyle know, but Miss Carlyle came whisking in again, and said: “The best rooms; those next the library. Should she go up with my lady?”
Mr. Carlyle preferred to go himself, and he held out his arm to Isabel. She drew her veil over her face as she passed Miss Carlyle.
The branches were not lighted, and the room looked cold and comfortless. “Things seem all sixes and sevens in the house,” remarked Mr. Carlyle. “I fancy the servants must have misunderstood my letter, and not have expected us until to-morrow night.”
On returning to the sitting-room Mr. Carlyle inquired the cause of the servants’ negligence.
“I sent them away because they were superfluous encumbrances,” hastily replied Miss Carlyle. “We have four in the house, and my lady has brought a fine maid, I see, making five. I have come up here to live.”
Mr. Carlyle felt checkmated. He had always bowed to the will of Miss Corny, but he had an idea that he and his wife should be better without her. “And your house?” he exclaimed.