The Enderbys were at Brighton during the autumn. Mr. Enderby only remained with them two or three days at a time, business requiring his frequent presence in town. Maud would have been glad to spend her holidays at some far quieter place, but her mother enjoyed Brighton, and threw herself into its amusements of the place with spirits which seemed to grow younger. They occupied handsome rooms, and altogether lived in a more expensive way than when at home.
Maud was glad to see her mother happy, but could not be at ease herself in this kind of life. It was soon arranged that she should live in her own way, withholding from the social riot which she dreaded, and seeking rest in out-of-the-way parts of the shore, where more of nature was to be found and less of fashion. Maud feared lest her mother should feel this as an unkind desertion, but Mrs. Enderby was far from any such trouble; it relieved her from the occasional disadvantage of having by her side a grown-up daughter, whose beauty so strongly contrasted with her own. So Maud spent her days very frequently in exploring the Downs, or in seeking out retired nooks beneath the cliffs, where there was no sound in her ears but that of the waves. She would sit for hours with no companion save her thoughts, which were unconsciously led from phase to phase by the moving lights and shadows upon the sea, and the soft beauty of unstable clouds.
Even before leaving London, she had begun to experience a frequent sadness of mood, tending at times to weariness and depression, which foreshadowed new changes in her inner life. The fresh delight in nature and art had worn off in some degree; she read less, and her thoughts took the habit of musing upon the people and circumstances about her, also upon the secrets of the years to come. She grew more conscious of the mystery in her own earlier life, and in the conditions which now surrounded her. A sense which at times besets all imaginative minds came upon her now and then with painful force; a fantastic unreality would suddenly possess all she saw and heard; it seemed as if she had been of a sudden transported out of the old existence into this new and unrealised position; if any person spoke to her, it was difficult to feel that she was really addressed and must reply; was it not all a mere vision she was beholding, out of which she would presently awake! Such moments were followed by dark melancholy. This life she was leading could not last, but would pass away in some fearful shock of soul. Once she half believed herself endowed with the curse of a hideous second-sight. Sitting with her father and mother, silence all at once fell upon the room, and everything was transfigured in a ghostly light. Distinctly she saw her mother throw her head back and raise to her throat what seemed to be a sharp, glistening piece of steel; then came