Her father was now constantly away from home. He told her that he travelled on business. It scarcely seemed to be a relief to him to rest awhile in his chair; indeed, Paul had grown incapable of resting. Time was deepening the lines of anxiety on his sallow face. His mind seemed for ever racked with painful calculation. Mrs. Enderby, too, spent much time away from the house, and Maud knew nothing of her engagements. One thing, however, Maud could not help noticing, and that was that her mother was clearly very extravagant in her mode of living. New and costly dresses were constantly being purchased, as well as articles of luxury for the house. Mrs. Enderby had of late provided herself with a femme de chambre, a young woman who arrayed herself with magnificence in her mistresses castoff dresses, and whose appearance and demeanour had something the reverse of domestic. Maud almost feared her. Then there was a hired brougham constantly in use. Whenever Mrs. Enderby spent an evening at home, company was sure to be entertained; noisy and showy people filled the drawing-room, and remained till late hours. Maud did not even see their faces, but the voices of one or two men and women became only too familiar to her; even in the retirement of her room she could not avoid hearing these voices, and they made her shudder. Especially she was conscious of Mr. Rudge’s presence; she knew his very step on the stairs, and waited in feverish apprehension for the first notes of an accompaniment on the piano, which warned her that he was going to sing. He had a good voice, and it was often in request. Sometimes the inexplicable dread of his singing was more than she could bear; she would hurry on her walking-attire, and, stealing like a shadow down the stairs, would seek refuge in pacing about the streets of the neighbourhood, heedless of weather or the hour.
Mrs. Enderby never came down to breakfast. One morning, when Paul happened to be at home, he and Maud had finished that meal in silence, and Maud was rising to leave the room, when her father checked her. He leaned over the table towards her, and spoke in an anxious undertone.