‘There are others who can act for you.’
’Very well. Then we are at a deadlock. It seems to me that we had better shake hands like sensible people, and say good-bye.’
‘Much better—if it seems so to you.’
The time for emotional help was past. In very truth they had nothing more to say to each other, being now hardened in obstinacy. Each suffered from the other’s coldness, each felt angry with the other’s stubborn refusal to concede a point of dignity. Everard put out his hand.
’When you are ready to say that you have used me very ill, I shall remember only yesterday. Till then—good-bye, Rhoda.’
She made a show of taking his hand, but said nothing. And so they parted.
* * *
At eight o’clock next morning Barfoot was seated in the southward train. He rejoiced that his strength of will had thus far asserted itself. Of final farewell to Rhoda he had no thought whatever. Her curiosity would, of course, compel her to see Monica; one way or another she would learn that he was blameless. His part was to keep aloof from her, and to wait for her inevitable submission.
Violent rain was beating upon the carriage windows; it drove from the mountains, themselves invisible, though dense low clouds marked their position. Poor Rhoda! She would not have a very cheerful day at Seascale. Perhaps she would follow him by a later train. Certain it was that she must be suffering intensely—and that certainly rejoiced him. The keener her suffering the sooner her submission. Oh, but the submission should be perfect! He had seen her in many moods, but not yet in the anguish of broken pride. She must shed tears before him, declare her spirit worn and subjugated by torment of jealousy and fear. Then he would raise her, and seat her in the place of honour, and fall down at her feet, and fill her soul with rapture.
Many times between Seascale and London he smiled in anticipation of that hour.
Whilst the rain pelted, and it did so until afternoon, Rhoda sat in her little parlour, no whit less miserable than Barfoot imagined. She could not be sure whether Everard had gone to London; at the last moment reflection or emotion might have detained him. Early in the morning she had sent to post a letter for Miss Barfoot, written last night—a letter which made no revelation of her feelings, but merely expressed a cold curiosity to hear anything that might become known as to the course of Mr. Widdowson’s domestic troubles. ’You may still write to this address; if I leave, letters shall be forwarded.’
When the sky cleared she went out. In the evening she again rambled about the shore. Evidently Barfoot had gone; if still here, he would have watched and joined her.