A quick physical fear caught hold of him. In a moment his voice changed to entreaty. “I beg you won’t go, my dear boy. Wilfrid, I tell you, don’t go. Because, you wouldn’t act like a d—d—I’m not angry; but it is like acting like a—Here’s company, Wilfrid; come to me, my boy; do come here. You mayn’t ha—have your poor old father long, now he’s got you u—up in the world. I mean accidents, for I’m sound enough; only a little nervous from brain—Is he gone?”
Wilfrid was then leaving the room.
Lady Gosstre had been speaking to Mr. Powys. She was about to say a word to Lady Charlotte, when the latter walked to the doorway, and. In a manner that smote his heart with a spasm of gratitude, said; “Don’t heed these people. He will bring on a fit if you don’t stop. His nerves are out, and the wine they have given him... Go to him: I will go to Emilia, and do as much for her as you could.”
Wilfrid reached his father in time to see him stagger back into the arms of Mrs. Chump, whose supplication was for the female stimulant known as ‘something.’
On reaching home that night, Arabella surprised herself thinking, in the midst of her anguish: “Whatever is said of us, it cannot be said that there is a house where the servants have been better cared for.” And this reflection continued to burn with an astounding brilliancy through all the revolutions of a mind contemplating the dread of a fallen fortune, the fact of a public exposure, and what was to her an ambition destroyed. Adela had no such thoughts. “I have been walking on a plank,” she gasped from time to time, as she gave startled glances into the abyss of poverty, and hurried to her bedchamber—a faint whisper of self-condemnation in her ears at the ‘I’ being foremost. The sisters were too proud to touch upon one another’s misery in complaints, or to be common by holding debate on it. They had not once let their eyes meet at Besworth, as the Tinleys wonderingly noticed. They said good night to their papa, who was well enough to reply, adding peremptorily, “Downstairs at half-past eight,”—an intimation that he would be at the break-fast table and read prayers as usual. Inexperienced in nervous disease, they were now filled with the idea that he was possibly acting—a notion that had never been kindled in them before; or, otherwise, how came these rapid, almost instantaneous, recoveries?
Cornelia alone sounded near the keynote. Since the night that she had met him in the passage, and the next morning when Mrs. Chump had raised the hubbub about her loss, Cornelia’s thoughts had been troubled by some haunting spectral relationship with money. It had helped to make her reckless in granting interviews to Purcell Barrett. “If we are poor, I am free;” and that she might then give herself to whomever she pleased, was her logical deduction. The exposure at Besworth, and