“Well, here I am,” was instantaneously answered; her waist was clasped, and her forehead was kissed.
The madness of Braintop’s libertinism petrified her.
“Ye’ve taken such a liberty, sir ’deed ye’ve forgotten yourself!”
While she was speaking; she grew confused with the thought that Braintop had mightily altered both his voice and shape. When on the doorstep he said; “Come out of the darkness or, upon my honour, I shall behave worse,” she recognized Wilfrid, and understood by his yachting costume in what manner he had come. He gave her no time to think of her dignity or her wrath. “Lady Charlotte is with me. I sleep at the hotel; but you have no objection to receive her, have you?” This set her mind upon her best bedroom, her linen, and the fitness of her roof to receive a title. Then, in a partial fit of gratitude for the honour, and immense thankfulness at being spared the task of the letter, she fell on Wilfrid’s shoulder, beginning to sob—till he, in alarm at his absurd position, suggested that Lady Charlotte awaited a welcome. Mrs. Chump immediately flew to her drawing-room and rang bells, appearing presently with a lamp, which she set on a garden-pillar. Together they stood by the lamp, a spectacle to ocean: but no Lady Charlotte drew near.
Though Mrs. Chump and Wilfrid, as they stood by the light of the lamp, saw no one, they themselves were seen. Lady Charlotte had arranged to give him a moment in advance to make his peace. She had settled it with that air of practical sense which her title made graceful to him. “I will follow; and I dare say I can complete what you leave unfinished,” she said. Her humorous sense of the aristocratic prestige was conveyed to him in a very taking smile. He scarcely understood why she should have planned so decisively to bring about a reconciliation between Mrs. Chump and his family; still, as it now chimed perfectly with his own views and wishes, he acquiesced in her scheme, giving her at the same time credit for more than common wisdom.
While Lady Charlotte lingered on the beach, she became aware of a figure that hung about her; as she was moving away, a voice of one she knew well enough asked to be directed to the house inhabited by Mrs. Chump. The lady was more startled than it pleased her to admit to herself.
“Don’t you know me?” she said, bluntly.
“You!” went Emilia’s voice.
“Why on earth are you here? What brings you here? Are you alone?” returned the lady.