Selina was grieved at this state of things, and tried to argue and comfort her mistress with the most amiable proverbs, but she was quite unable to administer to a mind diseased, and Mrs Villiers’ life became a perfect hell upon earth.
‘Are my troubles never going to end?’ she said to Selina on the night of the Meddlechip ball, as she paced restlessly up and down her room; ’this man has embittered the whole of my life, and now he is stabbing me in the dark.’
‘Let the dead past bury its dead,’ quoted Selina, who was arranging the room for the night.
‘Pshaw!’ retorted Madame, impatiently, walking to the French window at the end of the room and opening it; ’how do you know he is dead? Come here, Selina,’ she went on, beckoning to the old woman, and pointing outside to the garden bathed in moonlight; ’I have always a dread lest he may be watching the house. Even now he may be concealed yonder’—pointing down the garden.
Selina looked out, but could see nothing. There was a smooth lawn, burnt and yellow with the heat, which stretched for about fifty feet, and ended in a low quickset hedge at the foot of a red brick wall which ran down that side of the property. The top of this wall was set with broken bottles, and beyond was the street, where they could hear people passing along. The moonlight rendered all this as light as day, and, as Selina pointed out to her mistress, there was no place where a man could conceal himself. But this did not satisfy Madame; she left the window half open, so that the cool night wind could blow in, and drew together the red velvet curtains which hung there.
‘You’ve left the window open,’ remarked Selina, looking at her mistress, ‘and if you are nervous it will not make you feel safe.’
Madame Midas glanced at the window.
‘It’s so hot,’ she said, plaintively, ’I will get no sleep. Can’t you manage to fix it up, so that I can leave it open?’