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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 309 pages of information about Madame Midas.
feeling of being watched that haunted her and made her uneasy.  The constant strain began to tell on her; she became ill and haggard-looking, and her eyes were always glancing around in the anxious manner common to hunted animals.  She felt as though she were advancing on a masked battery, and at any moment a shot might strike her from the most unexpected quarter.  She tried to laugh off the feeling and blamed herself severely for the morbid state of mind into which she was falling; but it was no use, for by day and night the sense of impending misfortune hung over her like the sword of Damocles, ready to fall at any moment.  If her husband would only appear, she would settle an income on him, on condition he ceased to trouble her, but at present she was fighting in the dark with an unknown enemy.  She became afraid of being left alone, and even when seated quietly with Selina, would suddenly start and look apprehensively towards the door, as if she heard his footstep.  Imagination, when uncontrolled, can keep the mind on a mental rack, to which that of the Inquisition was a bed of roses.

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?’

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