Thus much of the story then was confirmed, and Gerald had little or no doubt of the rest of it, but he was obliged to leave the pursuit of the quest to his uncle and aunt, being somewhat consoled for having to return to England by the expectation of hearing from Mr. Maurice Mohun.
Twice he returned for his aunt’s last kiss, nay, even a third time, and then with the half-choked words, “My true, my dearest mother!”
And he absolutely bent his knee as he asked for his uncle Clement’s blessing.
CHAPTER XXVII. THE RED MANTLE
And deemed themselves a shameful part
Of pageant which they cursed in heart.-SCOTT.
Dolores was waiting till the Christmas term to go to her college. The fame of her volcanic lectures had reached Avoncester, and she was entreated to repeat them at the High School there. The Mouse-trap had naturally been sent to Miss Vincent, the former governess, who had become head-mistress of the High School at Silverton, and she wrote an urgent request that her pupils might have the advantage of the lectures. Would Dolores come and give her course there, and stay a few days with her, reviving old times?
Dolores consented, being always glad of an opportunity of trying her wings, though she had not the pleasantest recollections connected with Silverton, but she would be really glad to see Miss Vincent, who had been always kind to her. So she travelled up to Silverton, and found the head-mistress living in cheerful rooms, with another of the teachers in the same house, all boarding together, but with separate sitting-rooms.
Dolores’ first walk was to see Miss Hackett. It was quite startling to find the good old lady looking exactly the same as when she had come to luncheon at Silverfold, and arranged for G. F. S., and weakly stood up for her sister nine years previously, those years which seemed ages long ago to the maiden who had made the round of the world since, while the lady had only lived in her Casement Cottage, and done almost the same things day by day.
There was one exception, however, Constance had married a union doctor in the neighbourhood. She came into Silverton to see her old acquaintance, and looked older and more commonplace than Dolores could have thought possible, and her talk was no longer of books and romances, but of smoking chimneys, cross landlords, and troublesome cooks, and the wicked neglects of her vicar’s and her squire’s wife. As Dolores walked back to Silverton, she heard drums and trumpets, and was nearly swept away by a rushing stream of little boys and girls. Then came before her an elephant, with ornamental housing and howdah, and a train of cars, meant to be very fine, but way-worn and battered, with white and piebald steeds, and gaudy tinselly drivers, and dames in scarlet and blue, much needing a washing, distributing coloured sheets about the grand performance to take place that night at eight o’clock, of the Sepoy’s Death Song and the Bleeding Bride.