“And what do I know of where she be gone? She went off in a sedan-chair this morning before seven o’clock, and if you was to put me to the rack I couldn’t say no more.”
As to which way or with whom she had gone, the old woman was, apparently, really ignorant.
The poor Major had to return home baffled and despairing, still taking the tipstaff with him, in case, on consultation with Mr. Belamour, it should be deemed expedient to storm Hanover Square itself, and examine Lady Belamour and her servants upon oath.
Behold, the parlour was empty. Even Betty and Eugene were absent. The Major hastened to knock at Mr. Belamour’s door. There was no answer; and when he knocked louder it was still in vain. He tried the door and found it locked. Then he retreated to the sitting-room, rang, and made inquiries of the waiter who answered the bell.
Mr. Belamour had received a note at about ten o’clock, and had gone out with him “in great disorder,” said the waiter.
At the same moment there was a knock at the door, and a billet was brought in from Lady Belamour. The Major tore it open and read:—
“MY DEAR COUSIN,
“I grieve for you, but my Suspicions were correct. We have all been completely hoodwinked by that old Villain, my Brother-in-law. I can give him no other Name, for his partial Aberration of Mind has only sharpened his natural Cunning. Would you believe it? He had obtained access to Delavie House, and had there hidden the unfortunate Object of your Search, while he pretended to be assisting you, and this Morning he carried her off in a Sedan. I have sent the good Doves to Bowstead in case he should have the Assurance to return to his old Quarters, but I suspect that they are on the Way to Dover. You had better consult with Hargrave on the means of confirming the strange Marriage Ceremony that has passed between them, since that affords the best Security for your Daughter’s Maintenance and Reputation. Believe me, I share in your Distress. Indeed I have so frightful a Megrim that I can scarcely tell what I write, and I dare not admit you to-day.
“Your loving and much-grieved Cousin,
Poor Major! His horror, perplexity, and despair were indescribable. He had one only hope—that Sir Amyas and Betty might be on the track.
After all these there marcht a most faire dame,
Led of two gryslie villains, th’ one Despight,
The other cleped Crueltie by name.
The traces of occupation had not deceived Major Delavie; Aurelia had been recently in Delavie House, and we must go back some way in our narrative to her arrival there.
She had, on her return from Sedhurst on that Sunday, reached Bowstead, and entered by the lobby door just as Lady Belamour was coming down the stairs only attended by her woman, and ready to get into the carriage which waited at the hall door.