Once she had a terrible alarm, on a Sunday. Letty came rushing to her, declaring that Jumbo, dear Jumbo, and a gentleman were in the front court. Was it really Jumbo? Come and see! No, she durst not, and Fay almost instantly declared that Madge had shut them out. The children both insisted that Jumbo it was, but Aurelia would not believe that it could be anything but an attempt of her enemies. She interrogated Madge, who had grown into a certain liking for one so submissive and inoffensive. Madge shook her head, could not guess how such folks had got into the court, was sure they were after no good, and declared that my Lady should hear of all the strange doings, and the letters that had been left with her. Oh, no, she knew better than to give them, but my Lady should see them.
But one more task I charge thee with to-day,
For unto Proserpine then take thy way,
And give this golden casket to her hands.
Late on that Sunday afternoon, a muffled and masked figure came through the house into the court behind, and after the first shock Aurelia was relieved to see that it was too tall, and moved too gracefully, to belong to Loveday.
“Why, child, what a colour you have!” said Lady Belamour, taking off her mask. “You need no aids to nature at your happy age. That is right, children,” as they curtsied and kissed her hand. “Go into the house, I wish to speak with your cousin.”
Lady Belamour’s unfailing self-command gave her such dignity that she seemed truly a grand and majestic dame dispensing justice, and the gentle, shrinking Aurelia like a culprit on trial before her.
“You have been here a month, Aurelia Delavie. Have you come to your senses, and are you ready to sign this paper?”
“No, madam, I cannot.”
“Silly fly; you are as bent as ever on remaining in the web in which a madman and a foolish boy have involved you?”
“I cannot help it, madam.”
“Oh! I thought,” and her voice became harshly clear, though so low, “that you might have other schemes, and be spreading your toils at higher game.”
“Certainly not, madam.”
“Your colour shows that you understand, in spite of all your pretences.”
“I have never used any pretences, my lady,” said Aurelia, looking up in her face with clear innocent eyes.
“You have had no visitors? None!”
“None, madam, except once when the Lady Arabella Mar forced her way in, out of curiosity, I believe, and her brother followed to take her away.”
“Her brother? You saw him?” Each word came out edged like a knife from between her nearly closed lips.