“I am indeed sorry to intrude, Sir Everard,” the newcomer declared, with a shade of genuine concern on his round, good-humoured face. “Something has happened which I thought you ought to know at once. Can you spare me a moment?”
The Princess swept past them without a word of farewell or a backward glance. She had the carriage and the air of an insulted queen. A shade of deeper trouble came into Seaman’s face as he stepped respectfully to one side.
“What is it that has happened?” Dominey demanded.
“Lady Dominey has returned,” was the quiet reply.
It seemed to Dominey that he had never seen anything more pathetic than that eager glance, half of hope, half of apprehension, flashed upon him from the strange, tired eyes of the woman who was standing before the log fire in a little recess of the main hall. By her side stood a pleasant, friendly looking person in the uniform of a nurse; a yard or two behind, a maid carrying a jewel case. Rosamund, who had thrown back her veil, had been standing with her foot upon the fender. Her whole expression changed as Dominey came hastily towards her with outstretched hands.
“My dear child,” he exclaimed, “welcome home!”
“Welcome?” she repeated, with a glad catch in her throat. “You mean it?”
With a self-control of which he gave no sign, he touched the lips which were raised so eagerly to his as tenderly and reverently as though this were some strange child committed to his care.
“Of course I mean it,” he answered heartily. “But what possessed you to come without giving us notice? How was this, nurse?”
“Her ladyship has had no sleep for two nights,” the latter replied. “She has been so much better that we dreaded the thought of a relapse, so Mrs. Coulson, our matron, thought it best to let her have her own way about coming. Instead of telegraphing to you, unfortunately, we telegraphed to Doctor Harrison, and I believe he is away.”
“Is it very wrong of me?” Rosamund asked, clinging to Dominey’s arm. “I had a sudden feeling that I must get back here. I wanted to see you again. Every one has been so sweet and kind at Falmouth, especially Nurse Alice here, but they weren’t quite the same thing. You are not angry? These people who are staying here will not mind?”
“Of course not,” he assured her cheerfully. “They will be your guests. To-morrow you must make friends with them all.”
“There was a very beautiful woman,” she said timidly, “with red hair, who passed by just now. She looked very angry. That was not because I have come?”
“Why should it be?” he answered. “You have a right here—a better right than any one.”
She drew a long sigh of contentment.
“Oh, but this is wonderful!” she cried. “And you dear,—I shall call you Everard, mayn’t I?—you look just as I hoped you might. Will you take me upstairs, please? Nurse, you can follow us.”