She was silent, listening to his reproaches with a sullen dumbness, as it seemed to him, while he stood there in his agony of doubt—in his despairing love. He turned from her with a heart-broken sigh, and slowly left the room, going away he scarce knew whither, only to put himself beyond the possibility of saying hard things to her, of letting burning, branding words flash out of the devouring fire in his heart.
She stood for a few moments after he had gone, hesitating, breathless, and frightened, like a hunted animal at bay—[Pg 183]then ran to the door, opened it softly, and listened. She could hear him pacing the room above. Again she stood still and hesitated, her lips tightly set, her hands clenched, her brow bent in painful thought. Then she snatched hat and jacket from a corner of the hall where such things were kept, and put them on hurriedly, with trembling hands, as if her fate depended upon the speed with which she got herself ready to go out, looking up at the great, dim, brazen face of the eight-day clock all the while. And then she let herself out at a half-glass door into the garden, and walked quickly to a side gate that opened in to the lane—the gate at which the baker and the butcher stopped to gossip with the maids on fine mornings.
There was a cold bracing wind, and the sun was declining in a sky barred with dense black clouds—an ominous sky, prophetic of storm or rain. Isola walked up the hill towards Tywardreath as if she were going on an errand of deadliest moment, skirted and passed the village, with no slackening of her pace, and so by hill and valley to Par, a long and weary walk under ordinary circumstances for a delicate young woman, although accustomed to long country walks. But Isola went upon her lonely journey with a feverish determination which seemed to make her unconscious of distance. Her steps never faltered upon the hard, dusty road. The autumn wind that swept the dead leaves round her feet seemed to hold her up and carry her along without effort upon her part. Past copse and meadow, common land and stubble, she walked steadily onward, looking neither to right nor left of her path, only straight forward to the signal lights that showed fiery red in the grey dusk at Par Junction. She watched the lights growing larger and more distinct as she neared the end of her journey. She saw the fainter lights of the village scattered thinly beyond the station lamps, low down towards the sandy shore. She heard the distant rush of a train, and the dull sob of the sea creeping up along the level shore, between the great cliffs that screened the bay. A clock struck six as she[Pg 184] waited at the level crossing, in an agony of impatience, while truck after truck of china clay crept slowly by, in a procession that seemed endless; and then 佛山桑拿q群 for the first time she felt that the wind was cold, and that her thin serge jacket did not protect her from that biting blast. Finally the line was clear, and she was able to cross and make her way to the village post-office.
Her business at the post-office occupied about a quarter of
an hour, and when she came out into the village street the sky had darkened, and there were heavy rain-drops making black spots upon the grey dust of the road; but she hurried back by the way she had come, recrossed the line, and set out on the long journey home. The shower did not last long, but it was not the only one she encountered on her way back, and the poor little jacket was wet through when she re-entered by the servant’s gate, and by the half-glass door, creeping stealthily into her own house and running upstairs to her own room to get rid of her wet garments before any one could 佛山桑拿按摩网 surprise her with questions and sympathy. It was past eight o’clock, though she had walked so fast all the way as to feel neither cold nor damp. She took off her wet clothes and dressed herself for dinner in fear and trembling, imagining
that her absence would have been wondered at, and her errand would be questioned. It was an infinite relief when she went down to the drawing-room to find only Allegra sitting at her easel, working at a sepia sketch by lamplight.
“Martin is very late,” she said, looking up as Isola entered, “and he is generally a model of punctuality. I hope there is nothing wrong. Where have you been hiding yourself since lunch, Isa? Have you been lying down?”
“Yes, part of the time”—hesitatingly. “It is very late.”
“Twenty minutes to nine. Dale has been in twice in the last quarter of an hour to say that the dinner is being spoilt. Hark! There’s the door, 佛山桑拿葵花蒲点 and Martin’s step. Thank God, there is nothing wrong!” cried Allegra, getting up and going out to meet her brother.
Colonel Disney’s countenance as he stood in the
lamplight was not so reassuring as the substantial fact of his return. It was something to know that he was not dead, or hurt in any desperate way—victim of any of those various accidents which the morbid mind of woman can imagine if husband or kinsman be unusually late for dinner; but that things were all right with him was open to question. He was ghastly pale, and had a troubled, half-distracted expression which seared Allegra almost as much as his prolonged absence had done.
“I am sure there is something wrong!” she said, when they were seated at dinner, and the parlour-maid had withdrawn for a minute or two in pursuance of her duties, having started them fairly with the fish.
“Oh no, there is nothing particularly amiss; I have been worried a little, 佛山飞机桑拿0757 that’s all. I am very sorry to be so unconscionably late for dinner, and to sit down in this unkempt condition. But I loitered at the club looking at the London papers. I shall have to go to London to-morrow, Isola—on business—and I want you to go with me. Have you any objection?”
She started at the word London, and looked at him curiously—surprised, yet resolute—as if she were not altogether unprepared for some startling proposition on his part.
“Of course not. I would rather go with you if you really have occasion to go.”
“I really have. It is very important. You won’t mind our deserting you for two or three days, will you, Allegra?” asked Disney, turning to his sister. “Mrs. Baynham will be at your service as chaperon if you want to go out anywhere while we are away. It is an office in which she delights.”
“I won’t trouble her. I shall stay at home, and paint all the time. I have a good deal of work to do to my pictures before they will be ready for the winter exhibition, and the time for sending in is drawing 黄岐桑拿体验 dreadfully near.[Pg 186] You need have no anxiety as to my gadding about, Martin. You will find me shut up in my painting-room, come home when you will.”
Later, when she and her brother were alone in the drawing-room, she went up to him softly and put her arms around his neck.
“Martin, dearest, I know you have some great trouble. Why don’t you tell me? Is it anything very bad? Does it mean loss of fortune; poverty to be faced; this pretty home to be given up, perhaps?”
“No, no, no, my dear. The home is safe enough; the house will stand firm as long as you and I live. I am not a shilling poorer than I was yesterday. There is nothing the matter—nothing worth speaking about; blue devils, vapours if you like. That’s all.”
“You are ill, Martin. You have found out that there is something wrong with you—heart, lungs, something—and you are going to London to consult a physician. Oh, my dear, dear brother,” she cried, with a look of agony, her arms still clasped about his neck, “don’t keep me in the dark; let me know the worst.”
“There is no worst, Allegra. I am out of sorts, that’s all. I am going to town to see my lawyer.”
“MY LIFE CONTINUES YOURS, AND YOUR LIFE MINE.”
They started by the eleven-o’clock train from Fowey next morning, husband and wife, in a strangely silent companionship—Isola very pale and still as she sat in a corner of the railway carriage, with her back to the rivers and the sea. Naturally, in a place of that kind, they could not get away without being seen by some of their neighbours. Captain Pentreath was going to Bodmin, and insisted upon throwing away a half-finished cigar in order to enjoy the privilege of Colonel and Mrs. Disney’s society, being one of those un[Pg 187]meditative animals who hate solitude. He talked all the way to Par, lit a fresh cigar during the wait at the junction, and reappeared just as the colonel and his wife were taking their seats in the up-train.
“Have you room for me in there?” he asked, sacrificing more than half of his second cigar. “I’ve got the Mercury—Jepps is in for Stokumpton—a great triumph for our side.”
He spread out the paper, and made believe to begin to read with a great show of application, as if he meant to devour every syllable of Jepps’s long exposition of the political situation; but after two minutes he dropped the Mercury on his knees and began to talk. There were people in Fowey who doubted whether Captain Pentreath could read. He had been able once, of course, or he could hardly have squeezed himself into the Army; but there was an idea that he had forgotten the accomplishment, except in its most elementary form upon sign-boards, and in the headings of newspaper articles, printed large. It was supposed that the intensity of effort by which he had taken in the cramming that enabled him to pass the ordeal of the Examiners had left his brain a blank.
“You’re not going further than Plymouth, I suppose?” he asked.
“We are going to London.”
“Are you really, now? A bad time of year for London—fogs and thaws, and all kinds of beastly weather.”
And then he asked a string of questions—futile, trivial, vexing as summer flies buzzing round the head of an afternoon sleeper; and then came the welcome cry of Bodmin Road, and he reluctantly left them.
The rest of the journey was passed almost in silence. They had the compartment to themselves for the greater part of the time, and they sat in opposite corners, pretending to read—Isola apparently absorbed in a book that she had taken up at random just before she started, when the carriage was at the door, and while Allegra was calling to her to make haste.
It was Carlyle’s “Hero Worship.” The big words, the magnificent sentences, passed before her eyes like lines in an unknown language. She had not the faintest idea what she was reading; but she followed the lines and turned the leaf at the bottom of a page mechanically.
Martin Disney applied himself to the newspapers which he had accumulated on the way—some at Par, some at Plymouth, some at Exeter, till the compartment was littered all over with them. He turned and tossed them about one after the other. Never had they seemed so empty—the leaders such mere beating the air; the hard facts so few and insignificant. He glanced at Isola as she sat in her corner, motionless and composed. He watched the slender, white hands turning the leaves of her book at regular intervals.
“Is your book very interesting?” he asked, at last, exasperated by her calmness.
He had been attentive and polite to her, offering her the papers, ordering tea for her at Exeter, doing all that a courteous husband ought to do; but he had made no attempt at conversation—nor had she. This question about the book was wrung from him by the intensity of his irritation.
“It is a book you gave me years ago at Dinan,” she answered, looking at him piteously. “‘Hero Worship.’ Don’t you remember? I had never read anything of Carlyle’s before then. You taught me to like him.”
“Did I? Yes, I remember—a little Tauchnitz volume bound in morocco—contraband in England. A cheat—like many things in this life.”
He turned his face resolutely to the window, as if to end the conversation, and he did not speak again till they were moving slowly into the great station, in the azure brightness of the electric light.
“I have telegraphed for rooms at Whitley’s,” he said, naming a small private hotel near Cavendish Square, where they had stayed for a few days before he started for the East.
“Do you think it would be too late for us to call at Hans Place before we go to our hotel?”