18. The Events Of Three Days
1. MARCH THE EIGHTEENTH
Sunday morning had come, and Owen was trudging over the six miles of hill and
dale that lay between Tolchurch and Carriford.
Edward Springrove's answer to the last letter, after expressing his amazement at
the strange contradiction between the verses and Mrs. Morris's letter, had been
to the effect that he had again visited the neighbour of the dead Mr. Brown, and
had received as near a description of Mrs. Manston as it was possible to get at
second- hand, and by hearsay. She was a tall woman, wide at the shoulders, and
full-chested, and she had a straight and rather large nose. The colour of her eyes
the informant did not know, for she had only seen the lady in the street as she
went in or out. This confusing remark was added. The woman had almost
recognized Mrs. Manston when she had called with her husband lately, but she
had kept her veil down. Her residence, before she came to Hoxton, was quite
unknown to this next-door neighbour, and Edward could get no manner of clue to
it from any other source.
Owen reached the church-door a few minutes before the bells began chiming.
Nobody was yet in the church, and he walked round the aisles. From Cytherea's
frequent description of how and where herself and others used to sit, he knew
where to look for Manston's seat; and after two or three errors of examination he
took up a prayer-book in which was written 'Eunice Manston.' The book was
nearly new, and the date of the writing about a month earlier. One point was at
any rate established: that the woman living with Manston was presented to the
world as no other than his lawful wife.
The quiet villagers of Carriford required no pew-opener in their place of worship:
natives and in-dwellers had their own seats, and strangers sat where they could.
Graye took a seat in the nave, on the north side, close behind a pillar dividing it
from the north aisle, which was completely allotted to Miss Aldclyffe, her farmers,
and her retainers, Manston's pew being in the midst of them. Owen's position on
the other side of the passage was a little in advance of Manston's seat, and so
situated that by leaning forward he could look directly into the face of any person
sitting there, though, if he sat upright, he was wholly hidden from such a one by
the intervening pillar.
Aiming to keep his presence unknown to Manston if possible, Owen sat, without
once turning his head, during the entrance of the congregation. A rustling of silk
round by the north passage and into Manston's seat, told him that some woman
had entered there, and as it seemed from the accompaniment of heavier
footsteps, Manston was with her.
Immediately upon rising up, he looked intently in that direction, and saw a lady
standing at the end of the seat nearest himself. Portions of Manston's figure
appeared on the other side of her. In two glances Graye read thus many of her
characteristics, and in the following order:--
She was a tall woman.
She was broad at the shoulders.