The Evil Genius
17. The Husband
Mrs. Linley's first impulse in ordering the carriage was to use it herself. One look at the
child reminded her that her freedom of action began and ended at the bedside. More than
an hour must elapse before Sydney Westerfield could be brought back to Mount Morven;
the bare thought of what might happen in that interval, if she was absent, filled the
mother with horror. She wrote to Mrs. MacEdwin, and sent her maid with the letter.
Of the result of this proceeding it was not possible to entertain a doubt.
Sydney's love for Kitty would hesitate at no sacrifice; and Mrs. MacEdwin's conduct had
already answered for her. She had received the governess with the utmost kindness, and
she had generously and delicately refrained from asking any questions. But one person at
Mount Morven thought it necessary to investigate the motives under which she had acted.
Mrs. Presty's inquiring mind arrived at discoveries; and Mrs. Presty's sense of duty
communicated them to her daughter.
"There can be no sort of doubt, Catherine, that our good friend and neighbor has heard,
probably from the servants, of what has happened; and (having her husband to consider--
men are so weak!) has drawn her own conclusions. If she trusts our fascinating
governess, it's because she knows that Miss Westerfield's affections are left behind her in
this house. Does my explanation satisfy you?"
Mrs. Linley said: "Never let me hear it again!"
And Mrs. Presty answered: "How very ungrateful!"
The dreary interval of expectation, after the departure of the carriage, was brightened by a
Thinking it possible that Mrs. Presty might know why her husband had left the house,
Mrs. Linley sent to ask for information. The message in reply informed her that Linley
had received a telegram announcing Randal's return from London. He had gone to the
railway station to meet his brother.
Before she went downstairs to welcome Randal, Mrs. Linley paused to consider her
situation. The one alternative before her was to acknowledge at the first opportunity that
she had assumed the serious responsibility of sending for Sydney Westerfield. For the
first time in her life, Catherine Linley found herself planning beforehand what she would
say to her husband.
A second message interrupted her, announcing that the two brothers had just arrived. She
joined them in the drawing-room.