The Evil Genius
20. The Mother-in-Law
Strong as the impression was which Captain Bennydeck had produced on Randal, Mrs.
Presty's first words dismissed it from his mind. She asked him if he had any message for
Randal instantly looked at the clock. "Has Catherine not sent to the farm, yet?" he asked
Mrs. Presty's mind seemed to be absorbed in her daughter. "Ah, poor Catherine! Worn
out with anxiety and watching at Kitty's bedside. Night after night without any sleep;
night after night tortured by suspense. As usual, she can depend on her old mother for
sympathy. I have taken all her household duties on myself, till she is in better health."
Randal tried again. "Mrs. Presty, am I to understand (after the plain direction Herbert
gave) that no messenger has been sent to the farm?"
Mrs. Presty held her venerable head higher than ever, when Randal pronounced his
brother's name. "I see no necessity for being in a hurry," she answered stiffly, "after the
brutal manner in which Herbert has behaved to me. Put yourself in my place--and
imagine what you would feel if you were told to hold your tongue."
Randal wasted no more time on ears that were deaf to remonstrance. Feeling the serious
necessity of interfering to some good purpose, he asked where he might find his sister-in-
"I have taken Catherine into the garden," Mrs. Presty announced. "The doctor himself
suggested--no, I may say, ordered it. He is afraid that she may fall ill next, poor soul, if
she doesn't get air and exercise."
In Mrs. Linley's own interests, Randal resolved on advising her to write to her husband
by the messenger; explaining that she was not to blame for the inexcusable delay which
had already taken place. Without a word more to Mrs. Presty, he hastened out of the
room. That inveterately distrustful woman called him back. She desired to know where
he was going, and why he was in a hurry.
"I am going to the garden," Randal answered.
"To speak to Catherine?"
"Needless trouble, my dear Randal. She will be back in a quarter of an hour, and she will
pass through this room on her way upstairs."