The Lair of the White Worm
26. Face To Face
Mimi was greatly distressed when she saw her cousin lying prone. She had a few times in
her life seen Lilla on the verge of fainting, but never senseless; and now she was
frightened. She threw herself on her knees beside Lilla, and tried, by rubbing her hands
and other measures commonly known, to restore her. But all her efforts were unavailing.
Lilla still lay white and senseless. In fact, each moment she looked worse; her breast, that
had been heaving with the stress, became still, and the pallor of her face grew like
At these succeeding changes Mimi's fright grew, till it altogether mastered her. She
succeeded in controlling herself only to the extent that she did not scream.
Lady Arabella had followed Caswall, when he had recovered sufficiently to get up and
walk--though stumblingly--in the direction of Castra Regis. When Mimi was quite alone
with Lilla and the need for effort had ceased, she felt weak and trembled. In her own
mind, she attributed it to a sudden change in the weather--it was momentarily becoming
apparent that a storm was coming on.
She raised Lilla's head and laid it on her warm young breast, but all in vain. The cold of
the white features thrilled through her, and she utterly collapsed when it was borne in on
her that Lilla had passed away.
The dusk gradually deepened and the shades of evening closed in, but Mimi did not seem
to notice or to care. She sat on the floor with her arms round the body of the girl whom
she loved. Darker and blacker grew the sky as the coming storm and the closing night
joined forces. Still she sat on--alone--tearless--unable to think. Mimi did not know how
long she sat there. Though it seemed to her that ages had passed, it could not have been
more than half-an-hour. She suddenly came to herself, and was surprised to find that her
grandfather had not returned. For a while she lay quiet, thinking of the immediate past.
Lilla's hand was still in hers, and to her surprise it was still warm. Somehow this helped
her consciousness, and without any special act of will she stood up. She lit a lamp and
looked at her cousin. There was no doubt that Lilla was dead; but when the lamp-light
fell on her eyes, they seemed to look at Mimi with intent--with meaning. In this state of
dark isolation a new resolution came to her, and grew and grew until it became a fixed
definite purpose. She would face Caswall and call him to account for his murder of Lilla-
-that was what she called it to herself. She would also take steps--she knew not what or
how--to avenge the part taken by Lady Arabella.
In this frame of mind she lit all the lamps in the room, got water and linen from her room,
and set about the decent ordering of Lilla's body. This took some time; but when it was
finished, she put on her hat and cloak, put out the lights, and set out quietly for Castra