The Nest of the Sparrowhawk
XXIV. November The 2D
A dreary day, with a leaden sky overhead and the monotonous patter of
incessant rain against the window panes.
Sir Marmaduke de Chavasse had just come downstairs, and opening the door
which lead from the hall to the small withdrawing-room on the right, he saw
Mistress de Chavasse, half-sitting, half-crouching in one of the stiff-backed
chairs, which she had drawn close to the fire.
There was a cheerful blaze on the hearth, and the room itself--being small--
always looked cozier than any other at Acol Court.
Nevertheless, Editha's face was pallid and drawn, and she stared into the fire
with eyes which seemed aglow with anxiety and even with fear. Her cloak was
tied loosely about her shoulders, and at sight of Sir Marmaduke she started, then
rising hurriedly, she put her hood over her head, and went towards the door.
"Ah! my dear Editha!" quoth her brother-in-law, lightly greeting her, "up betimes
like the lark I see.... Are you going without?" he added as she made a rapid
movement to brush past him and once more made for the door.
"Yes!" she replied dully, "I must fain move about ... tire myself out if I can ... I am
consumed with anxiety."
"Indeed?" he retorted blandly, "why should you be anxious? Everything is going
splendidly ... and to-night at the latest a fortune of nigh on £500,000 will be
placed in my hands by a fond and adoring woman."
He caught the glitter in her eyes, that suggestion of power and of unspoken
threats which she had adopted since the episode in the Bath Street house. For
an instant an ugly frown further disfigured his sour face: but this frown was only
momentary, it soon gave way to a suave smile. He took her hand and lightly
touched it with his lips.
"After which, my dear Editha," he said, "I shall be able to fulfill those obligations,
which my heart originally dictated."
She seemed satisfied at this assurance, for she now spoke in less aggressive
"Are you so sure of the girl, Marmaduke?" she asked.
"Absolutely," he replied, his thoughts reverting to a day spent at Dover nearly
three months ago, when a knot was tied of which fair Editha was not aware, but
which rendered Sir Marmaduke de Chavasse very sure of a fortune.
"Yet you have oft told me that Sue's love for her mysterious prince had vastly
cooled of late!" urged Editha still anxiously.