How They Lessened The Effect Of The Calamity
Meanwhile Anne Garland had gone home, and, being weary with her ramble in search of
Matilda, sat silent in a corner of the room. Her mother was passing the time in giving
utterance to every conceivable surmise on the cause of Miss Johnson's disappearance that
the human mind could frame, to which Anne returned monosyllabic answers, the result,
not of indifference, but of intense preoccupation. Presently Loveday, the father, came to
the door; her mother vanished with him, and they remained closeted together a long time.
Anne went into the garden and seated herself beneath the branching tree whose boughs
had sheltered her during so many hours of her residence here. Her attention was fixed
more upon the miller's wing of the irregular building before her than upon that occupied
by her mother, for she could not help expecting every moment to see some one run out
with a wild face and announce some awful clearing up of the mystery.
Every sound set her on the alert, and hearing the tread of a horse in the lane she looked
round eagerly. Gazing at her over the hedge was Festus Derriman, mounted on such an
incredibly tall animal that he could see to her very feet over the thick and broad thorn
fence. She no sooner recognized him than she withdrew her glance; but as his eyes were
fixed steadily upon her this was a futile manoeuvre.
'I saw you look round!' he exclaimed crossly. 'What have I done to make you behave like
that? Come, Miss Garland, be fair. 'Tis no use to turn your back upon me.' As she did not
turn he went on-- 'Well, now, this is enough to provoke a saint. Now I tell you what, Miss
Garland; here I'll stay till you do turn round, if 'tis all the afternoon. You know my
temper--what I say I mean.' He seated himself firmly in the saddle, plucked some leaves
from the hedge, and began humming a song, to show how absolutely indifferent he was
to the flight of time.
'What have you come for, that you are so anxious to see me?' inquired Anne, when at last
he had wearied her patience, rising and facing him with the added independence which
came from a sense of the hedge between them.
'There, I knew you would turn round!' he said, his hot angry face invaded by a smile in
which his teeth showed like white hemmed in by red at chess.
'What do you want, Mr. Derriman?' said she.
'"What do you want, Mr. Derriman?"--now listen to that! Is that my encouragement?'
Anne bowed superciliously, and moved away.
'I have just heard news that explains all that,' said the giant, eyeing her movements with
somnolent irascibility. 'My uncle has been letting things out. He was here late last night,
and he saw you.'