Two on a Tower
Lady Constantine flung down the old-fashioned lacework, whose beauties she
had been pointing out to Swithin, and exclaimed, 'Who can it be? Not Louis,
They listened. An arrival was such a phenomenon at this unfrequented mansion,
and particularly a late arrival, that no servant was on the alert to respond to the
call; and the visitor rang again, more loudly than before. Sounds of the tardy
opening and shutting of a passage-door from the kitchen quarter then reached
their ears, and Viviette went into the corridor to hearken more attentively. In a few
minutes she returned to the wardrobe-room in which she had left Swithin.
'Yes; it is my brother!' she said with difficult composure. 'I just caught his voice.
He has no doubt come back from Paris to stay. This is a rather vexatious,
indolent way he has, never to write to prepare me!'
'I can easily go away,' said Swithin.
By this time, however, her brother had been shown into the house, and the
footsteps of the page were audible, coming in search of Lady Constantine.
'If you will wait there a moment,' she said, directing St. Cleeve into a bedchamber
which adjoined; 'you will be quite safe from interruption, and I will quickly come
back.' Taking the light she left him.
Swithin waited in darkness. Not more than ten minutes had passed when a
whisper in her voice came through the keyhole. He opened the door.
'Yes; he is come to stay!' she said. 'He is at supper now.'
'Very well; don't be flurried, dearest. Shall I stay too, as we planned?'
'O, Swithin, I fear not!' she replied anxiously. 'You see how it is. To-night we have
broken the arrangement that you should never come here; and this is the result.
Will it offend you if--I ask you to leave?'
'Not in the least. Upon the whole, I prefer the comfort of my little cabin and
homestead to the gauntness and alarms of this place.'
'There, now, I fear you are offended!' she said, a tear collecting in her eye. 'I wish
I was going back with you to the cabin! How happy we were, those three days of
our stay there! But it is better, perhaps, just now, that you should leave me. Yes,
these rooms are oppressive. They require a large household to make them
cheerful. . . . Yet, Swithin,' she added, after reflection, 'I will not request you to
go. Do as you think best. I will light a night- light, and leave you here to consider.
For myself, I must go downstairs to my brother at once, or he'll wonder what I am
She kindled the little light, and again retreated, closing the door upon him.
Swithin stood and waited some time; till he considered that upon the whole it
would be preferable to leave. With this intention he emerged and went softly
along the dark passage towards the extreme end, where there was a little
crooked staircase that would conduct him down to a disused side door.
Descending this stair he duly arrived at the other side of the house, facing the
quarter whence the wind blew, and here he was surprised to catch the noise of