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Two on a Tower

Chapter 27
All night the astronomer's mind was on the stretch with curiosity as to what the
Bishop could wish to say to him. A dozen conjectures entered his brain, to be
abandoned in turn as unlikely. That which finally seemed the most plausible was
that the Bishop, having become interested in his pursuits, and entertaining
friendly recollections of his father, was going to ask if he could do anything to
help him on in the profession he had chosen. Should this be the case, thought
the suddenly sanguine youth, it would seem like an encouragement to that spirit
of firmness which had led him to reject his late uncle's offer because it involved
the renunciation of Lady Constantine.
At last he fell asleep; and when he awoke it was so late that the hour was ready
to solve what conjecture could not. After a hurried breakfast he paced across the
fields, entering the churchyard by the south gate precisely at the appointed
minute.
The inclosure was well adapted for a private interview, being bounded by bushes
of laurel and alder nearly on all sides. He looked round; the Bishop was not
there, nor any living creature save himself. Swithin sat down upon a tombstone to
await Bishop Helmsdale's arrival.
While he sat he fancied he could hear voices in conversation not far off, and
further attention convinced him that they came from Lady Constantine's lawn,
which was divided from the churchyard by a high wall and shrubbery only. As the
Bishop still delayed his coming, though the time was nearly eleven, and as the
lady whose sweet voice mingled with those heard from the lawn was his personal
property, Swithin became exceedingly curious to learn what was going on within
that screened promenade. A way of doing so occurred to him. The key was in the
church door; he opened it, entered, and ascended to the ringers' loft in the west
tower. At the back of this was a window commanding a full view of Viviette's
garden front.
The flowers were all in gayest bloom, and the creepers on the walls of the house
were bursting into tufts of young green. A broad gravel-walk ran from end to end
of the facade, terminating in a large conservatory. In the walk were three people
pacing up and down. Lady Constantine's was the central figure, her brother being
on one side of her, and on the other a stately form in a corded shovel-hat of
glossy beaver and black breeches. This was the Bishop. Viviette carried over her
shoulder a sunshade lined with red, which she twirled idly. They were laughing
and chatting gaily, and when the group approached the churchyard many of their
remarks entered the silence of the church tower through the ventilator of the
window.
The conversation was general, yet interesting enough to Swithin. At length Louis
stepped upon the grass and picked up something that had lain there, which
turned out to be a bowl: throwing it forward he took a second, and bowled it
towards the first, or jack. The Bishop, who seemed to be in a sprightly mood,
followed suit, and bowled one in a curve towards the jack, turning and speaking
to Lady Constantine as he concluded the feat. As she had not left the gravelled
terrace he raised his voice, so that the words reached Swithin distinctly.
 
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