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Two on a Tower

Chapter 34
Sunday morning came, and complicated her previous emotions by bringing a new and
unexpected shock to mingle with them. The postman had delivered among other things an
illustrated newspaper, sent by a hand she did not recognize; and on opening the cover the
sheet that met her eyes filled her with a horror which she could not express. The print was
one which drew largely on its imagination for its engravings, and it already contained an
illustration of the death of Sir Blount Constantine. In this work of art he was represented
as standing with his pistol to his mouth, his brains being in process of flying up to the
roof of his chamber, and his native princess rushing terror-stricken away to a remote
position in the thicket of palms which neighboured the dwelling.
The crude realism of the picture, possibly harmless enough in its effect upon others,
overpowered and sickened her. By a curious fascination she would look at it again and
again, till every line of the engraver's performance seemed really a transcript from what
had happened before his eyes. With such details fresh in her thoughts she was going out
of the door to make arrangements for confirming, by repetition, her marriage with
another. No interval was available for serious reflection on the tragedy, or for allowing
the softening effects of time to operate in her mind. It was as though her first husband had
died that moment, and she was keeping an appointment with another in the presence of
his corpse.
So revived was the actuality of Sir Blount's recent life and death by this incident, that the
distress of her personal relations with Swithin was the single force in the world which
could have coerced her into abandoning to him the interval she would fain have set apart
for getting over these new and painful impressions. Self-pity for ill-usage afforded her
good reasons for ceasing to love Sir Blount; but he was yet too closely intertwined with
her past life to be destructible on the instant as a memory.
But there was no choice of occasions for her now, and she steadily waited for the church
bells to cease chiming. At last all was silent; the surrounding cottagers had gathered
themselves within the walls of the adjacent building. Tabitha Lark's first voluntary then
droned from the tower window, and Lady Constantine left the garden in which she had
been loitering, and went towards Rings-Hill Speer.
The sense of her situation obscured the morning prospect. The country was unusually
silent under the intensifying sun, the songless season of birds having just set in. Choosing
her path amid the efts that were basking upon the outer slopes of the plantation she
wound her way up the tree-shrouded camp to the wooden cabin in the centre.
The door was ajar, but on entering she found the place empty. The tower door was also
partly open; and listening at the foot of the stairs she heard Swithin above, shifting the
telescope and wheeling round the rumbling dome, apparently in preparation for the next
nocturnal reconnoitre. There was no doubt that he would descend in a minute or two to