Two on a Tower
On the third morning after the young man's departure Lady Constantine opened
the post-bag anxiously. Though she had risen before four o'clock, and crossed to
the tower through the gray half- light when every blade and twig were furred with
rime, she felt no languor. Expectation could banish at cock-crow the eye-
heaviness which apathy had been unable to disperse all the day long.
There was, as she had hoped, a letter from Swithin St. Cleeve.
'DEAR LADY CONSTANTINE,--I have quite succeeded in my mission, and shall
return to-morrow at 10 p.m. I hope you have not failed in the observations.
Watching the star through an opera-glass Sunday night, I fancied some change
had taken place, but I could not make myself sure. Your memoranda for that
night I await with impatience. Please don't neglect to write down AT THE
MOMENT, all remarkable appearances both as to colour and intensity; and be
very exact as to time, which correct in the way I showed you.--I am, dear Lady
Constantine, yours most faithfully, SWITHIN ST. CLEEVE.'
Not another word in the letter about his errand; his mind ran on nothing but this
astronomical subject. He had succeeded in his mission, and yet he did not even
say yes or no to the great question,--whether or not her husband was
masquerading in London at the address she had given.
'Was ever anything so provoking!' she cried.
However, the time was not long to wait. His way homeward would lie within a
stone's-throw of the manor-house, and though for certain reasons she had
forbidden him to call at the late hour of his arrival, she could easily intercept him
in the avenue. At twenty minutes past ten she went out into the drive, and stood
in the dark. Seven minutes later she heard his footstep, and saw his outline in the
slit of light between the avenue-trees. He had a valise in one hand, a great-coat
on his arm, and under his arm a parcel which seemed to be very precious, from
the manner in which he held it.
'Lady Constantine?' he asked softly.
'Yes,' she said, in her excitement holding out both her hands, though he had
plainly not expected her to offer one.
'Did you watch the star?'
'I'll tell you everything in detail; but, pray, your errand first!'
'Yes, it's all right. Did you watch every night, not missing one?'
'I forgot to go--twice,' she murmured contritely.
'Oh, Lady Constantine!' he cried in dismay. 'How could you serve me so! what
shall I do?'
'Please forgive me! Indeed, I could not help it. I had watched and watched, and
nothing happened; and somehow my vigilance relaxed when I found nothing was
likely to take place in the star.'
'But the very circumstance of it not having happened, made it all the more likely
'Have you--seen--' she began imploringly.