The Great Impersonation HTML version

Chapter 17
It seemed to Dominey that he had never seen anything more pathetic than that eager
glance, half of hope, half of apprehension, flashed upon him from the strange, tired eyes
of the woman who was standing before the log fire in a little recess of the main hall. By
her side stood a pleasant, friendly looking person in the uniform of a nurse; a yard or two
behind, a maid carrying a jewel case. Rosamund, who had thrown back her veil, had been
standing with her foot upon the fender. Her whole expression changed as Dominey came
hastily towards her with outstretched hands.
"My dear child," he exclaimed, "welcome home!"
"Welcome?" she repeated, with a glad catch in her throat. "You mean it?"
With a self-control of which he gave no sign, he touched the lips which were raised so
eagerly to his as tenderly and reverently as though this were some strange child
committed to his care.
"Of course I mean it," he answered heartily. "But what possessed you to come without
giving us notice? How was this, nurse?"
"Her ladyship has had no sleep for two nights," the latter replied. "She has been so much
better that we dreaded the thought of a relapse, so Mrs. Coulson, our matron, thought it
best to let her have her own way about coming. Instead of telegraphing to you,
unfortunately, we telegraphed to Doctor Harrison, and I believe he is away."
"Is it very wrong of me?" Rosamund asked, clinging to Dominey's arm. "I had a sudden
feeling that I must get back here. I wanted to see you again. Every one has been so sweet
and kind at Falmouth, especially Nurse Alice here, but they weren't quite the same thing.
You are not angry? These people who are staying here will not mind?"
"Of course not," he assured her cheerfully. "They will be your guests. To-morrow you
must make friends with them all."
"There was a very beautiful woman," she said timidly, "with red hair, who passed by just
now. She looked very angry. That was not because I have come?"
"Why should it be?" he answered. "You have a right here--a better right than any one."
She drew a long sigh of contentment.
"Oh, but this is wonderful!" she cried. "And you dear,--I shall call you Everard, mayn't
I?--you look just as I hoped you might. Will you take me upstairs, please? Nurse, you can
follow us."