The Nest of the Sparrowhawk HTML version

XXIII. The Absent Friend
The prince kept his word, and she was fairly free to see him at least once a
week, somewhere within the leafy thicknesses of the park or in the woods,
usually at the hour when dusk finally yields to the overwhelming embrace of
Sir Marmaduke was away. In London or Canterbury, she could not say, but she
had scarcely seen him since that terrible time, when he came back from town
having left Richard Lambert languishing in disgrace and in prison.
Oh! how she missed the silent and thoughtful friend who in those days of pride
and of joy had angered her so, because he seemed to stand for conscience and
for prudence, when she only thought of happiness and of love.
There was an almost humiliating isolation about her now. Nobody seemed to
care whither she went, nor when she came home. Mistress de Chavasse talked
from time to time about Sue's infatuation for the mysterious foreign adventurer,
but always as if this were a thing of the past, and from which Sue herself had
long since recovered.
Thus there was no one to say her nay, when she went out into the garden after
evening repast, and stayed there until the shades of night had long since
wrapped the old trees in gloom.
And strangely enough this sense of freedom struck her with a chill sense of
loneliness. She would have loved to suddenly catch sight of Lambert's watchful
figure, and to hear his somewhat harsh voice, warning her against the foreigner.
This had been wont to irritate her twelve weeks ago. How mysteriously
everything had altered round her!
And yearning for her friend, she wondered what had become of him. The last she
had heard was toward the middle of October when Sir Marmaduke, home from
one of his frequent journeyings, one day said that Lambert had been released
after ten weeks spent in prison, but that he could not say whither he had gone
since then.
All Sue's questionings anent the young man only brought forth violent
vituperations from Sir Marmaduke, and cold words of condemnation from
Mistress de Chavasse; therefore, she soon desisted, storing up in her heart
pathetic memories of the one true friend she had in the world.
She saw without much excitement, and certainly without tremor, the rapid
advance of that date early in November when she would perforce have to leave