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   Chapter 33 No.33

Come Rack! Come Rope! By Robert Hugh Benson Characters: 2688

Updated: 2017-11-30 00:05


When she had heard the horse's footsteps scramble down the little steep ascent in the dark, and then pass into silence on the turf beyond, she closed the outer door, barred it once more, and then went back straight into the hall, where the lantern still burned among the plates. She dared not face her mother yet; she must learn how far she still held control of herself; for her mother must not hear the news: the apothecary from Derby who had ridden up to see her this week had been very emphatic. So the girl must be as usual. There must be no sign of discomposure. To-night, at least, she would keep her face in the shadow. But her voice? Could she control that too?

After she had sat motionless in the cold hall a minute or two, she tested herself.

"He is dead," she said softly. "He is quite dead, and so are the others.

They-"

But she could not go on. Great shuddering seized on her; she shook from head to foot….

Later that night Mrs. Manners awoke. She tried to move her head, but the pain was shocking, and still half asleep, she moaned aloud.

Then the curtains moved softly, and she could see that a face was looking at her.

"Margy! Is that you?"

"Yes, mother."

"Move my head; move my head. I cannot bear-"

She felt herself lifted gently and strongly. The struggle and the pain exhausted her for a minut

e, and she lay breathing deeply. Then the ease of the shifted position soothed her.

"I cannot see your face," she said. "Where is the light?"

The face disappeared, and immediately, through the curtains, the mother saw the light. But still she could not see the girl's face. She said so peevishly.

"It will weary your eyes. Lie still, mother, and go to sleep again."

"What time is it?"

"I do not know."

"Are you not in bed?"

"Not yet, mother."

The sick woman moaned again once or twice, but thought no more of it.

And presently the deep sleep of sickness came down on her again.

* * * * *

They rose early in those days in England; and soon after six o'clock, as Janet had seen nothing of her young mistress, she opened the door of the sleeping-room and peeped in…. A minute later Marjorie's mind rose up out of black gulfs of sleep, in which, since her falling asleep an hour or two ago, she had wandered, bearing an intolerable burden, which she could neither see nor let fall, to find the rosy-streaked face of Janet, all pinched with cold, peering into her own. She sat up, wide awake, yet with all her world still swaying about her, and stared into her maid's eyes.

"What is it? What time is it?"

"It is after six, mistress. And the mistress seems uneasy. I-"

Marjorie sprang up and went to the bed.

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