At last she slept, distressed and worn out with thought.
For the first time in her life, when the bright sun shone into her room, Beatrice turned her face to the wall and dreaded the sight of day. The post-bag would leave the hall at nine in the morning--Hugh would have the letter at noon. Until then she was safe.
Noon came and went, but the length of the summer's day brought nothing save fresh misery. At every unusual stir, every loud peal of the bell, every quick footstep, she turned pale, and her heart seemed to die within her.
Lady Earle watched her with anxious eyes. She could not understand the change that had come over the brilliant young girl who had used to be the life of the house. Every now and then she broke out into wild feverish gayety. Lillian saw that something ailed her sister--she could not tell what.
For the fiftieth time that day, when the hall door bell sounded, Beatrice looked up with trembling lips she vainly tried to still. At last Lady Earle took the burning hands in her own.
"My dear child," she said, "you will have a nervous fever if you go on in this way. What makes you start at every noise? You look as though you were waiting for something dreadful to happen."
"No one ever called me nervous," replied Beatrice, with a smile, controlling herself with an effort; "mamma's chief complaint against me was that I had no nerves;" adding presently to herself: "This can not last. I would rather die at once that live in this agony."
The weary day came to a close, however, and it was well for Beatrice that Lord Airlie had not spent it with her. The gentlemen at Earlescourt had all gone to a bachelor's dinner, given by old Squire Newton of the Grange. It was late when they returned, and Lord Airlie did not notice anything unusual in Beatrice.