There was only one other servant in the little household—[Pg 28]a bouncing, rosy-cheeked Cornish girl, who was very industrious under Tabitha’s eye, and very idle when she was out of that faithful housekeeper’s ken. Tabitha cooked and took care of everything, and for the most part waited upon her mistress in this time of widowhood, although Susan was supposed to be parlour-maid.长沙桑拿会所全套
Tabitha poured out the tea, and buttered a roll, while Isola leant back in the bamboo chair and played with the Shah.
“I never knew him do such a thing before,” said Tabitha, in continuation of a theme which had been fully discussed last night.
“Oh, it was very kind and polite; but it was not such a tremendous thing, after all,” answered Isola, still occupied with the Persian. “He could hardly stand by and see one drowned. You have no idea what the rain was like.”
“But to send you home in his own carriage.”
“There was nothing else for him to do—except send me home in the gardener’s cart. He could not have turned out a dog in such weather.”
“It’s a thing that never happened before, and it just shows what a respect he must have for the Disneys. You don’t know how stand-offish he is with all the people about here—how he 长沙桑拿休闲娱乐会所keeps himself to himself. Not a bit like his father and mother. They used to entertain all the neighbourhood, and they went everywhere, as affable as you like. He has taken care to show people that he doesn’t want their company. They say he has led a very queer kind of life at
home and abroad; never settling down anywhere, here to-day and gone to-morrow; roving about with his yacht. I don’t believe any good ever comes of a young gentleman like that having a yacht. It would be ever so much better for him to live at the Mount and keep a pack of harriers.”
“Why should a yacht be bad?” asked Isola, lazily beginning her breakfast, Tabitha standing by the table all the time, ready for conversation.
“Oh, I don’t know. It gives a young man too much[Pg 29] liberty,” answered Tabitha, shaking her head with a meaning air, as if with a knowledge of dark things in connection with yachts. “He can keep just what company he likes on board—gentlemen or ladies. He can gamble—or drink—as much as he likes. There’s nobody to check him. Sundays and weekdays, night and day, are all alike to him.”
“Lord Lostwithiel is not
particularly young,” said Isola, musingly, not paying much attention to this homily on yachts. “He must be thirty, I think.”
“Thirty-two last birthday. He ought to marry and settle down. They say he’s very clever, and that he’s bound to make a figure in politics some of these odd days.”
Isola looked at the clock on the chimney-piece—a gilt horse-shoe with onyx nails; one of her wedding presents. It was early yet—only half-past nine. Lord Lostwithiel had talked about calling to inquire after her health. She felt overpowered with shyness at the thought of seeing him again, alone—with no stately Mrs. Mayne to take the edge off a tête-à-tête. Anything to escape such an ordeal! There was her boat—that boat of which she was perfect mistress, and in which she went for long, dawdling expeditions towards Fowey or Lostwithiel with only
Tim for her companion—Tim, who was the best of company, in almost perpetual circulation between stem and stern, balancing himself in perilous places every now and then, to bark furiously at imaginary foes in slowly passing fishermen’s boats.
“Have you any fancy about lunch, ma’am?” asked Tabitha, lingering with feather-brush in hand over a side-table, on which work-basket, books, writing-case, and flower-vases were arranged with tasteful neatness by those skilful hands.
“No, you dear old Tabbie; you know that anything will do for me. Bread and jam, if you like, and some of your clotted cream. Won’t it be nice when we have our very own dairy, and our very own cows, who will know us and be fond of us, like Tim and the Shah?”
She put on her hat and jacket, and went out into the[Pg 30] garden again, singing “La Lettre de Perichole” as she went. It was a capital idea to take refuge in her boat. If his lordship should call—which was doubtful—since he might be one of that numerous race of people whose days are made up of unfulfilled intentions and promises never realized—if he should call, she would be far away when he came. He would make his inquiry, leave his card, which would look nice in the old Indian bowl on the hall-table. Such cards have a power of flotation unknown to other pasteboard; they are always at the top.
Isola went to the little boat-house on the edge of the lawn, Tim following her. She pushed the light skiff down the slope into the water, and in a few minutes more her sculls were in the rowlocks and she was moving slowly up the river, between autumnal woods, in a silence broken only by the dip of the sculls and the little rippling sound as the water dropped away from them. A good deal of her life was spent like this, moving slowly up the river through that deep silence of the woodland shores. The river was as beautiful as the Dart almost, but lonelier and more silent. It was Martin Disney’s river—the river whose ripples had soothed his mother’s dying ears—the last of all earthly sounds that had been heard in the stillness of the death-chamber.
In that tranquil atmosphere Isola used to dream of her absent husband and of that mystical world of the East which seemed made up of dreams—the world of Brahma and Buddha, of jewel-bedecked Rajahs and Palace-tombs—world of beauty and of terror; of tropical forests, tigers, orchids, serpents, elephants, Thugs.
She dreamt her dream of that strange world in fear and trembling, conjuring up scenes of horror—tiger hunts; 长沙桑拿洗浴全套会所 snakes hidden in the corner of a tent; battle; fever; fire; mutiny. Her morbid imagination pictured all possible and impossible danger for the man she loved. And then she thought of his home-coming—for good, for good—for all the span of their joint lives; and she longed for that return with the sickness of hope deferred.
She would go back to the Angler’s Nest sometimes after one of these dreamy days upon the river, and would pace about the house or the garden, planning things for her husband’s return, as if he were due next day. She would wheel his own particular chair to the drawing-room fireplace, and look at it, and arrange the fall of the curtains before the old-fashioned bow-window, and change the position of the lamp, and alter the books on the shelves, and do this and that with an eye to effect, anxious to discover how the room might be made prettiest, cosiest, most lovable and home-like—for him, for him, for him!