`She doesn't know you are ill.'

`So much the better for both of us.'

`Where are her lover and she living?'

`At Melchester - I suppose; at least he was living there some time ago.'

When Gillingham reached home he sat and reflected, and at last wrote an anonymous line to Sue, on the bare chance of its reaching her, the letter being enclosed in an envelope addressed to Jude at the diocesan capital. Arriving at that place it was forwarded to Marygreen in North Wessex, and thence to Aldbrickham by the only person who knew his present address - the widow who had nursed his aunt.

Three days later, in the evening, when the sun was going down in splendour over the lowlands of Blackmoor, and making the Shaston windows like tongues of fire to the eyes of the rustics in that vale, the sick man fancied that he heard somebody come to the house, and a few minutes after there was a tap at the bedroom door. Phillotson did not speak; the door was hesitatingly opened, and there entered - Sue.

She was in light spring clothing, and her advent seemed ghostly - like the flitting in of a moth. He turned his eyes upon her, and flushed; but appeared to check his primary impulse to speak.

`I have no business here,' she said, bending her frightened face to him. `But I heard you were ill - very ill; and - and as I know that you recognize other feelings between man and woman than physical love, I have come.'

`I am not very ill, my dear friend. Only unwell.'

`I didn't know that; and I am afraid that only a severe illness would have justified my coming!'

`Yes ... yes. And I almost wish you had not come! It is a little too soon - that's all I mean. Still, let us make the best of it. You haven't heard about the school, I suppose?'

`No - what about it?'

`Only that I am going away from here to another place. The managers and I don't agree, and we are going to part - that's all.'

Sue did not for a moment, either now or later, suspect what troubles had resulted to him from letting her go; it never once seemed to cross her mind, and she had received no news whatever from Shaston. They talked on slight and ephemeral subjects, and when his tea was brought up he told the amazed little servant that a cup was to be set for Sue. That young person was much more interested in their history than they supposed, and as she descended the stairs she lifted her eyes and hands in grotesque amazement. While they sipped Sue went to the window and thoughtfully said, `It is such a beautiful sunset, Richard.'

`They are mostly beautiful from here, owing to the rays crossing the mist of the vale. But I lose them all, as they don't shine into this gloomy corner where I lie.'

`Wouldn't you like to see this particular one? It is like heaven opened.'

`Ah yes! But I can't.'

`I'll help you to.'

`No - the bedstead can't be shifted.'

  By PanEris using Melati.

Previous chapter/page Back Home Email this Search Discuss Bookmark Next chapter/page
Copyright: All texts on Bibliomania are © Bibliomania.com Ltd, and may not be reproduced in any form without our written permission. See our FAQ for more details.