Connie arrived home to an ordeal of cross-questioning. Clifford had been out at tea-time, had come in just before the storm, and where was her ladyship? Nobody knew, only Mrs Bolton suggested she had gone for a walk into the wood. Into the wood, in such a storm! Clifford for once let himself get into a state of nervous frenzy. He started at every flash of lightning, and blenched at every roll of thunder. He looked at the icy thunder-rain as if it dare the end of the world. He got more and more worked up.
Mrs Bolton tried to soothe him.
`She'll be sheltering in the hut, till it's over. Don't worry, her Ladyship is all right.'
`I don't like her being in the wood in a storm like this! I don't like her being in the wood at all! She's been gone now more than two hours. When did she go out?'
`A little while before you came in.'
`I didn't see her in the park. God knows where she is and what has happened to her.'
`Oh, nothing's happened to her. You'll see, she'll be home directly after the rain stops. It's just the rain that's keeping her.'
But her ladyship did not come home directly the rain stopped. In fact time went by, the sun came out for his last yellow glimpse, and there still was no sign of her. The sun was set, it was growing dark, and the first dinner-gong had rung.
`It's no good!' said Clifford in a frenzy. `I'm going to send out Field and Betts to find her.'
`Oh don't do that!' cried Mrs Bolton. `They'll think there's a suicide or something. Oh don't start a lot of talk going. Let me slip over to the hut and see if she's not there. I'll find her all right.'
So, after some persuasion, Clifford allowed her to go.
And so Connie had come upon her in the drive, alone and palely loitering.
`You mustn't mind me coming to look for you, my Lady! But Sir Clifford worked himself up into such a state. He made sure you were struck by lightning, or killed by a falling tree. And he was determined to send Field and Betts to the wood to find the body. So I thought I'd better come, rather than set all the servants agog.
She spoke nervously. She could still see on Connie's face the smoothness and the half-dream of passion, and she could feel the irritation against herself.
`Quite!' said Connie. And she could say no more.
The two women plodded on through the wet world, in silence, while great drops splashed like explosions in the wood. Ben they came to the park, Connie strode ahead, and Mrs Bolton panted a little. She was getting plumper.
`How foolish of Clifford to make a fuss!' said Connie at length, angrily, really speaking to herself.
`Oh, you know what men are! They like working themselves up. But he'll be all right as soon as he sees your Ladyship.'
Connie was very angry that Mrs Bolton knew her secret: for certainly she knew it.
Suddenly Constance stood still on the path.
`It's monstrous that I should have to be followed!' she said, her eyes flashing.
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