died away from them while I looked at it, told me at what sacrifice of herself her outward composure was maintained. My heart could take her no closer to me, or I should have loved her then as I had never loved her yet.
Mr. Gilmore was a great assistance to us. He was in high good-humour, and he led the conversation with unflagging spirit. Miss Halcombe seconded him resolutely, and I did all I could to follow her example. The kind blue eyes, whose slightest changes of expression I had learnt to interpret so well, looked at me appealingly when we first sat down to table. Help my sister—the sweet anxious face seemed to say—help my sister, and you will help me.
We got through the dinner, to all outward appearance at least, happily enough. When the ladies had risen from table, and Mr. Gilmore and I were left alone in the dining-room, a new interest presented itself to occupy our attention, and to give me an opportunity of quieting myself by a few minutes of needful and welcome silence. The servant who had been despatched to trace Anne Catherick and Mrs. Clements returned with his report, and was shown into the dining-room immediately.
"Well," said Mr. Gilmore, "what have you found out?"
"I have found out, sir," answered the man, "that both the women took tickets at our station here for Carlisle."
"You went to Carlisle, of course, when you heard that?"
"I did, sir, but I am sorry to say I could find no further trace of them."
"You inquired at the railway?"
"And at the different inns?"
"And you left the statement I wrote for you, at the police station?"
"I did, sir."
"Well, my friend, you have done all you could, and I have done all I could, and there the matter must rest till further notice. We have played our trump cards, Mr. Hartright," continued the old gentleman when the servant had withdrawn. "For the present, at least, the women have outmanoeuvred us; and our only resource now is to wait till Sir Percival Glyde comes here on Monday next. Won't you fill your glass again? Good bottle of port, that—sound, substantial, old wine. I have got better in my own cellar, though."