day she put her breakfast of eggs and meat aside, as usual; but
even I could not eat it. I dressed her without looking at her. I
knew every part of her. She wore the old gown still, that was stained
with mud, and I wore the handsome silk one. She would not let me
change out of it, even for travelling, though I knew it would crease.
I thought of wearing it back in the Borough. I could not believe
that I would be at home again, with Mrs Sucksby, before it was dark.
packed her bags. I did it slowly, hardly feeling the things I touched.
Into one bag went her linen, her slippers, her sleeping-drops, a
bonnet, a brush—that was for her to take to the madhouse. Into
the other went everything else. That was for me. Only that white
glove I think I have mentioned, did I keep to one side; and when
the bags were filled I put it, neatly, inside the bodice of my gown,
over my heart.
The coach came, and we were ready. Mrs Cream saw us to the door.
Maud wore a veil. I helped her down the tilting staircase, and
she gripped my arm. When we stepped out of the cottage she gripped
it tighter. She had kept to her room for more than a week. She flinched
from the sight of the sky and the black church, and seemed to feel
the soft air hard upon her cheek, even through her veil, like a
hand that slapped her.
I put my fingers over hers.
'God bless you, ma'am!' cried Mrs Cream, when Gentleman had paid
her. She stood and watched us. The boy who had taken our horse,
that first night, now appeared again, to see us leaving; and one
or two other boys also came to stare, and to stand at the side of
the coach, pickingat the doors, where an old gold crest had been
painted out black. The driver flicked his whip at them. He fastened
our bags upon the roof, then let the steps down. Gentleman handed
Maud in, drawing her fingers from mine. He caught my eye.
now,' he said, in a warning sort of way. 'No time for sentiment.'
She sat and leaned her head back, and he sat beside her. I sat opposite.
There were no handles to the doors, only a key, like the key to
a safe: when the driver closed them Gentleman made them fast, then
put the key in his pocket.
'How long will we travel?' asked Maud.
He said, 'An hour.'
It seemed longer than an hour. It seemed like a life. The day was
a warm one. Where the sun struck the glass it made the carriage
very hot, but the windows had been fixed not to open—I suppose,
so a lunatic should not have the chance to leap out. At last Gentleman
pulled a cord to make the blinds close, and we sat jolting in the
heat and the darkness, not speaking. In time I began to grow sick.
I saw Maud's head rolling against the padding of the seat, but could
not see if her eyes were open or closed. She kept her hands before
fidgeted, however, loosening his collar, looking at his watch, plucking
at his cuffs. Two or three times he took out his handkerchief and
wiped off his brow. Every time the coach slowed, he leaned close
to the window to peer through the louvres. Then it slowed so hard
it came almost to a stop, and began to turn: he looked again, sat
straight and tightened his neck-tie.
are almost there,' he said.
Maud turned her head to him. The coach slowed again. I pulled the
cord that moved the blinds. We were at the start of a green lane,
with a stone arch across it and, beneath that, iron gates. A man
was drawing them back. The coach gave a jerk, and we drove along
the lane until we reached the house at the end. It was just like
at Briar, though this house was smaller, and neater. Its windows
had bars on them. I watched Maud, to see what she would do. She
had put back her veil and was gazing from the window in her old
dull way; but behind the dullness I thought I saw a rising kind
of knowledge or dread.
'Don't be afraid,' said Gentleman.
That was all he said. I don't know if he said it to her, or to me.
The coach made another turn, and stopped. Dr Graves and Dr Christie
were there, waiting for us, with beside them a great stout woman,
her sleeves pushed up to her elbows and her gown covered over with
an apron of canvas, like a butcher's. Dr Christie came forward.
He had a key like Gentleman's, and let up the lock from his side.
Maud flinched at the sound. Gentleman put his hand upon her. Dr
Christie made a bow.