WHILST the rain pelted, and it did so until afternoon, Rhoda sat in her little parlour, no whit less miserable than Barfoot imagined. She could not be sure whether Everard had gone to London; at the last moment, reflection or emotion might have detained him. Early in the morning she had sent to post a letter for Miss Barfoot, written last night; a letter which made no revelation of her feelings, but merely expressed a cold curiosity to hear anything that might become known as to the course of Mr Widdowson's domestic troubles. 'You may still write to this address; if I leave, letters shall be forwarded.'
When the sky cleared, she went out. In the evening she again rambled about the shore. Evidently Barfoot had gone; if still here, he would have watched and joined her.
Her solitude now grew insufferable, yet she could not decide whither to betake herself. The temptation to return to London was very strong, but pride prevailed against it. Everard might perhaps go to see his cousin, and relate all that had happened at Seascale, justifying himself as he had here done. Whether Miss Barfoot became aware of the story or not, Rhoda could not reconcile it with her selfrespect to curtail the stipulated three weeks of holiday. Rather she would strain her nerves to the last point of endurance,--and if she were not suffering, then never did woman suffer.
Another cheerless day helped her to make up her mind. She cared nothing now for lake and mountain; human companionship was her supreme need. By the earliest train next day she started, not for London, but for her brother's home in Somerset, and there she remained until it was time to return to work. Miss Barfoot wrote twice in the interval, saying that she had heard nothing more of Monica. Of Everard she made no mention.
Rhoda got back again to Chelsea on the appointed Saturday afternoon. Miss Barfoot knew when she would arrive, but was not at home to meet her, and did not return till a couple of hours had passed. They met at length as if nothing remarkable had occurred during the three weeks. Mary, if she felt any solicitude, effectually concealed it; Rhoda talked as if very glad to be at home again,