18. CHAPTER XVIII
Some one opened the door at the other end of the room, and Nancy
felt that it was her husband. She turned from the window with
gladness in her eyes, for the wife's chief dread was stilled.
"Dear, I'm so thankful you're come," she said, going towards him.
"I began to get --"
She paused abruptly, for Godfrey was laying down his hat with
trembling hands, and turned towards her with a pale face and a
strange unanswering glance, as if he saw her indeed, but saw her as
part of a scene invisible to herself. She laid her hand on his arm,
not daring to speak again; but he left the touch unnoticed, and
threw himself into his chair.
Jane was already at the door with the hissing urn. "Tell her to
keep away, will you?" said Godfrey; and when the door was closed
again he exerted himself to speak more distinctly.
"Sit down, Nancy--there," he said, pointing to a chair opposite
him. "I came back as soon as I could, to hinder anybody's telling
you but me. I've had a great shock--but I care most about the
shock it'll be to you."
"It isn't father and Priscilla?" said Nancy, with quivering lips,
clasping her hands together tightly on her lap.
"No, it's nobody living," said Godfrey, unequal to the considerate
skill with which he would have wished to make his revelation.
"It's Dunstan--my brother Dunstan, that we lost sight of sixteen
years ago. We've found him--found his body--his skeleton."
The deep dread Godfrey's look had created in Nancy made her feel
these words a relief. She sat in comparative calmness to hear what
else he had to tell. He went on:
"The Stone-pit has gone dry suddenly--from the draining, I
suppose; and there he lies--has lain for sixteen years, wedged
between two great stones. There's his watch and seals, and there's
my gold-handled hunting-whip, with my name on: he took it away,
without my knowing, the day he went hunting on Wildfire, the last
time he was seen."