She rang the bell. The maid appeared.
'My cloak and bonnet--instantly!'
The maid produced the cloak and bonnet from the bedroom.
'A cab at the door--before I can count ten!'
The maid vanished. Lady Montbarry surveyed herself in the glass, and wheeled round again, with her cat-like suddenness, to Mrs. Ferrari.
'I look more than half dead already, don't I?' she said with a grim outburst of irony. 'Give me your arm.'
She took Mrs. Ferrari's arm, and left the room. 'You have nothing to fear, so long as you obey,' she whispered, on the way downstairs. 'You leave me at Miss Lockwood's door, and never see me again.'
In the hall they were met by the landlady of the hotel. Lady Montbarry graciously presented her companion. 'My good friend Mrs. Ferrari; I am so glad to have seen her.' The landlady accompanied them to the door. The cab was waiting. 'Get in first, good Mrs. Ferrari,' said her ladyship; 'and tell the man where to go.'
They were driven away. Lady Montbarry's variable humour changed again. With a low groan of misery, she threw herself back in the cab. Lost in her own dark thoughts, as careless of the woman whom she had bent to her iron will as if no such person sat by her side, she preserved a sinister silence, until they reached the house where Miss Lockwood lodged. In an instant, she roused herself to action. She opened the door of the cab, and closed it again on Mrs. Ferrari, before the driver could get off his box.
'Take that lady a mile farther on her way home!' she said, as she paid the man his fare. The next moment she had knocked at the house-door. 'Is Miss Lockwood at home?' 'Yes, ma'am.' She stepped over the threshold--the door closed on her.
'Which way, ma'am?' asked the driver of the cab.
Mrs. Ferrari put her hand to her head, and tried to collect her thoughts. Could she leave her friend and benefactress helpless at Lady Montbarry's mercy? She was still vainly endeavouring to decide on the course that she ought to follow--when a gentleman, stopping at Miss Lockwood's door, happened to look towards the cab-window, and saw her.
'Are you going to call on Miss Agnes too?'he asked.
It was Henry Westwick. Mrs. Ferrari clasped her hands in gratitude as she recognised him.
'Go in, sir!' she cried. 'Go in, directly. That dreadful woman is with Miss Agnes. Go and protect her!'
'What woman?' Henry asked.
The answer literally struck him speechless. With amazement and indignation in his face, he looked at Mrs. Ferrari as she pronounced the hated name of 'Lady Montbarry.' 'I'll see to it,' was all he said. He knocked at the house-door; and he too, in his turn, was let in.