But it was on Lillian's face that Lady Helena gazed most earnestly. The pallor of sickness had given way to a rosy and exquisite bloom. The fair, sweet face in its calm loveliness seemed to her perfect, the violet eyes were full of light. Looking at her, Lady Helena believed there were years of life in store for Ronald's only child.
There was much to talk about. Lord Earle told his mother how Hubert Airlie had gone home to Lynnton, unable to endure the sight of Earlescourt. He had never regained his spirits. In the long years to come it was possible, added Ronald, that Lord Airlie might marry, for the sake of his name; but if ever the heart of living man lay buried in a woman's grave, his was with the loved, lost Beatrice.
Lionel Dacre knew he had done wisely and well to have the bed of the lake filled up. In the morning he saw how each member of the family shrank from going out into the grounds. He asked Lord Earle to accompany him, and then the master of Earlescourt saw that the deep, cruel water no longer shimmered amid the trees.
Lionel let him bring his wife and daughter to see what had been done; and they turned to the author of it with grateful eyes, thanking him for the kind thought which had spared their feelings. Green trees flourished now on the spot where the water had glistened in the sun; birds sang in their branches, green grass and ferns grew round their roots.
Yet among the superstitious, strange stories were told. They said that the wind, when it rustled among those trees, wailed with a cry like that of one drowning, that the leaves shivered and trembled as they did on no other branches; that the stirring of them resembled deep-drawn sighs. They said flowers would never grow in the thick grass, and that the antlered deer shunned the spot.
As much as possible the interior arrangements of Earlescourt had been altered. Lillian had rooms prepared for her in the other wing; those that had belonged to her hapless sister were left undisturbed. Lady Dora kept the key; it was known when she had been visiting them; the dark eyes bore traces of weeping.
Beatrice had not been forgotten and never would be. Her name was on Lillian's lips a hundred times each day. They had been twin sisters, and it always seemed to her that part of herself lay in the church yard at the foot of the hill.
Gaspar Laurence had gone abroad--he could not endure the sight or name of home. Lady Laurence hoped that time would heal a wound that nothing else could touch. When, after some years, he did return, it was seen that his sorrow would last for life. He never married--he never cared for the name of any woman save that of Beatrice Earle.