She might have had a passage home in a dozen different steamers returning empty, all of them in search of fresh freights of men or material; or there was Lord Lydstone's yacht still lying in the Golden Horn and ready to take her anywhere if only she said the word.
"That's why you never married, I suppose?" Hyde did not answer his question, but got up and left his comrade abruptly, to re-enter the guard-room. The Arcadia, Lord Lydstone's yacht, was a fine three-masted schooner of a couple of hundred tons.
Wilders thought she had sufficient influence with Captain Trejago to persuade him, not only to postpone his departure, but to take a trip to the Crimea. In this she was perfectly successful, and the day after Lord Lydstone's funeral the Arcadia, with a fine breeze aft, steered northward across the Black Sea. It reached Balaclava on the morning of the 5th of November, and Mrs.
Wilders regained the privacy of her own room at Misseri's, which was not till late in the day, she took out the letter she had laid hands on in the cabin of the yacht, and read it through slowly and carefully. It was from Lord Lydstone's father, dated at Essendine Towers, the principal family-seat.
How do I find everything and everybody out? That's my affair my business, I may say." "And what do you want?" went on Mrs. Wilders, in the same key. "First of all, to condole with you on the loss of so many near relatives. I missed you at Constantinople after Lord Lydstone's sad and dreadful death." Mrs. Wilders shuddered in spite of herself. "You suffer remorse?" he said, mockingly.
"This letter, I mean, is from Mrs. Wilders; she has just arrived." "Here, in the Crimea, sir?" "Yes, she has come up in Lord Lydstone's yacht, and I want you to be so good as to go to her and break the news." He pointed sadly down the bed towards his shattered limb. "Of course, sir, as soon as I can order out a fresh horse I will go to Balaclava.
While still doubtful as to the best means of reaching the theatre of war, it occurred to her that she could not do better than make use of Lord Lydstone's yacht. It would have to go home eventually to be paid off and disposed of by Lord Lydstone's heirs. But there was surely no immediate hurry for this, and Mrs.
"I suppose that is what's brought our Mr. Wilders here to-day to meet his cousin." "And his brother; for they are on board Lord Lydstone's yacht." "They! How many of them?" "General Wilders has his wife with him, I believe, accompanying him to the East." "Old idiot! Why couldn't he leave her at home? Women are in the way at these times. Soldiers have no business with wives."
Loftus proceeded in a business-like manner to place the seals of the Embassy upon the desk, drawers, and other receptacles in Lord Lydstone's cabin. While they were thus employed, Mrs. Wilders sat at the cabin-table under the skylight, her head resting on one hand, and in an attitude that indicated the prostration of great sorrow.
She has been very kind, you know," she went on to Colonel Wilders, who had taken Lydstone's seat by her side. "But for her I should have starved." "Dear me! how sad," said the colonel. "Was it so bad as that? How did it happen. Was M. Cyprienne unlucky?" She did not answer; and the colonel, wondering, looked up, to find her fine eyes filled with tears. "How stupid of me! What an idiot I am!