"It is a great trouble to us, but we are quite unable to prevent it -- unless you indeed can control him."
"I cannot control him," said Ayala, with that fixed look of resolution with which Lady Albury had already become familiar.
That evening before they went to bed the Colonel bade them all goodbye, as he intended to start early in the morning. "I never saw such a fellow as you are for sudden changes," said Sir Harry. "What is the good of staying here for hunting when the ground and Tony's temper are both as hard as brick-bats? If I go now I can get another week further on in March if the rain should come." With this Sir Harry seemed to be satisfied; but Ayala felt sure that Tony's temper and the rain had had nothing to do with it.
"Goodbye, Miss Dormer," he said, with his pleasantest smile, and his pleasantest voice.
"Goodbye," she repeated. What would she not have given that her voice should be as pleasant as his, and her smile! But she failed so utterly that the little word was inaudible -- almost obliterated by the choking of a sob. How bitterly severe had that word, Miss Dormer, sounded from his mouth! Could he not have called her Ayala for the last time -- even though all the world should have heard it? She was wide awake in the morning and heard the wheels of his cart as he was driven off. As the sound died away upon her ear she felt that he was gone from her for ever. How had it been that she had said, "I cannot," so often, when all her heart was set upon "I can?"
And now it remained to her to take herself away from Stalham as fast as she might. She understood perfectly all those ideas which Lady Albury had expressed to her well-loved friend. She was nothing to anybody at Stalham, simply a young lady staying in the house -- as might be some young lady connected with them by blood, or some young lady whose father and mother had been their friends. She had been brought there to Stalham, now this second time, in order that Jonathan Stubbs might take her as his wife. Driven by some madness she had refused her destiny, and now nobody would want her at Stalham any longer. She had better begin to pack up at once -- and go. The coldness of the people, now that she had refused to do as she had been asked, would be unbearable to her. And yet she must not let it appear that Stalham was no longer dear to her merely because Colonel Stubbs had left it. She would let a day go by, and then say with all the ease she could muster that she would take her departure on the next. After that her life before her would be a blank. She had known up to this -- so at least she told herself -- that Jonathan Stubbs would afford her at any rate another chance. Now there could be no other chance.
The first blank day passed away, and it seemed to her almost as though she had no right to speak to anyone. She was sure that Lady Rufford knew what had occurred, because nothing more was said as to the proposed visit. Mrs Colonel Stubbs would have been welcome anywhere, but who was Ayala Dormer? Even though Lady Albury bade her come out in the carriage, it seemed to her to be done as a final effort of kindness. Of course they would be anxious to be rid of her. That evening the buxom woman did not come to help her dress herself. It was an accident. The buxom woman was wanted here and there till it was too late, and Ayala had left her room. Ayala, in truth, required no assistance in dressing. When the first agonizing moment of the new frock had been passed over, she would sooner have arrayed herself without assistance. But now it seemed as though the buxom woman was running away because she, Ayala, was thought to be no longer worthy of her services.
On the next morning she began her little speech to Lady Albury. "Going away tomorrow?" said Lady Albury.