A lonely night.
Henry was lost, mentally, and emotionally.
He was at last, where he had aimed for; at the home of the woman he loved, and who had become lost to him, but she was not here. Impatience, ate at him, pushing him to be doing something, anything to take his mind off this lonely desperation, but he could do nothing but wait in this dreadful weather. He felt helpless.
He moped, like a lovesick youth, pining after a damsel he had just briefly met, wondering if he would ever see her again. He could not settle, wanting to be out there to find where she was; and once finding her, to rush up to her, enfold her into his embrace, to kiss her repeatedly as the rain ran down their faces. Then he would raise his face to the sky and to call out in exultation at having found her, his one true love, his bride; the woman carrying his child, never to lose her again.
Hetty saw him looking out of the drawing room window, looking to the horizon--obscured by rain-- where he had learned she would appear when she rode home. She could guess what he was feeling. She could see, and feel for herself, his seething, yet controlled impatience-- like a dog constantly straining at the leash-- and his barely concealed discomfort, his hands held behind his back, or pacing from one window to the other.
When she asked him anything, trying to gauge his emotional state, he turned and smiled sadly at her, replying always patiently to her enquiry, but he did not move from his vigil unless she took his arm and gently encouraged him into the scullery to take tea and to snack on something with her; some ham, or some cold beef, or bread and cheese to go with a tankard of beer, as he continued to look out of the window into the pouring rain, shrouding the distant rolling hillside in an obscuring curtain through which ‘she’ must soon appear.
No one questioned his presence. They all knew why he was here; for Miss Anna, and that he would not be leaving. He had every right to be here, considering.... But they did not too openly speak of that.
They wondered about it, they marvelled at it; this power of love that held him there, hour after hour.
He would run out to greet her in the rain the moment he saw her, to throw himself at her feet and beg that she rescue him from this corrosive emptiness that had filled him for the last month of searching for her.
The hours passed, but the rain did not let up.
Hetty prepared a plate of food for him and sat with him in the scullery as he ate, just as she had before, worried for him, seeing how this enforced separation, now that he was so close, ate at him. She was able to study him in the long silences as he stared out of the window, mesmerized by the rain. What perverse fate had thrown this between them at just such a crucial time as this?
No one else existed in the entire house. Others, came and went, sat down and ate, before rushing back out to do those chores that kept them out of the weather. Life still went on. Animals still needed milking, tending to, to be fed.
He apologized. “I am sorry for my very poor company, Miss Langford, Hetty, but I think you know how it is.”
“I do indeed, sir. There is nothing more painful than to be in love and be denied that love for even a moment. I understand all too well. It is what Miss Anna experienced for the last month too, not knowing you or where you were, even though she was convinced you must be looking for her, as she cudgeled her brain as to how she could find you."
Hetty watched the light beginning to fail, so she lit candles and other lamps, to prolong her own work. Kitchen work was just as continuous and necessary as all of the other things that had to be done.
“The evenings are drawing in too, and the rain has not let up. She is certainly staying somewhere safe out of this, and so is master David I would say, and Samson too. And Tornado. They may all be sheltering together at one of the farms. She will be back tomorrow before you know it.”
“I hope and pray you are right, Hetty. I have never been so close to being mad, as I am now, at this very moment, worrying for her.”
“You should try and rest. Tomorrow will come soon enough. She’ll not be out in this tonight, but will be somewhere safe and warm.”
Henry had to accept that for himself.
He would retire and sleep, but at least he would be in her bed, even without her warmth, or close intimacy to keep him company. He had become addicted to her in the brief time they had been together, and now he could not imagine a life without her in it.
He bade Hetty, goodnight’ and carried a candle, and David’s satchel to bed with him, to Miss Anna’s room. He still was trying to come to grips with that different identity for her.
Hetty watched him go. He was not the only one worrying. She had seen Molly, looking wistfully at that same vista that Henry had been observing.
She was missing David, no doubt as much as he was missing her. She would commiserate with her and tell her what she told Henry, that he would be home in the morning as soon as the rain had let up. If it ever did.
Henry would continue to draw in that book that David had brought with him (it was too much to expect that David had not examined it. He had to have done, or he might have left it behind to shock their mother and sister, so he could not fault him for that. He would look back over those earlier drawings, except doing that would not help his mood of frustration.
He tried to sleep, knowing that it would elude him for most, if not all of the night, especially sensing her presence throughout the room, everywhere he looked.
The house was almost unwelcoming and empty without her.
He brought her nightdress from the cover, and lay with his head buried in that, to close out other sensations and sounds, especially the sound of rain hammering against the window.