She must see a doctor. But she would not frighten her aunt, she would keep the matter close from her. What did you think, dear? I don't think I am quite well. But I will admit that you struck me as looking very pale last night. You shall certainly see Dr. When the medical man arrived, Betty intimated that she wished to speak with him alone, and he was shown with her into the morning-room.
Groves," she said nervously, "it is such a strange thing I have to say. I believe I walk in my sleep. My dress had been used on both occasions, and my shoes and fan and gloves as well. It would frighten her; and I do not wish her to suspect anything, except that I am a little out of sorts. She gets nervous about me. Groves mused for some while, then he said: "I cannot see that this is at all a case of somnambulism. Of course I do not always remember everything.
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I do not always recollect commissions given to me, unless I write them down. And I cannot say that I remember all the novels I have read, or what was the menu at dinner yesterday. What I refer to is spaces of blank in your memory. How often has this occurred? It is possible that the strain of coming out and the change of entering into gay life in town has been too much for you. Take care and economise your pleasures. Do not attempt too much; and if anything of the sort happens again, send for me.
I will say that you have been a little over-wrought and must be spared too much excitement. I put it on the boudoir table. A search was instituted, but the book could not be found. On the morrow it was in the boudoir, where Betty had placed it on her return from Mudie's. She did not much care for the book; perhaps that was due to her preoccupation, and not to any lack of stirring incident in the story.
She sent it back and took out another. Next morning that also had disappeared. It now became customary, as surely as she drew a novel from the library, that it vanished clean away.
Betty was greatly amazed. She could not read a novel she had brought home till a day or two later.
She took to putting the book, so soon as it was in the house, into one of her drawers, or into a cupboard. But the result was the same. Finally, when she had locked the newly acquired volume in her desk, and it had disappeared thence also, her patience gave way. There must be one of the domestics with a ravenous appetite for fiction, which drove her to carry off a book of the sort whenever it came into the house, and even to tamper with a lock to obtain it.
Betty had been most reluctant to speak of the matter to her aunt, but now she made to her a formal complaint.
The servants were all questioned, and strongly protested their innocence. Not one of them had ventured to do such a thing as that with which they were charged.
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However, from this time forward the annoyance ceased, and Betty and Lady Lacy naturally concluded that this was the result of the stir that had been made. I hear it very highly spoken of. Fontanel has a box and has asked if we will join her. She said to her maid: "Martha, will you dress me this evening—and—pray stay with me till my aunt is ready and calls for me? Betty thought well to explain: "I don't know what it is, but I feel somewhat out of spirits and nervous, and am afraid of being left alone, lest something should happen.
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I must go. I shall be all right so soon as I am in the carriage. It will pass off then. That evening Betty went to the theatre.
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There was no recurrence of the sleeping fit with its concomitants. Captain Fontanel was in the box, and made himself vastly agreeable. He had his seat by Betty, and talked to her not only between the acts, but also a good deal whilst the actors were on the stage. With this she could have dispensed. Between two of the acts he said to her: "My mother is engaging Lady Lacy.
She has a scheme in her head, but wants her consent to carry it out, to make it quite too charming. And I am deputed to get you to acquiesce. I have never seen a regatta—that is to say, not one so famous, and not of this kind. There were regattas at Ilfracombe, but they were different. I am sure my mother will persuade your aunt.
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What a lively old lady she is, and for her years how she does enjoy life! So it was settled. Lady Lacy had raised no objection, and now she and her niece had to consider what Betty should wear. Thin garments were out of the question; the weather was too cold, and it would be especially chilly on the river.
Betty was still in slight mourning, so she chose a silver-grey cloth costume, with a black band about her waist, and a white straw hat, with a ribbon to match her gown. On the day of the regatta Betty said to herself; "How ignorant I am! Fancy my not knowing where Henley is! That it is on the Thames or Isis I really do not know, but I fancy on the former—yes, I am almost positive it is on the Thames. I have seen pictures in the Graphic and Illustrated of the race last year, and I know the river was represented as broad, and the Isis can only be an insignificant stream. I will run into the schoolroom and find a map of the environs of London and post myself up in the geography.
One hates to look like a fool. Without a word to anyone, Betty found her way to the apartment given up to lessons when children were in the house. It lay at the back, down a passage. Since Lady Lacy had occupied the place, neither she nor Betty had been in it more than casually and rarely; and accordingly the servants had neglected to keep it clean.