This week of July was not one that was very different. There was bound to be different schedule, and of course, I was prepared for this. Rather very hungry was I for spontaneity, of any sort, and I was quite willing to scavenge for it in any way.
No; this past week was not lonelier, to be sure; I had never anyways truly engaged in any conversation with Edgar. But having him gone, Eliza was more and more restricting about me. I sought for a time, for example, to sit at the moor; dusk was my favorite time, when I might take my drawing-box and papers with me and sit amid those intense currents that came now and then, with fine mist to cool my cheeks. So when I made to gather my things and set out after having dealt with and managed the house, Eliza would meet me in the drawing-room and say, in her deep-rooted voice:
"Well! where are you off to now, Tabitha?"
"To the moor: I wish to stay there for a while more so I may draw. We have finished all the work, have we not?"
"Tabitha, the moors are chill. You mustn't take cold; can you not just stay here and draw?"
"I have always made to go to the moor, even on November nights, when it is far colder. Besides, I do not take cold so easily as you."
"That is the very thing. It ought to have been wiser for me to accompany you, when the way is so long; but as I might take cold, we must forfeit the trip to-night."
We dined, though, and I was determined to leave for the moor. July nights were pleasant, and anyhow, it was strange to see Eliza so persistent this week now. Irritating? Indeed! It was a character with which I ought to adapt, for with it I would deal for not only now but more than two years to come. So we dined in silence; this was usual, and awkwardness was never a conflict at the table anymore. No conflicts borne in mind, I ate more quickly than usual. Eliza was bound to notice it, and she did, but I averted my eyes when she tried to meet with mine. I dabbed at my mouth with the napkin and set my utensils down.
"I am tired to-day," said I. "I will manage with cleaning the cullenders now and then be off to bed." I supposed I was rather convincing in my tone, though I knew my maid was not one to be fooled so easily. She always kept to herself but knew my ways by heart, and could probably devise what I was to say before I knew it myself. But all she gave me was a nod, a curious peer at the kitchen, and she left without another word (I presumed, to take herself to the enormous volume in which her nose was frequently buried in the evenings). Having done so, I turned back into the kitchen. Ah! there were hardly any dishes to clean; I made haste to finish the chore, only one thing on my mind. The drying was done with quickly, and I left from this tiny work-space to something assuredly much grander.
Eliza was nowhere to be seen outside of the kitchen, so I might sneak away as I wanted without worry. The thought of reaching my little chamber bounded in my mind; there I hurried, scurried for the wooden drawer, withdrew all of my materials - I could still draw well, for there was a good amount of sunlight still (these summer days could not have been more extensive). As my chamber was so apart from the rest of this house, I ought to do it swiftly and silently so as to not draw attention to my plans. I could not have been more successful: ere long my heart lifted and I drew the lock, pulled the door, and as quietly as I was able, drew it shut.
This place I knew as Newkirk - my own surname. It was a small area of land, but it was all my own, to be sure; here it dotted the border of this region of land, and everything west of it were continuing moorlands as far as I could see. At the edge of Newkirk was this very house that was said to have stood for more than one hundred years, and I descended, ran, so fully-spirited, for this one place where solitude was cherished. The clouds were rather dense, and lower than I normally knew them to be.
A good mist obscured this start of the sunset: it was nine, and Eliza was sure to take herself to bed. Solitude was purely mine. I seated myself at the edge of a crag, took all my drawing materials and set intently to work. At the edge of this large sheet I drew a stone fence, one I knew to border Newkirk itself at the south. A good horizon was drawn; a crag I drew at the other end, and the clouds low as they were in this very place. This scene, though rather dark, was complacent. For a moment I set it aside; my rubber was rolling over, farther and farther, almost over the edge of the crag - and there! I caught it! A strong current came on, and my paper was blown away, well over the crag in exchange for the rubber, and it was quite out of sight. I sought for it feverishly; but there was absolutely naught I could see beneath this high hillside; all was completely obscured by a thick fog, and the skies were nearly blackened from these dense clouds.
Oh! there was a rain to come on, and a mighty, fierce one. Ah! a hearty rumble came at once, and I gathered what I had left of my drawing materials as hurriedly as I could; I had to be steady, for stronger gales blew. All was cradled in my arms, and then a thick downpour came upon me. Well! this mist was not a whit competent, and another current came in a mocking laugh, reminding me I hadn't a sense of direction. This I hardly recognized to be a moor; this was rather a stormy sea. My thick, oak-colored hair was deluged well in this sudden tempest and frequently beat against my cheeks. I ran wherever I could, and what - what! a hand! The gales reduced and it was clearer -
Eliza said no more, and soaked to the bone was she also; I felt a little surge of guilt, and her hand pulled me more fiercely than I knew her to. I obeyed and staggered in something of an awkward half-run and we were back into Newkirk. In the drawing-room itself she stripped my clothes away at once and dressed me into a lighter gown of thin cotton, and tarried away to her own chamber to redress herself. I spent the following hour wringing my hair of every drop of water I could, waiting with each twist for Eliza to emerge and anticipating the chastisement to follow. All was silence, however; might I venture to her chamber and examine the matter?
I did: her door was sealed. I pressed my ear to it, and a bout of exhausted, raspy sneezing carried forth. I waited for an end but none came, and I even heard great, audible swallows for air. I pulled open the door. The middle-aged, skinny-wristed woman was on her little bed, giving herself out, ruddier in the cheeks than I ever knew her in illness. How drenched her hair! She was well changed out of her soaked dress, so that, at the very least, was alright. I could not expect her to speak with me. Well, she could not if she had even tried.
A very bad cold was caught on from this storm; but naught affected me. What might I do? What might I do?
What had Edgar said? There was some man of Carson nearby, was there not? A dark grey house, he had said, and I could identify it well: bless Edgar! bless him! Where was my traveling-cloak? Ah! there! At the chair just beyond this room. I took it upon myself, and my damp hair well strung down was not of the least care. I knew not any doctor but help was required now.
There was great trouble in finding the door but steadiness was called for and it was there. There was a softer rain and this vicinity was doused in dusk-blue. I was to set out for Carson.