As the hour approached on which Althea had promised to meet Marchmont, she became so apprehensive and uneasy, that she could not for a moment remain in the same place, but traversed the inhabited rooms with such visible inquietude, that, had not Mrs. Wansford been at that time busied more than usual, she must have observed it. At any other period some contrivance would have been necessary to shake off the attendance of the children, who were accustomed to follow her when she went for her evening walks in the garden or gallery; but now the impression of fear was so recent on their minds, that, instead of importuning her for permission to accompany her, they kept close to their mother, and Althea, with a beating heart, walked slowly and unobserved towards the great door of the old hall, which was, she believed, the only entrance to the deserted buildings. On reaching it, however, she stopped; recollecting, at that moment, that she neither knew how to open the door, nor probably had strength to do it. She hesitated; but not long, for footsteps were heard within, and the door was opened by Marchmont.