Dont itI dont say that it does, mind I want to knowdont it rather engross him? Dont it make him, perhaps, a little more remiss than usual in his visits to his blindly-dotingeh? With another quick glance at them, and such a glance at me as seemed to look into my innermost thoughts.
Miss Dartle, I returned, pray do not think
I dont! she said. Oh, dear me, dont suppose that I think anything! I am not suspicious. I only ask a question. I dont state any opinion. I want to found an opinion on what you tell me. Then, its not so? Well! I am very glad to know it.
It certainly is not the fact, said I, perplexed, that I am accountable for Steerforths having been away from home longer than usualif he has been: which I really dont know at this moment, unless I understand it from you. I have not seen him this long while, until last night.
Indeed, Miss Dartle, no!
As she looked full at me, I saw her face grow sharper and paler, and the marks of the old wound lengthen out until it cut through the disfigured lip, and deep into the nether lip, and slanted down the face. There was something positively awful to me in this, and in the brightness of her eyes, as she said, looking fixedly at me
What is he doing?
I repeated the words, more to myself than her, being so amazed.
What is he doing? she said, with an eagerness that seemed enough to consume her like a fire. In what is that man assisting him, who never looks at me without an inscrutable falsehood in his eyes? If you are honourable and faithful, I dont ask you to betray your friend. I ask you only to tell me, is it anger, is it hatred, is it pride, is it restlessness, is it some wild fancy, is it love, what is it, that is leading him?
Miss Dartle, I returned, how shall I tell you, so that you will believe me, that I know of nothing in Steerforth different from what there was when I first came here? I can think of nothing. I firmly believe there is nothing. I hardly understand, even, what you mean.
As she still looked fixedly at me, a twitching or throbbing, from which I could not dissociate the idea of pain, came into that cruel mark; and lifted up the corner of her lip as if with scorn, or with a pity that despised its object. She put her hand upon it hurriedlya hand so thin and delicate, that when I had seen her hold it up before the fire to shade her face, I had compared it in my thoughts to fine porcelainand saying, in a quick, fierce, passionate way, I swear you to secrecy about this! said not a word more.
Mrs. Steerforth was particularly happy in her sons society, and Steerforth was, on this occasion, particularly attentive and respectful to her. It was very interesting to me to see them together, not only on account of their mutual affection, but because of the strong personal resemblance between them, and the manner in which what was haughty or impetuous in him was softened by age and sex, in her, to a gracious dignity. I thought, more than once, that it was well no serious cause of division had ever come between them; or two such naturesI ought rather to express it, two such shades of the same naturemight have been harder to reconcile than the two extremest opposites in creation. The idea did not originate in my own discernment, I am bound to confess, but in a speech of Rosa Dartles.
She said at dinner
Oh, but do tell me, though, somebody, because I have been thinking about it all day, and I want to know.
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