the same composed deference that might as well be defiance; the whole man the same dark, cold object, at the same distance, which nothing has ever diminished.
Is this true concerning the poor girl?
He slightly inclines and advances his head, as not quite understanding the question.
You know what you related. Is it true? Do her friends know my story also? Is it the town-talk yet? Is it chalked upon the walls and cried in the streets?
So! Anger, and fear, and shame. All three contending. What power this woman has, to keep these raging passions down! Mr Tulkinghorns thoughts take such form as he looks at her, with his ragged grey eyebrows a hairs-breadth more contracted than usual, under her gaze.
No, Lady Dedlock. That was a hypothetical case, arising out of Sir Leicesters unconsciously carrying the matter with so high a hand. But it would be a real case if they knew what we know.
Then they do not know it yet?
Can I save the poor girl from injury before they know it?
Really, Lady Dedlock, Mr Tulkinghorn replies, I cannot give a satisfactory opinion on that point.
And he thinks, with the interest of attentive curiosity, as he watches the struggle in her breast, The power and force of this woman are astonishing!
Sir, she says, for the moment obliged to set her lips with all the energy she has, that she may speak distinctly, I will make it plainer. I do not dispute your hypothetical case. I anticipated it, and felt its truth as strongly as you can do, when I saw Mr Rouncewell here. I knew very well that if he could have had the power of seeing me as I was, he would consider the poor girl tarnished by having for a moment been, although most innocently, the subject of my great and distinguished patronage. But, I have an interest in her; or I should rather say no longer belonging to this place I had; and if you can find so much consideration for the woman under your foot as to remember that, she will be very sensible of your mercy.
Mr Tulkinghorn, profoundly attentive, throws this off with a shrug of self-depreciation, and contracts his eyebrows a little more.
You have prepared me for my exposure, and I thank you for that too. Is there anything that you require of me? Is there any claim that I can release, or any charge or trouble that I can spare my husband in obtaining his release, by certifying to the exactness of your discovery? I will write anything, here and now, that you will dictate. I am ready to do it.
And she would do it, thinks the lawyer, watchful of the firm hand with which she takes the pen!
I will not trouble you, Lady Dedlock. Pray spare yourself.
I have long expected this, as you know. I neither wish to spare myself, nor to be spared. You can do nothing worse to me than you have done. Do what remains, now.
Lady Dedlock, there is nothing to be done. I will take leave to say a few words, when you have finished.
Their need for watching one another should be over now, but they do it all this time, and the stars watch them both through the opened window. Away in the moonlight lie the woodland fields at rest, and the
|Copyright: All texts on Bibliomania are © Bibliomania.com Ltd, and may not be reproduced in any form without our written permission. See our FAQ for more details.|