“I ask you again, Hyacinth: who told you that Osborne Hamley’s life is in more danger than mine—or yours?”

“Oh, don’t speak in that frightening way! My life is not in danger, I’m sure; nor yours either, love, I hope.”

He gave an impatient movement, and knocked a wineglass off the table. For the moment she felt grateful for the diversion, and busied herself in picking up the fragments; “bits of glass were so dangerous,” she said. But she was startled by a voice of command, such as she had never yet heard from her husband.

“Never mind the glass! I ask you again, Hyacinth: who told you anything about Osborne Hamley’s state of health?”

“I am sure I wish no harm to him, and I daresay he is in very good health, as you say,” whispered she at last.

“Who told”——began he again, sterner than ever.

“Well, if you will know, and will make such a fuss about it,” said she, driven to extremity, “it was you yourself—you or Dr. Nicholls, I am sure I forget which.”

“I never spoke to you on the subject, and I don’t believe Nicholls did. You’d better tell me at once what you’re alluding to, for I’m resolved I’ll have it out before we leave this room.”

“I wish I’d never married again!” she said, now fairly crying, and looking round the room, as if in vain search for a mouse-hole in which to hide herself. Then, as if the sight of the door into the store-room gave her courage, she turned and faced him.

“You should not talk your medical secrets so loud then, if you don’t want people to hear them. I had to go into the store-room that day Dr. Nicholls was here; cook wanted a jar of preserve, and stopped me just as I was going out—I am sure it was for no pleasure of mine, for I was sadly afraid of stickying my gloves—it was all that you might have a comfortable dinner.”

She looked as if she was going to cry again; but he gravely motioned her to go on, merely saying—

“Well! you overheard our conversation, I suppose?”

“Not much,” she answered eagerly, almost relieved by being thus helped out in her forced confession. “Only a sentence or two.”

“What were they?” he asked.

“Why, you had just been saying something, and Dr. Nicholls said, ‘If he has got aneurism of the aorta, his days are numbered.’ ”

“Well. Anything more?”

“Yes; you said, ‘I hope to God I may be mistaken; but there is a pretty clear indication of symptoms, in my opinion.’ ”

“How do you know we were speaking of Osborne Hamley?” he asked; perhaps in hopes of throwing her off the scent. But as soon as she perceived that he was descending to her level of subterfuge, she took courage, and said, in quite a different tone to the cowed one which she had been using—

“Oh! I know. I heard his name mentioned by you both, before I began to listen.”

“Then you own you did listen?”

  By PanEris using Melati.

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