“He told me. That’s to say, I was in the library—was reading there, some time ago; and Roger came and spoke to Osborne about his wife. Roger did not see me, but Osborne did. They made me promise secrecy. I don’t think I did wrong.”

“Don’t worry yourself about right or wrong just now; tell me more about it, at once.”

“I knew no more till six months ago—last November, when you went up to Lady Cumnor. Then he called, and gave me his wife’s address, but still under promise of secrecy; and, except those two times, and once when Roger just alluded to it, I have never heard any one mention the subject. I think he would have told me more that last time, only Miss Phœbe came in.”

“Where is this wife of his?”

“Down in the south; near Winchester, I think. He said she was a Frenchwoman and a Roman Catholic; and I think he said she was a servant,” added Molly.

“Phew!” Her father made a long whistle of dismay.

“And,” continued Molly, “he spoke of a child. Now you know as much as I do, papa, except the address. I have it written down safe at home.”

Forgetting, apparently, what time of night it was, Mr. Gibson sate down, stretched out his legs before him, put his hands in his pockets, and began to think. Molly sate still without speaking, too tired to do more than wait.

“Well!” said he at last, jumping up, “nothing can be done to-night; by to-morrow morning, perhaps, I may find out. Poor little pale face!”—taking it between both his hands and kissing it; “poor, sweet, little pale face!” Then he rang the bell, and told Robinson to send some maid-servant to take Miss Gibson to her room.

“He won’t be up early,” said he, in parting. “The shock has lowered him too much to be energetic. Send breakfast up to him in his own room. I’ll be here again before ten.”

Late as it was before he left, he kept his word.

“Now, Molly,” he said, “you and I must tell him the truth between us. I don’t know how he will take it; it may comfort him, but I’ve very little hope: either way, he ought to know it at once.”

“Robinson says he has gone into the room again, and he is afraid he has locked the door on the inside.”

“Never mind. I shall ring the bell, and send up Robinson to say that I am here, and wish to speak to him.”

The message returned was, “The Squire’s kind love, and he could not see Mr. Gibson just then.” Robinson added, “It was a long time before he’d answer at all, sir.”

“Go up again, and tell him I can wait his convenience. Now, that’s a lie,” Mr. Gibson said, turning round to Molly, as soon as Robinson had left the room. “I ought to be far enough away at twelve; but, if I’m not much mistaken, the innate habits of a gentleman will make him uneasy at the idea of keeping me waiting his pleasure, and will do more to bring him out of that room into this than any entreaties or reasoning.” Mr. Gibson was growing impatient, though, before they heard the Squire’s footstep on the stairs; he was evidently coming slowly and unwillingly. He came in almost like one blind, groping along, and taking hold of chair or table for support or guidance, till he reached Mr. Gibson. He did not speak when he held the doctor by the hand; he only hung down his head, and kept on a feeble shaking of welcome.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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