seem the right thing, and on Sunday I was terribly near it. Yet that won’t do. It’s you who must go. You must take Flora.”

My visitor, at this, did speculate. “But where in the world—?”

“Away from here. Away from them. Away, even most of all, now, from me. Straight to her uncle.”

“Only to tell on you—?”

“No, not ‘only’! To leave me, in addition, with my remedy.”

She was still vague. “And what is your remedy?”

“Your loyalty, to begin with. And then Miles’s.”

She looked at me hard. “Do you think he—?”

“Won’t, if he has the chance, turn on me? Yes, I venture still to think it. At all events, I want to try. Get off with his sister as soon as possible and leave me with him alone.” I was amazed, myself, at the spirit I had still in reserve, and therefore perhaps a trifle the more disconcerted at the way in which, in spite of this fine example of it, she hesitated. “There’s one thing, of course,” I went on: “they mustn’t, before she goes, see each other for three seconds.” Then it came over me that, in spite of Flora’s presumable sequestration from the instant of her return from the pool, it might already be too late. “Do you mean,” I anxiously asked, “that they have met?”

At this she quite flushed. “Ah, miss, I’m not such a fool as that! If I’ve been obliged to leave her three or four times, it has been each time with one of the maids, and at present, though she’s alone, she’s locked in safe. And yet—and yet!” There were too many things.

“And yet what?”

“Well, are you so sure of the little gentleman?”

“I’m not sure of anything but you. But I have, since last evening, a new hope. I think he wants to give me an opening. I do believe that—poor little exquisite wretch!—he wants to speak. Last evening, in the firelight and the silence, he sat with me for two hours as if it were just coming.”

Mrs. Grose looked hard, through the window, at the gray, gathering day. “And did it come?”

“No, though I waited and waited, I confess it didn’t, and it was without a breach of the silence or so much as a faint allusion to his sister’s condition and absence that we at last kissed for good night. All the same,” I continued, “I can’t, if her uncle sees her, consent to his seeing her brother without my having given the boy—and most of all because things have got so bad—a little more time.”

My friend appeared on this ground more reluctant than I could quite understand. “What do you mean by more time?”

“Well, a day or two—really to bring it out. He’ll then be on my side—of which you see the importance. If nothing comes, I shall only fail, and you will, at the worst, have helped me by doing, on your arrival in town, whatever you may have found possible.” So I put it before her, but she continued for a little so inscrutably embarrassed that I came again to her aid. “Unless, indeed,” I wound up, “you really want not to go.”

I could see it, in her face, at last clear itself; she put out her hand to me as a pledge. “I’ll go—I’ll go. I’ll go this morning.”

  By PanEris using Melati.

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