`No; I want the exercise of a run to the top of the house.--Come Arthur.'
`But you will return?'
`Not yet; don't wait.'
`Then, when may I see you again?'
`At lunch,' said I, departing with little Helen in one arm, and leading Arthur by the hand.
He turned away, muttering some sentence of impatient censure or complaint, in which `heartless' was the only distinguishable word.
`What nonsense is this Mr. Hargrave?' said I, pausing in the doorway. `What do you mean?'
`Oh, nothing--I did not intend you should hear my soliloquy. But the fact is, Mrs. Huntingdon, I have a disclosure to make--painful for me to offer as for you to hear--and I want you to give me a few minutes of your attention in private, at any time and place you like to appoint. It is from no selfish motive that I ask it, and not for any cause that could alarm your super-human purity; therefore, you need not kill me with that look of cold and pitiless disdain. I know too well the feelings with which the bearers of bad tidings are commonly regarded, not to--'
`What is this wonderful piece of intelligence?' said I, impatiently interrupting him. `If it is anything of real importance, speak it in three words before I go.'
`In three words I cannot. Send those children away, and stay with me.
`No; keep your bad tidings to yourself. I know it is some thing I don't want to hear, and something you would displease me by telling.'
`You have divined too truly I fear; but still since I know it, I feel it my duty to disclose it to you.'
`Oh, spare us both the infliction--and I will exonerate you from the duty. You have offered to tell; I have refused to hear: my ignorance will not be charged on you.'
`Be it so--you shall not hear it from me. But if the blow fall too suddenly upon you when it comes, remember-- I wished to soften it!'
I left him. I was determined his words should not alarm me. What could he of all men, have to reveal that was of importance for me to hear? It was no doubt some exaggerated tale about my unfortunate husband, that he wished to make the most of to serve his own bad purposes.
6th. He has not alluded to this momentous mystery since; and I have seen no reason to repent of my unwillingness to hear it. The threatened blow has not been struck yet; and I do not greatly fear it. At present I am pleased with Arthur: he has not positively disgraced himself for upwards of a fortnight, and all this last week, has been so very moderate in his indulgence at table, that I can perceive a marked difference in his general temper and appearance. Dare I hope this will continue?
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