‘And something also you have of the same animal’s silent ways of going about its work. You give no warning; you come noiselessly behind, seize fast, and hold on.’

‘This is guesswork; you have witnessed no such feat on my part; in your presence I have been no bull- dog.’

‘Your very silence indicates your race. How little you talk in general, yet how deeply you scheme! You are far-seeing; you are calculating.’

‘I know the ways of these people. I have gathered information of their intentions. My note last night informed you that Barraclough’s trial had ended in his conviction and sentence to transportation; his associates will plot vengeance. I shall lay my plans so as to counteract, or, at least, be prepared for theirs; that is all. Having now given you as clear an explanation as I can, am I to understand that for what I propose doing I have your approbation?’

‘I shall stand by you so long as you remain on the defensive. Yes.’

‘Good! Without any aid—even opposed or disapproved by you—I believe I should have acted precisely as I now intend to act, but in another spirit. I now feel satisfied. On the whole, I relish the position.

‘I dare say you do; that is evident. You relish the work which lies before you still better than you would relish the execution of a Government order for army-cloth.’

‘I certainly feel it congenial.’

‘So would old Helstone. It is true there is a shade of difference in your motives—many shades, perhaps. Shall I speak to Mr. Helstone? I will, if you like.’

‘Act as you please; your judgment, Miss Keeldar, will guide you accurately. I could rely on it myself in a more difficult crisis; but I should inform you Mr. Helstone is somewhat prejudiced against me at present.’

‘I am aware; I have heard all about your differences. Depend upon it they will melt away; he cannot resist the temptation of an alliance under present circumstances.’

‘I should be glad to have him; he is of true metal.’

‘I think so also.’

‘An old blade, and rusted somewhat, but the edge and temper still excellent.’

‘Well, you shall have him, Mr. Moore—that is, if I can win him.’

‘Whom can you not win?’

‘Perhaps not the Reactor; but I will make the effort.’

‘Effort! He will yield for a word—a smile.’

‘By no means. It will cost me several cups of tea, some toast and cake, and an ample measure of remonstrances, expostulations, and persuasions. It grows rather chill.’

‘I perceive you shiver. Am I acting wrongly to detain you here? Yet it is so calm; I even feel it warm, and society such as yours is a pleasure to me so rare. If you were wrapped in a thicker shawl—’

‘I might stay longer, and forget how late it is, which would chagrin Mrs. Pryor. We keep early and regular hours at Fieldhead, Mr. Moore, and so, I am sure, does your sister at the cottage.’

  By PanEris using Melati.

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