‘Not nearly ready?’

‘I have not construed a line.’

Mr. Moore looked up: the boy’s tone was rather peculiar.

‘The task presents no difficulties, Henry; or, if it does, bring them to me: we will work together.’

‘Mr. Moore, I can do no work.’

‘My boy, you are ill.’

‘Sir, I am not worse in bodily health than usual, but my heart is full.’

‘Shut the book. Come hither, Harry. Come to the fireside.’

Harry limped forward; his tutor placed him in a chair: his lips were quivering, his eyes brimming. He laid his crutch on the floor, bent down his head and wept.

‘This distress is not occasioned by physical pain, you say, Harry? You have a grief—tell it me.’

‘Sir, I have such a grief as I never had before. I wish it could be relieved in some way: I can hardly bear it.’

‘Who knows but, if we talk it over, we may relieve it? What is the cause? Whom does it concern?’

‘The cause, sir, is Shirley; it concerns Shirley.’

‘Does it? You think her changed?’

‘All who know her think her changed: you, too, Mr. Moore.’

‘Not seriously—no. I see no alteration but such as a favourable turn might repair in a few weeks: besides, her own word must go for something; she says she is well.’

‘There it is, sir: as long as she maintained she was well, I believed her. When I was sad out of her sight, I soon recovered spirits in her presence. Now—’

‘Well, Harry, now—! Has she said anything to you? You and she were together in the garden two hours this morning; I saw her talking and you listening. Now, my dear Harry, if Miss Keeldar has said she is ill, and enjoined you to keep her secret, do not obey her. For her life’s sake, avow everything. Speak, my boy!’

She say she is ill! I believe, sir, if she were dying, she would smile, and aver “Nothing ails me.”’

‘What have you learned, then? What new circumstance—?’

‘I have learned that she has just made her will.’

‘Made her will?’

The tutor and pupil were silent.

‘She told you that?’ asked Moore, when some minutes had elapsed.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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