’Is he? I don’t know. He never speaks to me about it. I hate that play, and I hate to see him go up to that study! I cannot understand why he should trouble himself about writing plays; he doesn’t want the money, and it can’t be agreeable sitting up there all alone thinking.... It is easy to see that it only makes him unhappy. But you encourage him to go on with it. Oh yes, you do; there’s no use saying you don’t. You are always talking to him about it; you bring the conversation up. You think I don’t see how you do it, but I do; and you like doing it, because then you have him all to yourself. I can’t talk to him about that play; and I wouldn’t if I could, for it only makes him unhappy. But you don’t care whether he’s unhappy or not; you only think of yourself.’
’You surely don’t believe what you are saying is true? To-morrow you will be sorry for what you have said. You cannot think that I would deceive you, Emily? Remember what friends we have been.’
’I remember everything. You think I don’t; but I do. And you think also that there’s no reason why I should be miserable; but there is. Because you do not feel my misery, you think it doesn’t exist. I daresay you think, too, that you are very good and kind; but you aren’t. You think you deceive me; but you don’t. I know all that is passing between you and Hubert. I know a great deal more than I can explain....’
‘But tell me, Emily, what is it you suspect? What do you accuse me of?’
’I accuse you of nothing. Can’t you understand that things may go wrong without it being any one’s fault in particular?’
Julia wondered how Emily could think so wisely. She seemed to have grown wiser in her grief. But grief helped her no further in her instinctive perception of the truth, and she resumed her puerile attack on her friend.
’Nothing has gone well with me ever since you came here. I was disinherited; and I daresay you were glad, for you knew that if the money did not come to me it would go to Hubert, and I do know——’
’What are you saying, Emily? I never heard of such wild accusations before! You know very well that I never set eyes on Mr. Price until he came down here.’
’How should I know what you know or don’t know? But I know that all my life every one has been plotting against me. And I cannot make out why. I never did harm to any one.’
The conversation paused. Emily flung herself back on the pillow. Not even a sob. The candle burned like a long yellow star in the shadows, yielding only sufficient light for Julia to see the outlines of a somewhat untidy room,—an old-fashioned mahogany wardrobe, cloudy and black, upon old-fashioned grey paper, some cardboard boxes, and a number of china ornaments, set out on a small table covered with a tablecloth in crewel-work.
’I would do anything in the world for you, Emily. I am your best friend, and yet——’