“I told you that I was afraid of Wingrave,” she reminded him. “I can take care of myself as a rule—and I do—as you know. I have elected to be one of the unfashionables in that respect. But to ask Wingrave for money is more than I dare do.”
“Then I shall ask him myself,” Barrington declared.
She picked up her gloves and turned to leave the room.
“I should prefer even that,” she said.
“Up to the present, then,” Wingrave remarked, “the child has no idea as to who has been responsible for the charge of her?”
“No idea at all, Sir Wingrave,” the lawyer declared. “Your wishes have been strictly carried out, most strictly. She imagines that it is some unknown connection of her father. But, as I explained to you in my letter, she has recently exhibited a good deal of curiosity in the matter. She is—er—a young lady of considerable force of character for her years, and her present attitude—as I explained in my letter—is a trifle difficult.”
Wingrave was sitting in the lawyer’s own chair. Mr. Pengarth, who was a trifle nervous, preferred to stand.
“She shows, I think, a certain amount of ingratitude in forcing this journey and explanation upon me,” Wingrave declared coldly. “It should have been sufficient for her that her benefactor preferred to remain anonymous.”
“I regret, Sir Wingrave, that I must disagree with you,” Mr. Pengarth answered boldly. “Miss Juliet, Miss Lundy I should say, is a young lady of character—and—er—some originality of disposition. She is a great favorite with everyone around here.”
Wingrave remained silent. He had the air of one not troubling to reply to what he considered folly. Through the wide open window floated in the various sounds of the little country town, the rumbling of heavy carts passing along the cobbled streets, the shrill greetings of neighbors and acquaintances meeting upon the sidewalk. And then the tinkling bell of a rubber-tired cart pulling up outside, and a clear girlish voice speaking to some one of the passers-by.
Wingrave betrayed as much surprise as it was possible for him to show when at last she stood with outstretched hand before him. He had only an imperfect recollection of an ill-clad, untidy-looking child, with pale tear-stained cheeks, and dark unhappy eyes. The march of the years had been a thing whose effects he had altogether underestimated. The girl who stood now facing him was slight, and there was something of the child left in her bright eager face, but she carried herself with all the graceful assurance of an older woman. Her soft, dark eyes were lit with pleasure and excitement, her delicately traced eyebrows and delightful smile were somehow suggestive of her foreign descent. Her clothes were country-made, but perfect as regarded fit and trimness, her beflowered hat was worn with a touch of coquettish grace, a trifle un-English, but very delightful. She had not an atom of shyness or embarrassment. Only there was a great surprise in her face as she held out her hands to Wingrave.