If Mr. Juxon was not in love with Mary Goddard he was at least rapidly approaching a very dangerous state; for he saw her every day and could not let one day go by without seeing her, and moreover he grew silent in her company, to a degree which embarrassed her and made him feel himself more stupid than he had ever dreamed possible; so that he would sometimes stay too long, in the hope of finding something to say, and sometimes he would leave her abruptly and go and shut himself up with his books, and busy himself with his catalogues and his bindings and the arrangement of his rare editions. One day at last, he felt that he had behaved so very absurdly that he was ashamed of himself, and suddenly disappeared for nearly a week. When he returned he said he had been to town to attend a great sale of books, which was perfectly true; he did not add that the learned expert he employed in London could have done the business for him just as well. But the trip had done him no good, for he grew more silent than ever, and Mrs. Goddard even thought his brown face looked a shade paler; but that might have been the effect of the winter weather. Ordinary sunburn she reflected, as she looked at her own white skin in the mirror, will generally wear off in six months, though freckles will not.
If Mr. Juxon was not in love, it would be very hard to say what Mary Goddard felt. It was not true that time was effacing the memory of the great sorrow she had suffered. It was there still, that memory, keen and sharp as ever; it would never go away again so long as she lived. But she had been soothed by the quiet life in Billingsfield; the evidences of the past had been removed far from her, she had found in the Reverend Augustin Ambrose one of those rare and manly natures who can keep a secret for ever without ever referring to its existence even with the person who has confided it. For a few days she had hesitated whether to ask the vicar’s advice about Mr. Juxon or not. She had thought it her duty to allow Mr. Ambrose to tell the squire whatever he thought fit of her own story. But she had changed her mind, and the squire had remained in ignorance. It was best so, she thought; for now, after more than six months, Mr. Juxon had taken the position of a friend towards her, and, as she thought, showed no disposition whatever to overstep the boundaries of friendship. The regularity of his visits and the sameness of the conversation seemed of themselves a guarantee of his simple goodwill. It did not strike her as possible that if he were going to fall in love with her at all, that catastrophe should be postponed beyond six months from their first acquaintance. Nor did it seem extraordinary to her that she should actually look forward to those visits, and take pleasure in that monotonous intercourse. Her life was very quiet; it was natural that she should take whatever diversion came in her way, and should even be thankful for it. Mr. Juxon was an honest gentleman, a scholar