‘And who told you that, pray?’ asked Lady Knollys, with a pleasant little laugh.
‘Milly and I discovered it, simple as we stand here,’ I answered.
‘But you did not flirt with Mr. Carysbroke, Maud, did you?’ she asked.
’No, certainly not; but that was not your doing, wicked woman, but my discretion. And now that we know your secret, you must tell us all about her, and all about him; and in the first place, what is her name—Lady Mary what?’ I demanded.
’Who would have thought you so cunning? Two country misses—two little nuns from the cloisters of Bartram! Well, I suppose I must answer. It is vain trying to hide anything from you; but how on earth did you find it out?’
‘We’ll tell you that presently, but you shall first tell us who she is,’ I persisted.
’Well, that I will, of course, without compulsion. She is Lady Mary Carysbroke,’ said Lady Knollys.
‘A relation of Mr. Carysbroke’s,’ I asserted.
‘Yes, a relation; but who told you he was Mr. Carysbroke?’ asked Cousin Monica.
‘Milly told me, when we saw him in the Windmill Wood.’
‘And who told you, Milly?’
‘It was L’Amour,’ answered Milly, with her blue eyes very wide open.
‘What does the child mean? L’Amour!
You don’t mean love?’ exclaimed
Knollys, puzzled in her turn.
‘I mean old Wyat; she told me and the Governor.’
‘You’re not to say that,’ I interposed.
‘You mean your father?’ suggested Lady Knollys.
‘Well, yes; father told her, and so I knew him.’
‘What could he mean?’ exclaimed Lady Knollys, laughing, as it were, in soliloquy; ’and I did not mention his name, I recollect now. He recognised you, and you him, when you came into the room yesterday; and now you must tell me how you discovered that he and Lady Mary were to be married.’
So Milly restated her evidence, and Lady Knollys laughed unaccountably heartily; and she said—
’They will be so confounded! but they deserve it; and, remember, I did not say so.’
‘Oh! we acquit you.’
’All I say is, such a deceitful, dangerous pair of girls—all things considered—I never heard of before,’ exclaimed Lady Knollys. ’There’s no such thing as conspiring in your presence.’
‘Good morning. I hope you slept well.’ She was addressing the lady and gentleman who were just entering the room from the conservatory. ’You’ll hardly sleep so well to-night, when you have learned what eyes are upon you. Here are two very pretty detectives who have found out your secret, and entirely by your imprudence and their own cleverness have discovered that you are a pair of betrothed lovers, about to ratify your vows at the hymeneal altar. I assure you I did not tell of you; you betrayed yourselves. If you will talk in that confidential way on sofas, and call one another stealthily by your Christian names, and actually kiss at the foot of the stairs, while a clever detective is scaling them, apparently with her back toward you, you must only take the consequences, and be known prematurely as the hero and heroine of the forthcoming paragraph in the “Morning Post."’