“Crossjay!” she cried, hugging her love of the boy.
“The secret was one not to be communicated to Miss Dale of all people.”
“He said that?”
“As good as the very words. She informed me, too, that she couldn’t induce him to face her straight.”
“Oh, that looks like it. And Crossjay was unhappy? Very unhappy?”
“He was just where tears are on the brim, and would have been over, if he were not such a manly youngster.”
“It looks. . .” She reverted in thought to Willoughby, and doubted, and blindly stretched hands to her recollection of the strange old monster she had discovered in him. Such a man could do anything.
That conclusion fortified her to pursue her walk to the house and give battle for freedom. Willoughby appeared to her scarce human, unreadable, save by the key that she could supply. She determined to put faith in Colonel De Craye’s marvellous divination of circumstances in the dark. Marvels are solid weapons when we are attacked by real prodigies of nature. Her countenance cleared. She conversed with De Craye of the polite and the political world, throwing off her personal burden completely, and charming him.
At the edge of the garden, on the bridge that crossed the haha from the park, he had a second impulse, almost a warning within, to seize his heavenly opportunity to ask for thanks and move her tender lowered eyelids to hint at his reward. He repressed it, doubtful of the wisdom.
Something like “heaven forgive me” was in Clara’s mind, though she would have declared herself innocent before the scrutator.
In which sir Willoughby is led to think that the elements have conspired against him
Clara had not taken many steps in the garden before she learned how great was her debt of gratitude to Colonel De Craye. Willoughby and her father were awaiting her. De Craye, with his ready comprehension of circumstances, turned aside unseen among the shrubs. She advanced slowly.
“The vapours, we may trust, have dispersed?” her father hailed her.
“One word, and these discussions are over, we dislike them equally,” said Willoughby.
“No scenes,” Dr. Middleton added. “Speak your decision, my girl, pro forma, seeing that he who has the right demands it, and pray release me.”
Clara looked at Willoughby.
“I have decided to go to Miss Dale for her advice.”
There was no appearance in him of a man that has been shot.
“To Miss Dale?—for advice?”
Dr Middleton invoked the Furies. “What is the signification of this new freak?”
“Miss Dale must be consulted, papa.”
“Consulted with reference to the disposal of your hand in marriage?”