“About what Markey told me, sir. My old master wouldn’t have liked it, sir.”
Touched on the raw by this reminder that before the world he had been nothing to the loved one, that before the world the squire, who had been nothing to her, had been everything, Winton said icily:
“Indeed! You will be good enough to comply with my wish, all the same.”
The stout woman’s face grew very red. She burst out, breathless:
“Yes, sir; but I’ve seen what I’ve seen. I never said anything, but I’ve got eyes. If Miss Gyp’s to take your name, sir, then tongues’ll wag, and my dear, dead mistress—”
But at the look on his face she stopped, with her mouth open.
“You will be kind enough to keep your thoughts to yourself. If any word or deed of yours gives the slightest excuse for talk—you go. Understand me, you go, and you never see Gyp again! In the meantime you will do what I ask. Gyp is my adopted daughter.”
She had always been a little afraid of him, but she had never seen that look in his eyes or heard him speak in that voice. And she bent her full moon of a face and went, with her apron crumpled as apron had never been, and tears in her eyes. And Winton, at the window, watching the darkness gather, the leaves flying by on a sou’-westerly wind, drank to the dregs a cup of bitter triumph. He had never had the right to that dead, forever-loved mother of his child. He meant to have the child. If tongues must wag, let them! This was a defeat of all his previous precaution, a deep victory of natural instinct. And his eyes narrowed and stared into the darkness.
In spite of his victory over all human rivals in the heart of Gyp, Winton had a rival whose strength he fully realized perhaps for the first time now that she was gone, and he, before the fire, was brooding over her departure and the past. Not likely that one of his decisive type, whose life had so long been bound up with swords and horses, would grasp what music might mean to a little girl. Such ones, he knew, required to be taught scales, and “In a Cottage near a Wood” with other melodies.