“Oh!” she grieved. “I never ca’ed at all for you after I saw him.”
“I know it must be shocking to you; I haven’t told you with any wretched hope that it would commend me to you!”
“I don’t say it was so very bad,” said Clementina, reflectively, “if it was something you couldn’t help.”
“It was something I couldn’t help. Perhaps I didn’t try .”
“Did-she know it?”
“She knew it from the first; I told her before we were married.”
Clementina drew back a little, insensibly pulling her child with her. “I don’t believe I exactly like it.”
“I knew you wouldn’t! If I could have thought you would, I hope I shouldn’t have wished—and feared—so much to tell you.”
“Oh, I know you always wanted to do what you believed was right, Mr. Gregory,” she answered. “But I haven’t quite thought it out yet. You mustn’t hurry me.”
“No, no! Heaven forbid.” He stood aside to let her pass.
“I was just going home,” she added.
“May I go with you?”
“Yes, if you want to. I don’t know but you betta; we might as well; I want to talk with you. Don’t you think it’s something we ought to talk about-sensibly?”
“Why, of course! And I shall try to be guided by you; I should always submit to be ruled by you, if—”
“That’s not what I mean, exactly. I don’t want to do the ruling. You don’t undastand me.”
“I’m afraid I don’t,” he assented, humbly.
“If you did, you wouldn’t say that—so.” He did not venture to make any answer, and they walked on without speaking, till she asked, “Did you know that Miss Milray was at the Middlemount?”
“Miss Milray! Of Florence?”
“With her brother. I didn’t see him; Mrs. Milray is not he’a; they ah’ divo’ced. Miss Milray used to be very nice to me in Florence. She isn’t going back there any moa. She says you can’t go back to anything. Do you think we can?”
She had left moments between her incoherent sentences where he might interrupt her if he would, but he waited for her question. “I hoped we might; but perhaps—”
“No, no. We couldn’t. We couldn’t go back to that night when you threw the slippas into the riva, no’ to that time in Florence when we gave up, no’ to that day in Venice when I had to tell you that I ca’ed moa fo’ some one else. Don’t you see?”
“Yes, I see,” he said, in quick revulsion from the hope he had expressed. “The past is full of the pain and shame of my errors!”
“I don’t want to go back to what’s past, eitha,” she reasoned, without gainsaying him.
She stopped again, as if that were all, and he asked, “Then is that my answer?”
“I don’t believe that even in the otha wo’ld we shall want to go back to the past, much, do you?” she pursued, thoughtfully.
Once Gregory would have answered confidently; he even now checked an impulse to do so. “I don’t know,” he owned, meekly.