“I’ve come about that little wretch,” Miss Milray began, after kissing Clementina. “I didn’t know but you had heard something I hadn’t, or I had heard something you hadn’t. You know I belong to the Hinkle persuasion: I think Belsky’s run his board—as Mr. Hinkle calls it.”
Clementina explained how this part of the Hinkle theory had failed, and then Miss Milray devolved upon the belief that he had run his tailor’s bill or his shoemaker’s. “They are delightful, those Russians, but they’re born insolvent. I don’t believe he’s drowned himself. How,” she broke off to ask, in a burlesque whisper, “is-the-old-tabby?” She laughed, for answer to her own question, and then with another sudden diversion she demanded of a look in Clementina’s face which would not be laughed away, “Well, my dear, what is it?”
“Miss Milray,” said the girl, “should you think me very silly, if I told you something—silly?”
“Not in the least!” cried Miss Milray, joyously. “It’s the final proof of your wisdom that I’ve been waiting for?”
“It’s because Mr. Belsky is all mixed up in it,” said Clementina, as if some excuse were necessary, and then she told the story of her love affair with Gregory. Miss Milray punctuated the several facts with vivid nods, but at the end she did not ask her anything, and the girl somehow felt the freer to add: “I believe I will tell you his name. It is Mr. Gregory—Frank Gregory—”
“And he’s been in Egypt?”
“Yes, the whole winta.”
“Then he’s the one that my sister-in-law has been writing me about!”
“Oh, did he meet her the’a?”
“I should think so! And he’ll meet her there, very soon. She’s coming, with my poor brother. I meant to tell you, but this ridiculous Belsky business drove it out of my head.”
“And do you think,” Clementina entreated, “that he was to blame?”
“Why, I don’t believe he’s done it, you know.”
“Oh, I didn’t mean Mr. Belsky. I meant—Mr. Gregory. For telling Mr. Belsky?”
“Certainly not. Men always tell those things to some one, I suppose. Nobody was to blame but Belsky, for his meddling.”
Miss Milray rose and shook out her plumes for flight, as if she were rather eager for flight, but at the little sigh with which Clementina said, “Yes, that is what I thought,” she faltered.
“I was going to run away, for I shouldn’t like to mix myself up in your affair—it’s certainly a very strange one—unless I was sure I could help you. But if you think I can—”
Clementina shook her head. “I don’t believe you can,” she said, with a candor so wistful that Miss Milray stopped quite short. “How does Mr. Gregory take this Belsky business?” she asked.
“I guess he feels it moa than I do,” said the girl.
“He shows his feeling more?”
“Yes—no—He believes he drove him to it.”
Miss Milray took her hand, for parting, but did not kiss her. “I won’t advise you, my dear. In fact, you haven’t asked me to. You’ll know what to do, if you haven’t done it already; girls usually have, when they want advice. Was there something you were going to say?”