“Oh, no. Nothing. Do you think,” she hesitated, appealingly, “do you think we are-engaged?”
“If he’s anything of a man at all, he must think he is.”
“Yes,” said Clementina, wistfully, “I guess he does.”
Miss Milray looked sharply at her. “And does he think you are?”
“I don’t know—he didn’t say.”
“Well,” said Miss Milray, rather dryly, “then it’s something for you to think over pretty carefully.”
Hinkle came back in the afternoon to make a hopeful report of his failure to learn anything more of Belsky, but Gregory did not come with him. He came the next morning long before Clementina expected visitors, and he was walking nervously up and down the room when she appeared. As if he could not speak, he held toward her without speaking a telegram in English, dated that day in Rome:
“Deny report of my death. Have written.
She looked up at Gregory from the paper, when she had read it, with joyful eyes. “Oh, I am so glad for you! I am so glad he is alive.”
He took the dispatch from her hand. “I brought it to you as soon as it came.”
“Yes, yes! Of cou’se!”
“I must go now and do what he says—I don’t know how yet.” He stopped, and then went on from a different impulse. “Clementina, it isn’t a question now of that wretch’s life and death, and I wish I need never speak of him again. But what he told you was true.” He looked steadfastly at her, and she realized how handsome he was, and how well dressed. His thick red hair seemed to have grown darker above his forehead; his moustache was heavier, and it curved in at the corners of his mouth; he bore himself with a sort of self-disdain that enhanced his splendor. “I have never changed toward you; I don’t say it to make favor with you; I don’t expect to do that now; but it is true. That night, there at Middlemount, I tried to take back what I said, because I believed that I ought.”
“Oh, yes, I knew that,” said Clementina, in the pause he made.
“We were both too young; I had no prospect in life; I saw, the instant after I had spoken, that I had no right to let you promise anything. I tried to forget you; I couldn’t. I tried to make you forget me.” He faltered, and she did not speak, but her head drooped a little. “I won’t ask how far I succeeded. I always hoped that the time would come when I could speak to you again. When I heard from Fane that you were at Woodlake, I wished to come out and see you, but I hadn’t the courage, I hadn’t the right. I’ve had to come to you without either, now. Did he speak to you about me?”
“I thought he was beginning to, once; but he neva did.”
“It didn’t matter; it could only have made bad worse. It can’t help me to say that somehow I was wishing and trying to do what was right; but I was.”