“We ah’ trying to think so,” sighed the girl.
“Tell me about it!” Miss Milray pulled her down on the sofa with her, and modified her embrace to a clasp of Clementina’s bands.
“Why, there isn’t much to tell,” she began, but she told what there was, and Miss Milray kept her countenance concerning the scruple that had parted Clementina and her lover. “Perhaps he wouldn’t have thought of it,” she said, in a final self-reproach, if I hadn’t put it into his head.”
“Well, then, I’m not sorry you put it into his head,” cried Miss Milray. “Clementina, may I say what I think of Mr. Gregory’s performance?”
“Why, certainly, Miss Milray!”
I think he’s not merely a gloomy little bigot, but a very hard-hearted little wretch, and I’m glad you’re rid of him. No, stop! Let me go on! You said I might! she persisted, at a protest which imparted itself from Clementina’s restive hands. “It was selfish and cruel of him to let you believe that he had forgotten you. It doesn’t make it right now, when an accident has forced him to tell you that he cared for you all along.”
“Why, do you look at it that way, Miss Milray? If he was doing it on my account?”
“He may think he was doing it on your account, but I think he was doing it on his own. In such a thing as that, a man is bound by his mistakes, if he has made any. He can’t go back of them by simply ignoring them. It didn’t make it the same for you when he decided for your sake that he would act as if he had never spoken to you.”
“I presume he thought that it would come right, sometime,” Clementina urged. “I did.”
“Yes, that was very well for you, but it wasn’t at all well for him. He behaved cruelly; there’s no other word for it.”
“I don’t believe he meant to be cruel, Miss Milray,” said Clementina.
“You’re not sorry you’ve broken with him?” demanded Miss Milray, severely, and she let go of Clementina’s hands.
“I shouldn’t want him to think I hadn’t been fai’a.”
“I don’t understand what you mean by not being fair,” said Miss Milray, after a study of the girl’s eyes.
“I mean,” Clementina explained, “that if I let him think the religion was all the’e was, it wouldn’t have been fai’a.”
Why, weren’t you sincere about that?”
“Of cou’se I was!” returned the girl, almost indignantly. “But if the’e was anything else, I ought to have told him that, too; and I couldn’t.”
“Then you can’t tell me, of course?” Miss Milray rose in a little pique.
“Perhaps some day I will,” the girl entreated. “And perhaps that was all.”
Miss Milray laughed. “Well, if that was enough to end it, I’m satisfied, and I’ll let you keep your mystery—if it is one—till we meet in Venice; I shall be there early in June. Good bye, dear, and say good bye to Mrs. Lander for me.”