His pleading looks entreated her even more than his words.
“There was something,” she answered, “with him.”
“And I mustn’t know what,” the young man said patiently.
“Yes—yes!” she returned eagerly. “Oh, yes! I want you to know—I want to tell you. I was only sixteen yea’s old, and he said that he oughtn’t to have spoken; we were both too young. But last winta he spoke again. He said that he had always felt bound”—She stopped, and he got infirmly to his feet. “I wanted to tell you from the fust, but—”
“How could you? You couldn’t. I haven’t anything more to say, if you are bound to him.”
“He is going to be a missionary and he wanted me to say that I would believe just as he did; and I couldn’t. But I thought that it would come right; and—yes, I felt bound to him, too. That is all—I can’t explain it!”
“Oh, I understand!” he returned, listlessly.
“And do you blame me for not telling before?” She made an involuntary movement toward him, a pathetic gesture which both entreated and compassionated.
“There’s nobody to blame. You have tried to do just right by me, as well as him. Well, I’ve got my answer. Mrs. Lander—can I—”
“Why, she isn’t up yet, Mr. Hinkle.” Clementina put all her pain for him into the expression of their regret.
“Then I’ll have to leave my good-bye for her with you. I don’t believe I can come back again.” He looked round as if he were dizzy. “Good-bye,” he said, and offered his hand. It was cold as clay.
When he was gone, Clementina went into Mrs: Lander’s room, and gave her his message.
“Couldn’t he have come back this aftanoon to see me, if he ain’t goin’ till five?” she demanded jealously.
“He said he couldn’t come back,” Clementina answered sadly.
The woman turned her head on her pillow and looked at the girl’s face. “Oh!” she said for all comment.
The Milrays came a month later, to seek a milder sun than they had left burning in Florence. The husband and wife had been sojourning there since their arrival from Egypt, but they had not been his sister’s guests, and she did not now pretend to be of their party, though the same train, even the same carriage, had brought her to Venice with them. They went to a hotel, and Miss Milray took lodgings where she always spent her Junes, before going to the Tyrol for the summer.
“You are wonderfully improved, every way,” Mrs. Milray said to Clementina when they met. “I knew you would be, if Miss Milray took you in hand; and I can see she has. What she doesn’t know about the world isn’t worth knowing! I hope she hasn’t made you too worldly? But if she has, she’s taught you how to keep from showing it; you’re just as innocent-looking as ever, and that’s the main thing; you oughtn’t to lose that. You wouldn’t dance a skirt