‘And take the money?’ added Cynthia, lifting her head, and looking eagerly into Molly’s face. ’He must take the money. Oh, Molly, you can never manage it all without its coming out to your father! And I would far rather go out to Russia as a governess. I almost think I would rather—no, not that,’ said she, shuddering away from what she was going to say. ’But he must not know—please, Molly, he must not know. I could not bear it. I don’t know what I might not do. You’ll promise me never to tell him, or mamma?’
‘I never will. You do not think I would for anything short of saving—’ She was going to have said, ‘saving you and Roger from pain.’ But Cynthia broke in,—
’For nothing. No reason whatever must make you tell your father. If you fail, you fail, and I will love you for ever for trying; but I shall be no worse than before. Better, indeed; for I shall have the comfort of your sympathy. But promise me not to tell Mr. Gibson.’
‘I have promised once,’ said Molly, ’but I promise again; so now do go to bed, and try and rest. You are looking as white as a sheet; you’ll be ill if you don’t get some rest; and it’s past two o’clock, and you’re shivering with cold.’
So they wished each other good-night. But when Molly got into her room all her spirit left her; and she threw herself down on her bed, dressed as she was, for she had no heart left for anything. If Roger ever heard of it all by any chance, she felt how it would disturb his love for Cynthia. And yet was it right to conceal it from him? She must try and persuade Cynthia to tell it all straight out to him as soon as he returned to England. A full confession on her part would wonderfully lessen any pain he might have on first hearing of it. She lost herself in thoughts of Roger—how he would feel, what he would say, how that meeting would come to pass, where he was at that very time, and so on, till she suddenly plucked herself up, and recollected what she herself had offered and promised to do. Now that the first fervour was over, she saw the difficulties clearly; and the foremost of all was how she was to manage to have a tete-a-tete with Mr. Preston? How had Cynthia managed? and the letters that had passed between them too? Unwillingly, Molly was compelled to perceive that there must have been a great deal of underhand work going on beneath Cynthia’s apparent openness of behaviour; and still more unwillingly she began to be afraid that she herself would be led into the practice. But she would try and walk in a straight path; and if she did wander out of it, it should only be to save pain to those whom she loved.
MOLLY GIBSON TO THE RESCUE