’Very probably. Still I cannot see of what either she or you have to complain. Inasmuch as we could, I and mine have sheltered her; I have loved her; I do love her almost as if she were my own child—as well as Molly, I do not pretend to do.’
‘That’s it, Mr. Gibson! you do not treat her like your own child.’ But in the midst of this wrangle Molly stole out, and went in search of Cynthia. She thought she bore an olive-branch of healing in the sound of her father’s just spoken words: ’I do love her almost as if she were my own child.’ But Cynthia was locked into her room, and refused to open the’ door.
‘Open to me, please,’ pleaded Molly. ’I have something to say to you—I want to see you—do open!’
‘No!’ said Cynthia. ’Not now. I am busy. Leave me alone. I don’t want to hear what you have got to say. I do not want to see you. By-and-by we shall meet, and then—’ Molly stood quite quietly, wondering what new words of more persuasion she could use. In a minute or two Cynthia called out, ‘Are you there still, Molly?’ and when Molly answered ‘Yes,’ and hoped for a relenting, the same hard metallic voice, telling of resolution and repression, spoke out, ’Go away. I cannot bear the feeling of your being there—waiting and listening. Go downstairs—out of the house—anywhere away. It is the most you can do for me, now.’
‘TROUBLES NEVER COME ALONE’
Molly had her out-of-door things on, and she crept away as she was bidden; she lifted her heavy weight of heart and body along till she came to a field, not so very far off,—where she had sought the comfort of loneliness ever since she was a child; and there, under the hedge-bank, she sate down, burying her face in her hands, and quivering all over as she thought of Cynthia’s misery, that she might not try to touch or assuage. She never knew how long she sate there, but it was long past lunch-time when once again she stole up to her room. The door opposite was open wide,—Cynthia had quitted the chamber. Molly arranged her dress and went down into the drawing-room. Cynthia and her mother sate there in the stern repose of an armed neutrality. Cynthia’s face looked made of stone, for colour and rigidity; but she was netting away as if nothing unusual had occurred. Not so Mrs. Gibson: her face bore evident marks of tears, and she looked up and greeted Molly’s entrance with a faint smiling notice. Cynthia went on as though she had never heard the opening of the door, or felt the approaching sweep of Molly’s dress. Molly took up a book,—not to read, but to have the semblance of some employment which should not necessitate conversation.
There was no measuring the duration of the silence that ensued. Molly grew to fancy it was some old enchantment that weighed upon their tongues and kept them still. At length Cynthia spoke, but she had to begin again before her words came clear,—