‘I don’t believe you,’ said Molly. ’But don’t let us talk any more about it. It is best as it is. I thought—I almost felt sure you would be sorry this morning. But we will leave it alone now.’ She sate silently looking out of the window, her heart sorely stirred, she scarcely knew how or why. But she could not have spoken. Most likely she would have begun to cry if she had spoken. Cynthia stole softly up to her after a while.
‘You are vexed with me, Molly,’ she began in a low voice. But Molly turned sharply round.
’I! I have no business at all in the affair. It is for you to judge. Do what you think right. I believe you have done right. Only I don’t want to discuss it, and paw it over with talk. I am very much tired, dear’— gently now she spoke,—’and I hardly know what I say. If I speak crossly, don’t mind it.’ Cynthia did not reply at once. Then she said,—
’Do you think I might go with you, and help you? I might have done yesterday; and you say he has not opened my letter, so he has not heard as yet. And I was always fond of poor Osborne, in my way, you know.’
‘I cannot tell; I have no right to say,’ replied Molly, scarcely understanding Cynthia’s motives, which, after all, were only impulses in this case. ’Papa would be able to judge; I think, perhaps, you had better not. But don’t go by my opinion, I can only tell what I should wish to do in your place.’
‘It was as much for your sake as any one’s, Molly,’ said Cynthia.
’Oh, then, don’t! I am tired to-day with sitting up; but to-morrow I shall be all right; and I should not like it, if, for my sake, you came into the house at so solemn a time.’
‘Very well!’ said Cynthia, half-glad that her impulsive offer was declined; for, as she said, thinking to herself, ’It would have been awkward after all,’ So Molly went back in the carriage alone, wondering how she should find the squire, wondering what discoveries he had made among Osborne’s papers; and at what conviction he would have arrived.
Robinson opened the door for Molly almost before the carriage had fairly drawn up at the Hall, and told her that the squire had been very anxious for her return, and had more than once sent him to an upstairs window, from which a glimpse of the hill-road between Hollingford and Hamley could be perceived, to know if the carriage was not yet in sight. Molly went into the drawing-room. The squire was standing in the middle of the floor, awaiting her; in fact, longing to go out and meet her, but restrained by a feeling of solemn etiquette, which prevented his moving about as usual in that house of mourning. He held a paper in his hands, which were trembling with excitement and emotion; and four or five open letters were strewed on a table near him.