“You’re not such a fool as to leave them alone together?” said the woman, who seemed to have a pleasure in working upon Harriet’s jealousy.
“No fear! But they understand each other; I can see that well enough. And he writes to her; I’m dead sure he writes to her. Let me get hold of a letter just once, that’s all!”
“And he’s orful good-natured to her, ain’t he? Looks after her when she has tea with you, and so on?”
“I should think he did. It’s all—’Won’t Miss Starr have this?’ and ‘Won’t Miss Starr have that?’ He scarcely takes his eyes off of her, all the time.”
“I know, I know; it’s allus the same! You keep your eyes open, Harriet, and you’ll ’ave your reward, as the Scriptures says.”
When she reached home, Julian was in the uneasy condition always brought about by these late absences. To a remark he made about the time, she vouchsafed no answer.
“Have you been with Ida all the evening?” he asked.
“No, I haven’t,” was her reply.
She went into the bed-room, and was absent for a few minutes, then reappeared.
“Do you know where my silver spoon is?” she asked, looking closely at him.
“Your silver spoon?” he returned, in surprise. “Have you lost it?”
The article in question, together with a fork, hod been a wedding-present from Mrs. Sprowl, whose character had in it a sort of vulgar generosity, displayed at times in gifts to Harriet.
“I can’t find it,” Harriet said. “I was showing it to Ida Starr when she was here on Sunday, and now I come to look for it, it’s gone.”
“Oh, it can’t be very far off,” said Julian. “You’ll find it if you look.”
“But I tell you I’ve looked everywhere. It’s gone, that’s all I know.”
“Well, but—what do you mean? How can it have gone?”
“I don’t know. I only know I was showing it her on Sunday.”
“And what connection is there between the two things?” asked Julian, almost sternly. “You don’t wish me to understand that Ida Starr knows anything about the spoon?”
“How can I tell? It’s gone.”
“Come,” exclaimed Julian, with a laugh, “this is too absurd, Harriet! You must have taken leave of your senses. If it’s gone, then some one in the house has taken it.”
“And why not Ida Starr?”
Julian stared at her with mingled anger and alarm.
“Why not? Simply because she is incapable of such a thing.”
“Perhaps you think so, no doubt. You think a good deal of her, it seems to me. Perhaps you don’t know quite as much about her as I do.”
“I fancy I know much more,” exclaimed Julian indignantly.
“Oh, do you?”
“If you think her capable of stealing your spoon, you show complete ignorance of her character. What do you know of her that you should have such suspicions?”
“Never mind,” said Harriet, nodding her head obstinately.