In short, to accept an alms from Laura Tinley; so said her pleading look for an interpretation.
“You know Mr. Pericles,” said Emilia, “he can do the mischief—can he not? Stop him.”
Laura laughed. “One might almost say that you do not know him, Miss Belloni. What is my influence? I have neither a voice, nor can I play on any instrument. I would—indeed I will—do my best my utmost; only, how even to introduce the subject to him? Are not you the person? He speaks of you constantly. He has consulted doctors with regard to your voice, and the only excuse, dear Miss Belloni, for my visit to you to-day, is my desire that any misunderstanding between you may be cleared. Because, I have just heard—Miss Belloni will forgive me!—the origin of it; and tidings coming that you were in the neighbourhood, I thought—hoped that I might be the means of re-uniting two evidently destined to be of essential service to one another. And really, life means that, does it not?”
Emilia was becoming more critical of this tone the more she listened. She declared, her immediate willingness to meet Mr. Pericles. With which, and Emilia’s assurance that she would write, and herself make the appointment, Laura retired, in high glee at the prospect of winning the gratitude of the inscrutable millionaire. It was true that the absence of any rivalry for the possession of the man took much of his sweetness from him. She seemed to be plucking him from the hands of the dead, and half recognized that victory over uncontesting rivals claps the laurel-wreath rather rudely upon our heads.
Emilia lost no time in running straight to Georgiana, who was busy at her writing-desk. She related what she had just heard, ending breathlessly: “Georgey! my dear! will you help them?”
“In what possible way can I do so?” said Georgiana. To-morrow night we shall have left England.”
“But to-day we are here.” Emilia pressed a hand to her bosom: “my heart feels hollow, and my friends cry out in it. I cannot let him suffer.” She looked into Georgiana’s eyes. “Will you not help them?—they want money.”
The lady reddened. “Is it not preposterous to suppose that I can offer them assistance of such a kind?”
“Not you,” returned Emilia, sighing; and in an under-breath, “me—will you lend it to me? Merthyr would. I shall repay it. I cannot tell what fills me with this delight, but I know I am able to repay any sum. Two thousand pounds would help them. I think—I think my voice has come back.”
“Have you tried it?” said Georgiana, to produce a diversion from the other topic.
“No; but believe me when I tell you, it must be. I scarcely feel the floor; no misery touches me. I am only sorry for my friends, not down on the ground with them. Believe me! And I have been studying all this while. I have not lost an hour. I would accept a part, and step on the boards within a week, and be certain to succeed. I am just as willing to go to the Conservatorio and submit to discipline. Only, dear friend, believe me, that I ask for money now, because I am sure I can repay it. I want to send it immediately, and then, good-bye to England.”