It was awful having to bottle up the truth in one’s own heart, and to laugh and jest like this; but I endured it somehow.
“No, it’s not that,” I said gravely. “I’ve other reasons of my own for asking his address, Minnie. I want to go out there, it’s true; but not because I cherish the faintest pleasing recollection of Dr. Ivor in any way.”
Minnie scanned me over in surprise.
“Well, how you are altered, Una!” she cried. “I love you, dear, and like you every bit as much as ever. But you’ve changed so much. I don’t think you’re at all what you used to be. You’re so grave and sombre.”
“No wonder, Minnie,” I exclaimed, bursting gladly into tears—the excuse was such a relief—“no wonder, when you think how much I’ve passed through!”
Minnie flung her arms around my neck, and kissed me over and over again.
“Oh, dear!” she cried, melting. “What have I done? What have I said? I ought never to have spoken so. It was cruel of me—cruel, Una dear. I shall stop here to-night, and sleep with you.”
“Oh, thank you, darling!” I cried. “Minnie, that is good of you. I’m so awfully glad. For to-morrow I must be thinking of getting ready for Canada.”
“Canada!” Minnie exclaimed, alarmed. “You’re not really going to Canada! Oh, Una, you’re joking! You don’t mean to say you’re going out there to find him!”
I took her hand in mine, and held it up in the air above her head solemnly.
“Dear cousin,” I said, “I love you. But you must promise me this one thing. Whatever may happen, give me your sacred word of honour you’ll never tell anybody what we’ve said here to-night. You’ll kill me if you do. I don’t want any living soul on earth to know of it.”
I spoke so seriously, Minnie felt it was important.
“I promise you,” she answered, growing suddenly far graver than her wont. “Oh, Una, I haven’t the faintest idea what you mean, but no torture on earth shall ever wring a word of it from me!”
So I went to bed in her arms, and cried myself to sleep, thinking with my latest breath, in a tremor of horror, that I’d found it at last. Courtenay Ivor was the name of my father’s murderer!
MY WELCOME TO CANADA
The voyage across the Atlantic was long and uneventful. No whales, no icebergs, no excitement of any sort. My fellow-passengers said it was as dull as it was calm. But as for me, I had plenty to occupy my mind meanwhile. Strange things had happened in the interval, and were happening to me on the way. Strange things, in part, of my own internal history.
For before I left England, as I sat with Aunt Emma in her little drawing-room at Barton-on-the-Sea, discussing my plans and devising routes westward, she made me, quite suddenly, an unexpected confession.
“Una,” she said, after a long pause, “you haven’t told me, my dear, why you’re going to Canada. And I don’t want to ask you. I know pretty well. We needn’t touch upon that. You’re going to hunt up some supposed clue to the murderer.”