In the Year of Jubilee eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 509 pages of information about In the Year of Jubilee.

In the Year of Jubilee eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 509 pages of information about In the Year of Jubilee.

She spoke coldly, but with down-dropt eyes.

‘I am not married.’

The words cost her little effort.  Practically, she had uttered them before; her overbold replies were an admission of what, from the first, she supposed Beatrice to charge her with—­not secret wedlock, but secret shame.  Beatrice, however, had adopted that line of suggestion merely from policy, hoping to sting the proud girl into avowal of a legitimate union; she heard the contrary declaration with fresh surprise.

‘I should never have believed it of Miss.  Lord,’ was her half ingenuous, half sly comment.

Nancy, beginning to realise what she had done, sat with head bent, speechless.

‘Don’t distress yourself,’ continued the other.  ’Not a soul will hear of it from me.  If you like to tell me more, you can do it quite safely; I’m no blabber, and I’m not a rascal.  I should never have troubled to make inquiries about you, down yonder, if it hadn’t been that I suspected Crewe.  That’s a confession, you know; take it in return for yours.’

Nancy was tongue-tied.  A full sense of her humiliation had burst upon her.  She, who always condescended to Miss.  French, now lay smirched before her feet, an object of vulgar contempt.

‘What does it matter?’ went on Beatrice genially.  ’You’ve got over the worst, and very cleverly.  Are you going to marry him when you come in for your money?’

‘Perhaps—­I don’t know—­’

She faltered, no longer able to mask in impudence, and hardly restraining tears.  Beatrice ceased to doubt, and could only wonder with amusement.

’Why shouldn’t we be good friends, Nancy?  I tell you, I am no rascal.  I never thought of making anything out of your secret—­not I. If it had been Crewe, marriage or no marriage—­well, I might have shown my temper.  I believe I have a pretty rough side to my tongue; but I’m a good enough sort if you take me in the right way.  Of course I shall never rest for wondering who it can be—­’

She paused, but Nancy did not look up, did not stir.

’Perhaps you’ll tell me some other time.  But there’s one thing I should like to ask about, and it’s for your own good that I should know it.  When Crewe was down there, don’t you think he tumbled to anything?’

Perplexed by unfamiliar slang, Nancy raised her eyes.

‘Found out anything, you mean?  I don’t know.’

‘But you must have been in a jolly fright about it?’

‘I gave it very little thought,’ replied Nancy, able now to command a steady voice, and retiring behind a manner of frigid indifference.

’No?  Well, of course I understand that better now I know that you can’t lose anything.  Still, it is to be hoped he didn’t go asking questions.  By-the-bye, you may as well just tell me:  he has asked you to marry him, hasn’t he?’


Beatrice nodded.

’Doesn’t matter.  You needn’t be afraid, even if he got hold of anything.  He isn’t the kind of man to injure you out of spite.’

Project Gutenberg
In the Year of Jubilee from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.