"She was here last night; and I expect to see her again to-day before she returns to Monksmoor with her father. Do you go back with them?"
"Then I remain in London, too."
The strong feeling that was in him had forced its way to expression at last. In happier days--when she had persistently refused to let him speak to her seriously--she would have been ready with a light-hearted reply. She was silent now. Mirabel pleaded with her not to misunderstand him, by an honest confession of his motives which presented him under a new aspect. The easy plausible man, who had hardly ever seemed to be in earnest before--meant, seriously meant, what he said now.
"May I try to explain myself?" he asked.
"Pray, don't suppose me capable," Mirabel said earnestly, "of presuming to pay you an idle compliment. I cannot think of you, alone and in trouble, without feeling anxiety which can only be relieved in one way--I must be near enough to hear of you, day by day. Not by repeating this visit! Unless you wish it, I will not again cross the threshold of your door. Mrs. Ellmother will tell me if your mind is more at ease; Mrs. Ellmother will tell me if there is any new trial of your fortitude. She needn't even mention that I have been speaking to her at the door; and she may be sure, and you may be sure, that I shall ask no inquisitive questions. I can feel for you in your misfortune, without wishing to know what that misfortune is. If I can ever be of the smallest use, think of me as your other servant. Say to Mrs. Ellmother, 'I want him'--and say no more."
Where is the woman who could have resisted such devotion as this--inspired, truly inspired, by herself? Emily's eyes softened as she answered him.
"You little know how your kindness touches me," she said.
"Don't speak of my kindness until you have put me to the proof," he interposed. "Can a friend (such a friend as I am, I mean) be of any use?"