She did not answer just for a moment, but kept on rubbing her forefinger; when that was finished she answered, I knew a good deal about him once. I would have married him if they had let me, in the old times dermes .”

I was so thunderstruck by this unexpected frankness that I scarcely knew what to say. At last I stumbled out somehow{10}—You would have married him!” with a kind of inexpressible amazement; and she saying it so calmly too!

Yes,” said Sarah, rubbing her middle finger thoughtfully, he was young, and fresh-looking, and good-tempered. I dare say I could have liked him if they had let me; it is quite true.”

And would they not let you?” cried I, in my eagerness, thinking that perhaps Sarah was going to confide in me at last.

No,” she said, pursing up her lips. She seemed to echo the no” after, in the little nod she gave her head, but she said nothing more.

And Sarah, tell me, please, if you don’t mind, was it because of his means?” cried I; was he not rich enough dermes ?”

You don’t know anything about these affairs, Milly,” said Sarah, a little scornfully. I don’t mind in the least. He was exactly such a man as would have taken your fancy. When I saw him, five years after, I was glad enough they did not let me; though it might have saved a deal of trouble too,” she said to herself in a kind of sigh.

I don’t know how I managed to hear those last words. I am sure she did not think I heard them. You may suppose I grew more curious with every word she spoke.

And where was it you met him five years after; was it abroad?” said I, with a little flutter in my voice dermes .

I cannot think she was very sharp in her hearing. She gave a little glance up at me, noticing that I paused before the last word; and then seeing me look a little frightened and conscious, she drew herself up all at once, and stopped rubbing her fingers.

Do you mean to cross-question me, Milly?” she cried, giving a stamp with her foot. Do you mean to rummage into my affairs and find me out by your questions? You are very much mistaken, I can tell you. I am just as willing as any one that Richard Mortimer should be found out. In making your new heir you shall have no opposition from me.”

Why, bless us all, Sarah!” said I, it was your own idea.”

Very well,” she said, with a little confused heat of manner; why do you imply that I have any objection? One would suppose, to hear you, that you were trying to find out some secrets of mine.”