The lad gave the necessary directions. Mirabel walked away slowly, with his hands in his pockets. His nerves had been shaken; he thought a little fruit might refresh him.
In the meanwhile Emily had been true to her promise to relieve Mirabel's anxieties, on the subject of Miss Jethro. Entering the drawing-room in search of Alban, she found him talking with Cecilia, and heard her own name mentioned as she opened the door.
"Here she is at last!" Cecilia exclaimed. "What in the world has kept you all this time in the rose garden?"
"Has Mr. Mirabel been more interesting than usual?" Alban asked gayly. Whatever sense of annoyance he might have felt in Emily's absence, was forgotten the moment she appeared; all traces of trouble in his face vanished when they looked at each other.
"You shall judge for yourself," Emily replied with a smile. "Mr. Mirabel has been speaking to me of a relative who is very dear to him--his sister."
Cecilia was surprised. "Why has he never spoken to _us_ of his sister?" she asked.
"It's a sad subject to speak of, my dear. His sister lives a life of suffering--she has been for years a prisoner in her room. He writes to her constantly. His letters from Monksmoor have interested her, poor soul. It seems he said something about me--and she has sent a kind message, inviting me to visit her one of these days. Do you understand it now, Cecilia?"
"Of course I do! Tell me--is Mr. Mirabel's sister older or younger than he is?"