"I only wanted to ask, Emily, if you were engaged--at one time--to marry Mr. Mirabel. Is it true?"
"False! He pressed me to consent to an engagement--and I said he must not hurry me."
Vainly Cecilia tried to restrain herself. A cry of joy escaped her.
"Are you glad?" Emily asked. "Why?"
Cecilia made no direct reply. "May I tell you what you wanted to know, a little while since?" she said. "You asked why Mr. Morris left it all to me, instead of speaking to you himself. When I put the same question to him, he told me to read what he had written. 'Not a shadow of suspicion rests on Mr. Mirabel,' he said. 'Emily is free to marry him--and free through Me. Can _I_ tell her that? For her sake, and for mine, it must not be. All that I can do is to leave old remembrances to plead for me. If they fail, I shall know that she will be happier with Mr. Mirabel than with me.' 'And you will submit?' I asked. 'Because I love her,' he answered, 'I must submit.' Oh, how pale you are! Have I distressed you?"
Emily pointed to the manuscript. "At such a time as this?" she said.
Cecilia still held to her resolution. "Such a time as this is the right time," she answered. "It is now, when you most want to be comforted, that you ought to see him. Who can quiet your poor aching heart as _he_ can quiet it?" She impulsively snatched at the manuscript and threw it out of sight. "I can't bear to look at it," she said. "Emily! if I have done wrong, will you forgive me? I saw him this morning before I came here. I was afraid of what might happen--I refused to break the dreadful news to you, unless he was somewhere near us. Your good old servant knows where to go. Let me send her--"
Mrs. Ellmother herself opened the door, and stood doubtful on the threshold, hysterically sobbing and laughing at the same time. "I'm everything that's bad!" the good old creature burst out. "I've been listening--I've been lying--I said you wanted him. Turn me out of my situation, if you like. I've got him! Here he is!"