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CECILIA IN A NEW CHARACTER.
Reaching the cottage at night, Emily found the card of a visitor who had called during the day. It bore the name of "Miss Wyvil," and had a message written on it which strongly excited Emily's curiosity.
"I have seen the telegra m which tells your servant that you return to-night. Expect me early to-morrow morning--with news that will deeply interest you."
To what news did Cecilia allude? Emily questioned the woman who had been left in charge of the cottage, and found that she had next to nothing to tell. Miss Wyvil had flushed up, and had looked excited, when she read the telegraphic message--that was all. Emily's impatience was, as usual, not to be concealed. Expert Mrs. Ellmother treated the case in the right way--first with supper, and then with an adjournment to bed. The clock struck twelve, when she put out the young mistress's candle. "Ten hours to pass before Cecilia comes here!" Emily exclaimed. "Not ten minutes," Mrs. Ellmother reminded her, "if you will only go to sleep."
Cecilia arrived before the breakfast-table was cleared; as lovely, as gentle, as affectionate as ever--but looking unusually serious and subdued.
"Out with it at once!" Emily cried. "What have you got to tell me?'
"Perhaps, I had better tell you first," Cecilia said, "that I know what you kept from me when I came here, after you left us at Monksmoor. Don't think, my dear, that I say this by way of complaint. Mr. Alban Morris says you had good reasons for keeping your secret."
"Mr. Alban Morris! Did you get your information from him?"
"Yes. Do I surprise you?"
"More than words can tell!"
"Can you bear another surprise? Mr. Morris has seen Miss Jethro, and has discovered that Mr. Mirabel has been wrongly suspected of a dreadful crime. Our amiable little clergyman is guilty of being a coward--and guilty of nothing else. Are you really quiet enough to read about it?"
She produced some leaves of paper filled with writing. "There," she explained, "is Mr. Morris's own account of all that passed between Miss Jethro and himself."
"But how do you come by it?"
"Mr. Morris gave it to me. He said, 'Show it to Emily as soon as possible; and take care to be with her while she reads it.' There is a reason for this--" Cecilia's voice faltered. On the brink of some explanation, she seemed to recoil from it. "I will tell you by-and-by what the reason is," she said.
Emily looked nervously at the manuscript. "Why doesn't he tell me himself what he has discovered? Is he--" The leaves began to flutter in her trembling fingers--"is he angry with me?"
"Oh, Emily, angry with You! Read what he has written and you shall know why he keeps away."
Emily opened the manuscript.
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