'As you lie here alone, my dear, in the melancholy night, so you must lie somewhere one night, when even I, if I am living then, shall have left you. As I am here beside you, barefoot, unclothed, undistinguishable in darkness, so must I lie through all the night of my decay, until I am dust. In the name of that time, Tom, tell me the truth now!'
'What is it you want to know?'
'You may be certain;' in the energy of her love she took him to her bosom as if he were a child; 'that I will not reproach you. You may be certain that I will be compassionate and true to you. You may be certain that I will save you at whatever cost. O Tom, have you nothing to tell me? Whisper very softly. Say only "yes," and I shall understand you!'
She turned her ear to his lips, but he remained doggedly silent.
'Not a word, Tom?'
'How can I say Yes, or how can I say No, when I don't know what you mean? Loo, you are a brave, kind girl, worthy I begin to think of a better brother than I am. But I have nothing more to say. Go to bed, go to bed.'
'You are tired,' she whispered presently, more in her usual way.
'Yes, I am quite tired out.'
'You have been so hurried and disturbed to-day. Have any fresh discoveries been made?'
'Only those you have heard of, from — him.'
'Tom, have you said to any one that we made a visit to those people, and that we saw those three together?'
'No. Didn't you yourself particularly ask me to keep it quiet when you asked me to go there with you?'
'Yes. But I did not know then what was going to happen.'
'Nor I neither. How could I?'
He was very quick upon her with this retort.
'Ought I to say, after what has happened,' said his sister, standing by the bed — she had gradually withdrawn herself and risen, 'that I made that visit? Should I say so? Must I say so?'
'Good Heavens, Loo,' returned her brother, 'you are not in the habit of asking my advice. say what you like. If you keep it to yourself, I shall keep it to myself. If you disclose it, there's an end of it.'
It was too dark for either to see the other's face; but each seemed very attentive, and to consider before speaking.
'Tom, do you believe the man I gave the money to, is really implicated in this crime?'
'I don't know. I don't see why he shouldn't be.'
'He seemed to me an honest man.'
'Another person may seem to you dishonest, and yet not be so.' There was a pause, for he had hesitated and stopped.
'In short,' resumed Tom, as if he had made up his mind, 'if you come to that, perhaps I was so far from being altogether in his favour, that I took him outside the door to tell him quietly, that I thought he might consider himself very well off to get such a windfall as he had got from my sister, and that I hoped he would make good use of it. You remember whether I took him out or not. I say nothing against the man; he may be a very good fellow, for anything I know; I hope he is.'
'Was he offended by what you said?'
'No, he took it pretty well; he was civil enough. Where are you, Loo?' He sat up in bed and kissed her. 'Good night, my dear, good night.'
'You have nothing more to tell me?'
'No. What should I have? You wouldn't have me tell you a lie!'
'I wouldn't have you do that to-night, Tom, of all the nights in your life; many and much happier as I hope they will be.'
'Thank you, my dear Loo. I am so tired, that I am sure I wonder I don't say anything to get to sleep. Go to bed, go to bed.'
Kissing her again, he turned round, drew the coverlet over his head, and lay as still as if that time had come by which she had adjured him. She stood for some time at the bedside before she slowly moved away. She stopped at the door, looked back when she had opened it, and asked him if he had called her? But he lay still, and she softly closed the door and returned to her room.
Then the wretched boy looked cautiously up and found her gone, crept out of bed, fastened his door, and threw himself upon his pillow again: tearing his hair, morosely crying, grudgingly loving her, hatefully but impenitently spurning himself, and no less hatefully and unprofitably spurning all the good in the world.