It rained all through the night, and when the morning came it was raining still.
Contrary to his ordinary habit, Midwinter was waiting in the breakfast-room when
Allan entered it. He looked worn and weary, but his smile was gentler and his
manner more composed than usual. To Allan's surprise he approached the subject
of the previous night's conversation of his own accord as soon as the servant was
out of the room.
"I am afraid you thought me very impatient and very abrupt with you last night,"
he said. "I will try to make amends for it this morning. I will hear everything you
wish to say to me on the subject of Miss Gwilt."
"I hardly like to worry you," said Allan. "You look as if you had had a bad night's
"I have not slept well for some time past," replied Midwinter, quietly. "Something
has been wrong with me. But I believe I have found out the way to put myself
right again without troubling the doctors. Late in the morning I shall have
something to say to you about this. Let us get back first to what you were talking
of last night. You were speaking of some difficulty--" He hesitated, and finished
the sentence in a tone so low that Allan failed to hear him. "Perhaps it would be
better," he went on, "if, instead of speaking to me, you spoke to Mr. Brock?"
"I would rather speak to you," said Allan. "But tell me first, was I right or wrong
last night in thinking you disapproved of my falling in love with Miss Gwilt?"
Midwinter's lean, nervous fingers began to crumble the bread in his plate. His
eyes looked away from Allan for the first time.
"If you have any objection," persisted Allan, "I should like to hear it."
Midwinter suddenly looked up again, his cheeks turning ashy pale, and his
glittering black eyes fixed full on Allan's face.
"You love her," he said. "Does she love you?"
"You won't think me vain?" returned Allan. "I told you yesterday I had had
private opportunities with her--"
Midwinter's eyes dropped again to the crumbs on his plate. "I understand," he
interposed, quickly. "You were wrong last night. I had no objections to make."
"Don't you congratulate me?" asked Allan, a little uneasily. "Such a beautiful
woman! such a clever woman!"
Midwinter held out his hand. "I owe you more than mere congratulations," he
said. "In anything which is for your happiness I owe you help." He took Allan's
hand, and wrung it hard. "Can I help you?" he asked, growing paler and paler as
"My dear fellow," exclaimed Allan, "what is the matter with you? Your hand is as
cold as ice."