"You're excited," replied the nurse. "You're not fit to write."
"Give me the desk," reiterated Mrs. Milroy.
"Anything more?" asked Rachel, repeating her invariable formula as she placed
the desk on the bed.
"Yes. Come back in half an hour. I shall want you to take a letter to the great
The nurse's sardonic composure deserted her for once. "Mercy on us!" she
exclaimed, with an accent of genuine surprise. "What next? You don't mean to say
you're going to write--?"
"I am going to write to Mr. Armadale," interposed Mrs. Milroy; "and you are
going to take the letter to him, and wait for an answer; and, mind this, not a living
soul but our two selves must know of it in the house."
"Why are you writing to Mr. Armadale?" asked Rachel. "And why is nobody to
know of it but our two selves?"
"Wait," rejoined Mrs. Milroy, "and you will see."
The nurse's curiosity, being a woman's curiosity, declined to wait.
"I'll help you with my eyes open," she said; "but I won't help you blindfold."
"Oh, if I only had the use of my limbs!" groaned Mrs. Milroy. "You wretch, if I
could only do without you!"
"You have the use of your head," retorted the impenetrable nurse. "And you ought
to know better than to trust me by halves, at this time of day."
It was brutally put; but it was true--doubly true, after the opening of Miss Gwilt's
letter. Mrs. Milroy gave way.
"What do you want to know?" she asked. "Tell me, and leave me."
"I want to know what you are writing to Mr. Armadale about?"
"About Miss Gwilt."
"What has Mr. Armadale to do with you and Miss Gwilt?"
Mrs. Milroy held up the letter that had been returned to her by the authorities at
"Stoop," she said. "Miss Gwilt may be listening at the door. I'll whisper."
The nurse stooped, with her eye on the door. "You know that the postman went
with this letter to Kingsdown Crescent?" said Mrs. Milroy. "And you know that
he found Mrs. Mandeville gone away, nobody could tell where?"
"Well," whispered Rachel "what next?"
"This, next. When Mr. Armadale gets the letter that I am going to write to him, he
will follow the same road as the postman; and we'll see what happens when he
knocks at Mrs. Mandeville's door."
"How do you get him to the door?"
"I tell him to go to Miss Gwilt's reference."
"Is he sweet on Miss Gwilt?"
"Ah!" said the nurse. "I see!"