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a position to give you the very information you require. Mr. Armadale and Miss
Milroy met about an hour since. The circumstances were as follows:
"Just at the beginning of the thunder-storm, I saw one of the grooms run across
from the stables, and heard him tap at his master's window. Mr. Armadale opened
the window and asked what was the matter. The groom said he came with a
message from the coachman's wife. She had seen from her room over the stables
(which looks on to the park) Miss Milroy quite alone, standing for shelter under
one of the trees. As that part of the park was at some distance from the major's
cottage, she had thought that her master might wish to send and ask the young
lady into the house--especially as she had placed herself, with a thunder-storm
coming on, in what might turn out to be a very dangerous position.
"The moment Mr. Armadale understood the man's message, he called for the
water-proof things and the umbrellas, and ran out himself, instead of leaving it to
the servants. In a little time he and the groom came back with Miss Milroy
between them, as well protected as could be from the rain.
"I ascertained from one of the women-servants, who had taken the young lady
into a bedroom, and had supplied her with such dry things as she wanted, that
Miss Milroy had been afterward shown into the drawing-room, and that Mr.
Armadale was there with her. The only way of following your instructions, and
finding out what passed between them, was to go round the house in the pelting
rain, and get into the conservatory (which opens into the drawing-room) by the
outer door. I hesitate at nothing, dear madam, in your service; I would cheerfully
get wet every day, to please you. Besides, though I may at first sight be thought
rather an elderly man, a wetting is of no very serious consequence to me. I assure
you I am not so old as I look, and I am of a stronger constitution than appears.
"It was impossible for me to get near enough in the conservatory to see what went
on in the drawing-room, without the risk of being discovered. But most of the
conversation reached me, except when they dropped their voices. This is the
substance of what I heard:
"I gathered that Miss Milroy had been prevailed on, against her will, to take
refuge from the thunder-storm in Mr. Armadale's house. She said so, at least, and
she gave two reasons. The first was that her father had forbidden all intercourse
between the cottage and the great house. Mr. Armadale met this objection by
declaring that her father had issued his orders under a total misconception of the
truth, and by entreating her not to treat him as cruelly as the major had treated
him. He entered, I suspect, into some explanations at this point, but as he dropped
his voice I am unable to say what they were. His language, when I did hear it, was
confused and ungrammatical. It seemed, however, to be quite intelligible enough
to persuade Miss Milroy that her father had been acting under a mistaken
impression of the circumstances. At least, I infer this; for, when I next heard the
conversation, the young lady was driven back to her second objection to being in
the house--which was, that Mr. Armadale had behaved very badly to her, and that
he richly deserved that she should never speak to him again.
"In this latter case, Mr. Armadale attempted no defense of any kind. He agreed
with her that he had behaved badly; he agreed with her that he richly deserved she
should never speak to him again. At the same time he implored her to remember