The Evil Genius
21. The Governess
Linley had one instant left, in which he might have drawn, back into the library in time to
escape Sydney's notice. He was incapable of the effort of will. Grief and suspense had
deprived him of that elastic readiness of mind which springs at once from thought to
action. For a moment he hesitated. In that moment she looked up and saw him.
With a faint cry of alarm she let the cloak drop from her hands. As helpless as he was, as
silent as he was, she stood rooted to the spot.
He tried to control himself. Hardly knowing what he said, he made commonplace
excuses, as if he had been a stranger: "I am sorry to have startled you; I had no idea of
finding you in this room."
Sydney pointed to her cloak on the floor, and to her hat on a chair near it. Understanding
the necessity which had brought her into the room, he did his best to reconcile her to the
meeting that had followed.
"It's a relief to me to have seen you," he said, "before you leave us."
A relief to him to see her! Why? How? What did that strange word mean, addressed to
her? She roused herself, and put the question to him.
"It's surely better for me," he answered, "to hear the miserable news from you than from a
"What miserable news?" she asked, still as perplexed as ever.
He could preserve his self-control no longer; the misery in him forced its way outward at
last. The convulsive struggles for breath which burst from a man in tears shook him from
head to foot.
"My poor little darling!" he gasped. "My only child!"
All that was embarrassing in her position passed from Sydney's mind in an instant. She
stepped close up to him; she laid her hand gently and fearlessly on his arm. "Oh, Mr.
Linley, what dreadful mistake is this?"
His dim eyes rested on her with a piteous expression of doubt. He heard her--and he was
afraid to believe her. She was too deeply distressed, too full of the truest pity for him, to
wait and think before she spoke. "Yes! yes!" she cried, under the impulse of the moment.
"The dear child knew me again, the moment I spoke to her. Kitty's recovery is only a
matter of time."