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The New Magdalen

12. Exit Julian
JULIAN happened to be standing nearest to Mercy. He was the first at her side when she
fell.
In the cry of alarm which burst from him, as he raised her for a moment in his arms, in
the expression of his eyes when he looked at her death-like face, there escaped the plain--
too plain--confession of the interest which he felt in her, of the admiration which she had
aroused in him. Horace detected it. There was the quick suspicion of jealousy in the
movement by which he joined Julian; there was the ready resentment of jealousy in the
tone in which he pronounced the words, "Leave her to me." Julian resigned her in silence.
A faint flush appeared on his pale face as he drew back while Horace carried her to the
sofa. His eyes sunk to the ground; he seemed to be meditating self-reproachfully on the
tone in which his friend had spoken to him. After having been the first to take an active
part in meeting the calamity that had happened, he was now, to all appearance, insensible
to everything that was passing in the room.
A touch on his shoulder roused him.
He turned and looked round. The woman who had done the mischief--the stranger in the
poor black garments--was standing behind him. She pointed to the prostrate figure on the
sofa, with a merciless smile.
"You wanted a proof just now," she said. "There it is!"
Horace heard her. He suddenly left the sofa and joined Julian. His face, naturally ruddy,
was pale with suppressed fury.
"Take that wretch away!" he said. "Instantly! or I won't answer for what I may do."
Those words recalled Julian to himself. He looked round the room. Lady Janet and the
housekeeper were together, in attendance on the swooning woman. The startled servants
were congregated in the library doorway. One of them offered to run to the nearest
doctor; another asked if he should fetch the police. Julian silenced them by a gesture, and
turned to Horace. "Compose yourself," he said. "Leave me to remove her quietly from the
house." He took Grace by the hand as he spoke. She hesitated, and tried to release herself.
Julian pointed to the group at the sofa, and to the servants looking on. "You have made an
enemy of every one in this room," he said, "and you have not a friend in London. Do you
wish to make an enemy of me? Her head drooped; she made no reply; she waited,
dumbly obedient to the firmer will than her own. Julian ordered the servants crowding
together in the doorway to withdraw. He followed them into the library, leading Grace
after him by the hand. Before closing the door he paused, and looked back into the
dining-room.
"Is she recovering?" he asked, after a moment's hesitation.
 
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