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III.2. The Man Is Found
Neelie entered the room, carrying the tray with the tea, the dry toast, and the pat
of butter which composed the invalid's invariable breakfast.
"What does this mean?" asked Mrs. Milroy, speaking and looking as she might
have spoken and looked if the wrong servant had come into the room.
Neelie put the tray down on the bedside table. "I thought I should like to bring
you up your breakfast, mamma, for once in a way," she replied, "and I asked
Rachel to let me."
"Come here," said Mrs. Milroy, "and wish me good-morning."
Neelie obeyed. As she stooped to kiss her mother, Mrs. Milroy caught her by the
arm, and turned her roughly to the light. There were plain signs of disturbance and
distress in her daughter's face. A deadly thrill of terror ran through Mrs. Milroy on
the instant. She suspected that the opening of the letter had been discovered by
Miss Gwilt, and that the nurse was keeping out of the way in consequence.
"Let me go, mamma," said Neelie, shrinking under her mother's grasp. "You hurt
"Tell me why you have brought up my breakfast this morning," persisted Mrs.
"I have told you, mamma."
"You have not! You have made an excuse; I see it in your face. Come! what is
Neelie's resolution gave way before her mother's. She looked aside uneasily at the
things in the tray. "I have been vexed," she said, with an effort; "and I didn't want
to stop in the breakfast-room. I wanted to come up here, and to speak to you."
"Vexed? Who has vexed you? What has happened? Has Miss Gwilt anything to
do with it?"
Neelie looked round again at her mother in sudden curiosity and alarm.
"Mamma!" she said, "you read my thoughts. I declare you frighten me. It was
Miss Gwilt."
Before Mrs. Milroy could say a word more on her side, the door opened and the
nurse looked in.
"Have you got what you want?" she asked, as composedly as usual. "Miss, there,
insisted on taking your tray up this morning. Has she broken anything?"
"Go to the window. I want to speak to Rachel," said Mrs. Milroy.
As soon as her daughter's back was turned, she beckoned eagerly to the nurse.
"Anything wrong?" she asked, in a whisper. "Do you think she suspects us?"
The nurse turned away with her hard, sneering smile. "I told you it should be
done," she said, "and it has been done. She hasn't the ghost of a suspicion. I
waited in the room; and I saw her take up the letter and open it."
Mrs. Milroy drew a deep breath of relief. "Thank you," she said, loud enough for
her daughter to hear. "I want nothing more."
The nurse withdrew; and Neelie came back from the window. Mrs. Milroy took
her by the hand, and looked at her more attentively and more kindly than usual.