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EARLIER than usual on the morning of Thursday, the twenty-third of July, Mr.
Clare appeared at the door of his cottage, and stepped out into the little strip of
garden attached to his residence.
After he had taken a few turns backward and forward, alone, he was joined by a
spare, quiet, gray-haired man, whose personal appearance was totally devoid of
marked character of any kind; whose inexpressive face and conventionally-quiet
manner presented nothing that attracted approval and nothing that inspired
dislike. This was Mr. Pendril -- this was the man on whose lips hung the future of
the orphans at Combe-Raven.
"The time is getting on," he said, looking toward the shrubbery, as he joined Mr.
"My appointment with Miss Garth is for eleven o'clock: it only wants ten minutes
of the hour."
"Are you to see her alone?" asked Mr. Clare.
"I left Miss Garth to decide -- after warning her, first of all, that the circumstances
I am compelled to disclose are of a very serious nature."
"And has she decided?"
"She writes me word that she mentioned my appointment, and repeated the
warning I had given her to both the daughters. The elder of the two shrinks -- and
who can wonder at it? -- from any discussion connected with the future which
requires her presence so soon as the day after the funeral. The younger one
appears to have expressed no opinion on the subject. As I understand it, she
suffers herself to be passively guided by her sister's example. My interview,
therefore, will take place with Miss Garth alone -- and it is a very great relief to
me to know it."