The Black Robe
Bernard Winterfield's Correspondence
From Mrs. Romayne to Mr. Winterfield.
HAS my letter failed to reach you? I directed it (as I direct this) to Beaupark,
not knowing your London address.
Yesterday, Father Benwell called at Ten Acres Lodge. He first saw my mother
and myself and he contrived to mention your name. It was done with his
usual adroitness, and I might perhaps have passed it over if he had not
looked at me. I hope and pray it may be only my fancy--but I thought I saw,
in his eyes, that he was conscious of having me in his power, and that he
might betray me to my husband at any moment.
I have no sort of claim on you. And, Heaven knows, I have little reason to
trust you. But I thought you meant fairly by me when we spoke together at
this house. In that belief, I entreat you to tell me if Father Benwell has
intruded himself into your confidence--or even if you have hinted anything to
him which gives him a hold over me.
From Mr. Winterfield to Mrs. Romayne.
Both your letters have reached me.
I have good reason for believing that you are entirely mistaken in your
estimate of Father Benwell's character. But I know, by sad experience, how
you hold to your opinions when they are once formed; and I am eager to
relieve you of all anxiety, so far as I am concerned. I have not said one word-
-I have not even let slip the slightest hint--which could inform Father Benwell
of that past event in our lives to which your letter alludes. Your secret is a
sacred secret to me; and it has been, and shall be, sacredly kept.
There is a sentence in your letter which has given me great pain. You
reiterate the cruel language of the bygone time. You say, "Heaven knows I
have little reason to trust you."
I have reasons, on my side, for not justifying myself--except under certain
conditions. I mean under conditions which might place me in a position to
serve and advise you as a friend or brother. In that case, I undertake to
prove, even to you, that it was a cruel injustice ever to have doubted me, and
that there is no man living whom y ou can more implicitly trust than myself.
My address, when I am in London, is at the head of this page.