The Malefactor HTML version

II.5. Guardian And Ward
"Up to the present, then," Wingrave remarked, "the child has no idea as to who has been
responsible for the charge of her?"
"No idea at all, Sir Wingrave," the lawyer declared. "Your wishes have been strictly
carried out, most strictly. She imagines that it is some unknown connection of her father.
But, as I explained to you in my letter, she has recently exhibited a good deal of curiosity
in the matter. She is--er--a young lady of considerable force of character for her years,
and her present attitude--as I explained in my letter--is a trifle difficult."
Wingrave was sitting in the lawyer's own chair. Mr. Pengarth, who was a trifle nervous,
preferred to stand.
"She shows, I think, a certain amount of ingratitude in forcing this journey and
explanation upon me," Wingrave declared coldly. "It should have been sufficient for her
that her benefactor preferred to remain anonymous."
"I regret, Sir Wingrave, that I must disagree with you," Mr. Pengarth answered boldly.
"Miss Juliet, Miss Lundy I should say, is a young lady of character--and--er--some
originality of disposition. She is a great favorite with everyone around here."
Wingrave remained silent. He had the air of one not troubling to reply to what he
considered folly. Through the wide open window floated in the various sounds of the
little country town, the rumbling of heavy carts passing along the cobbled streets, the
shrill greetings of neighbors and acquaintances meeting upon the sidewalk. And then the
tinkling bell of a rubber-tired cart pulling up outside, and a clear girlish voice speaking to
some one of the passers-by.
Wingrave betrayed as much surprise as it was possible for him to show when at last she
stood with outstretched hand before him. He had only an imperfect recollection of an ill-
clad, untidy-looking child, with pale tear-stained cheeks, and dark unhappy eyes. The
march of the years had been a thing whose effects he had altogether underestimated. The
girl who stood now facing him was slight, and there was something of the child left in her
bright eager face, but she carried herself with all the graceful assurance of an older
woman. Her soft, dark eyes were lit with pleasure and excitement, her delicately traced
eyebrows and delightful smile were somehow suggestive of her foreign descent. Her
clothes were country-made, but perfect as regarded fit and trimness, her beflowered hat
was worn with a touch of coquettish grace, a trifle un-English, but very delightful. She
had not an atom of shyness or embarrassment. Only there was a great surprise in her face
as she held out her hands to Wingrave.