'She may have drowned herself, miss,' returned Mr. Littimer, catching at an excuse for addressing himself to somebody. 'It's very possible. Or, she may have had assistance from the boatmen, and the boatmen's wives and children. Being given to low company, she was very much in the habit of talking to them on the beach, Miss Dartle, and sitting by their boats. I have known her do it, when Mr. James has been away, whole days. Mr. James was far from pleased to find out, once, that she had told the children she was a boatman's daughter, and that in her own country, long ago, she had roamed about the beach, like them.'
Oh, Emily! Unhappy beauty! What a picture rose before me of her sitting on the far-off shore, among the children like herself when she was innocent, listening to little voices such as might have called her Mother had she been a poor man's wife; and to the great voice of the sea, with its eternal 'Never more!'
'When it was clear that nothing could be done, Miss Dartle -'
'Did I tell you not to speak to me?' she said, with stern contempt.
'You spoke to me, miss,' he replied. 'I beg your pardon. But it is my service to obey.'
'Do your service,' she returned. 'Finish your story, and go!'
'When it was clear,' he said, with infinite respectability and an obedient bow, 'that she was not to be found, I went to Mr. James, at the place where it had been agreed that I should write to him, and informed him of what had occurred. Words passed between us in consequence, and I felt it due to my character to leave him. I could bear, and I have borne, a great deal from Mr. James; but he insulted me too far. He hurt me. Knowing the unfortunate difference between himself and his mother, and what her anxiety of mind was likely to be, I took the liberty of coming home to England, and relating -'
'For money which I paid him,' said Miss Dartle to me.