Support the Monkey! Tell All your Friends and Teachers
one, and watched us. When we all four went out walking in the
afternoon, she closed her thin hand on my arm like a spring, to
keep me back, while Steerforth and his mother went on out of
hearing: and then spoke to me.
'You have been a long time,' she said, 'without coming here. Is
your profession really so engaging and interesting as to absorb
your whole attention? I ask because I always want to be informed,
when I am ignorant. Is it really, though?'
I replied that I liked it well enough, but that I certainly could
not claim so much for it.
'Oh! I am glad to know that, because I always like to be put right
when I am wrong,' said Rosa Dartle. 'You mean it is a little dry,
'Well,' I replied; 'perhaps it was a little dry.'
'Oh! and that's a reason why you want relief and change -
excitement and all that?' said she. 'Ah! very true! But isn't it
a little - Eh? - for him; I don't mean you?'
A quick glance of her eye towards the spot where Steerforth was
walking, with his mother leaning on his arm, showed me whom she
meant; but beyond that, I was quite lost. And I looked so, I have
'Don't it - I don't say that it does, mind I want to know - don't
it rather engross him? Don't it make him, perhaps, a little more
remiss than usual in his visits to his blindly-doting - eh?' With
another quick glance at them, and such a glance at me as seemed to
look into my innermost thoughts.
'Miss Dartle,' I returned, 'pray do not think -'
'I don't!' she said. 'Oh dear me, don't suppose that I think
anything! I am not suspicious. I only ask a question. I don't
state any opinion. I want to found an opinion on what you tell me.
Then, it's not so? Well! I am very glad to know it.'
'It certainly is not the fact,' said I, perplexed, 'that I am
accountable for Steerforth's having been away from home longer than
usual - if he has been: which I really don't know at this moment,
unless I understand it from you. I have not seen him this long