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while, until last night.'


'Indeed, Miss Dartle, no!'

As she looked full at me, I saw her face grow sharper and paler,
and the marks of the old wound lengthen out until it cut through
the disfigured lip, and deep into the nether lip, and slanted down
the face. There was something positively awful to me in this, and
in the brightness of her eyes, as she said, looking fixedly at me:

'What is he doing?'

I repeated the words, more to myself than her, being so amazed.

'What is he doing?' she said, with an eagerness that seemed enough
to consume her like a fire. 'In what is that man assisting him,
who never looks at me without an inscrutable falsehood in his eyes?
If you are honourable and faithful, I don't ask you to betray your
friend. I ask you only to tell me, is it anger, is it hatred, is
it pride, is it restlessness, is it some wild fancy, is it love,
what is it, that is leading him?'

'Miss Dartle,' I returned, 'how shall I tell you, so that you will
believe me, that I know of nothing in Steerforth different from
what there was when I first came here? I can think of nothing. I
firmly believe there is nothing. I hardly understand even what you

As she still stood looking fixedly at me, a twitching or throbbing,
from which I could not dissociate the idea of pain, came into that
cruel mark; and lifted up the corner of her lip as if with scorn,
or with a pity that despised its object. She put her hand upon it
hurriedly - a hand so thin and delicate, that when I had seen her
hold it up before the fire to shade her face, I had compared it in
my thoughts to fine porcelain - and saying, in a quick, fierce,
passionate way, 'I swear you to secrecy about this!' said not a
word more.

Mrs. Steerforth was particularly happy in her son's society, and
Steerforth was, on this occasion, particularly attentive and
respectful to her. It was very interesting to me to see them
together, not only on account of their mutual affection, but
because of the strong personal resemblance between them, and the
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