Support the Monkey! Tell All your Friends and Teachers
but it was like the marriage of a reduced old noble to a plebeian
pauper, and each party to the ill-assorted union shrunk away from
the other. Several of the back windows on the staircase had been
darkened or wholly blocked up. In those that remained, there was
scarcely any glass; and, through the crumbling frames by which the
bad air seemed always to come in, and never to go out, I saw,
through other glassless windows, into other houses in a similar
condition, and looked giddily down into a wretched yard, which was
the common dust-heap of the mansion.
We proceeded to the top-storey of the house. Two or three times,
by the way, I thought I observed in the indistinct light the skirts
of a female figure going up before us. As we turned to ascend the
last flight of stairs between us and the roof, we caught a full
view of this figure pausing for a moment, at a door. Then it
turned the handle, and went in.
'What's this!' said Martha, in a whisper. 'She has gone into my
room. I don't know her!'
I knew her. I had recognized her with amazement, for Miss Dartle.
I said something to the effect that it was a lady whom I had seen
before, in a few words, to my conductress; and had scarcely done
so, when we heard her voice in the room, though not, from where we
stood, what she was saying. Martha, with an astonished look,
repeated her former action, and softly led me up the stairs; and
then, by a little back-door which seemed to have no lock, and which
she pushed open with a touch, into a small empty garret with a low
sloping roof, little better than a cupboard. Between this, and the
room she had called hers, there was a small door of communication,
standing partly open. Here we stopped, breathless with our ascent,
and she placed her hand lightly on my lips. I could only see, of
the room beyond, that it was pretty large; that there was a bed in
it; and that there were some common pictures of ships upon the
walls. I could not see Miss Dartle, or the person whom we had
heard her address. Certainly, my companion could not, for my
position was the best.
A dead silence prevailed for some moments. Martha kept one hand on
my lips, and raised the other in a listening attitude.
'It matters little to me her not being at home,' said Rosa Dartle
haughtily, 'I know nothing of her. It is you I come to see.'
'Me?' replied a soft voice.