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The house was so still that I heard the girl's light step upstairs.
On her return, she brought a message, to the effect that Mrs.
Steerforth was an invalid and could not come down; but that if I
would excuse her being in her chamber, she would be glad to see me.
In a few moments I stood before her.

She was in his room; not in her own. I felt, of course, that she
had taken to occupy it, in remembrance of him; and that the many
tokens of his old sports and accomplishments, by which she was
surrounded, remained there, just as he had left them, for the same
reason. She murmured, however, even in her reception of me, that
she was out of her own chamber because its aspect was unsuited to
her infirmity; and with her stately look repelled the least
suspicion of the truth.

At her chair, as usual, was Rosa Dartle. From the first moment of
her dark eyes resting on me, I saw she knew I was the bearer of
evil tidings. The scar sprung into view that instant. She
withdrew herself a step behind the chair, to keep her own face out
of Mrs. Steerforth's observation; and scrutinized me with a
piercing gaze that never faltered, never shrunk.

'I am sorry to observe you are in mourning, sir,' said Mrs.

'I am unhappily a widower,' said I.

'You are very young to know so great a loss,' she returned. 'I am
grieved to hear it. I am grieved to hear it. I hope Time will be
good to you.'

'I hope Time,' said I, looking at her, 'will be good to all of us.
Dear Mrs. Steerforth, we must all trust to that, in our heaviest

The earnestness of my manner, and the tears in my eyes, alarmed
her. The whole course of her thoughts appeared to stop, and

I tried to command my voice in gently saying his name, but it
trembled. She repeated it to herself, two or three times, in a low
tone. Then, addressing me, she said, with enforced calmness:

'My son is ill.'
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