The New Magdalen (Chapter 9, page 1 of 10)

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Chapter 9

LADY JANET'S curiosity was by this time thoroughly aroused. Summoned to
explain who the nameless lady mentioned in his letter could possibly be,
Julian had looked at her adopted daughter. Asked next to explain what
her adopted daughter had got to do with it, he had declared that he
could not answer while Miss Roseberry was in the room.

What did he mean? Lady Janet determined to find out.

"I hate all mysteries," she said to Julian. "And as for secrets, I
consider them to be one of the forms of ill-breeding. People in our rank
of life ought to be above whispering in corners. If you _must_ have your
mystery, I can offer you a corner in the library. Come with me."

Julian followed his aunt very reluctantly. Whatever the mystery might
be, he was plainly embarrassed by being called upon to reveal it at a
moment's notice. Lady Janet settled herself in her chair, prepared to
question and cross-question her nephew, when an obstacle appeared at the
other end of the library, in the shape of a man-servant with a message.
One of Lady Janet's neighbors had called by appointment to take her to
the meeting of a certain committee which assembled that day. The servant
announced that the neighbor--an elderly lady--was then waiting in her
carriage at the door.

Lady Janet's ready invention set the obstacle aside without a
moment's delay. She directed the servant to show her visitor into the
drawing-room, and to say that she was unexpectedly engaged, but that
Miss Roseberry would see the lady immediately. She then turned to
Julian, and said, with her most satirical emphasis of tone and manner:
"Would it be an additional convenience if Miss Roseberry was not only
out of the room before you disclose your secret, but out of the house?"

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