Cecilia, once more saved from the necessity of approaching her sister, the mistress of the house, so fugitive, haunting, and unseen, yet so much the centre of this situation, said:
"Can I speak to you a minute, Hilary?"
They went into his study, and Miranda came creeping in behind.
To Cecilia her brother-in-law always seemed an amiable and more or less pathetic figure. In his literary preoccupations he allowed people to impose on him. He looked unsubstantial beside the bust of Socrates, which moved Cecilia strangely--it was so very massive and so very ugly! She decided not to beat about the bush.
"I've been hearing some odd things from Mrs. Hughs about that little model, Hilary."
Hilary's smile faded from his eyes, but remained clinging to his lips.
Cecilia went on nervously: "Mrs. Hughs says it's because of her that Hughs behaves so badly. I don't want to say anything against the girl, but she seems--she seems to have---"
"To have cast a spell on Hughs, as the woman puts it."