But Stephen did not speak, feeling, no doubt, that to pursue the subject would be either to court an ethical, even an abstract, disquisition, and this one did not do in anybody's presence, much less one's wife's or daughter's; or to touch on sordid facts of doubtful character, which was equally distasteful in the circumstances. He, too, however, was uneasy that Thyme should know so much.
The dusk was gathering outside; the fire threw a flickering light, fitfully outlining their figures, making those faces, so familiar to each other, a little mysterious.
At last Stephen broke the silence. "Of course, I'm very sorry for her, but you'd better let it alone--you can't tell with that sort of people; you never can make out what they want--it's safer not to meddle. At all events, it's a matter for a Society to look into first!"
Cecilia answered: "But she's, on my conscience, Stephen."
"They're all on my conscience," muttered Hilary.
Bianca looked at him for the first time; then, turning to her nephew, said: "What do you say, Martin?"
The young man, whose face was stained by the firelight the colour of pale cheese, made no answer.
But suddenly through the stillness came a voice: