8. CHAPTER VIII
Late that evening, I was surprised at my lodgings by a visit from Mr. Bruff.
There was a noticeable change in the lawyer's manner.
It had lost its usual confidence and spirit. He shook hands
with me, for the first time in his life, in silence.
"Are you going back to Hampstead?" I asked, by way of saying something.
"I have just left Hampstead," he answered. "I know, Mr. Franklin,
that you have got at the truth at last. But, I tell you plainly,
if I could have foreseen the price that was to be paid for it,
I should have preferred leaving you in the dark."
"You have seen Rachel?"
"I have come here after taking her back to Portland Place;
it was impossible to let her return in the carriage by herself.
I can hardly hold you responsible--considering that you
saw her in my house and by my permission--for the shock
that this unlucky interview has inflicted on her. All I
can do is to provide against a repetition of the mischief.
She is young--she has a resolute spirit--she will get over this,
with time and rest to help her. I want to be assured that you
will do nothing to hinder her recovery. May I depend on your
making no second attempt to see her--except with my sanction
"After what she has suffered, and after what I have suffered,"
I said, "you may rely on me."
"I have your promise?"
"You have my promise."
Mr. Bruff looked relieved. He put down his hat, and drew his chair nearer
"That's settled!" he said. "Now, about the future--your future, I mean.
To my mind, the result of the extraordinary turn which the matter has
now taken is briefly this. In the first place, we are sure that Rachel
has told you the whole truth, as plainly as words can tell it.
In the second place--though we know that there must be some dreadful
mistake somewhere--we can hardly blame her for believing you to be guilty,
on the evidence of her own senses; backed, as that evidence has been,
by circumstances which appear, on the face of them, to tell dead