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A Dark Night's Work Elizabeth Gaskell

Chapter XVI

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"This will never be made public?" said she.

"No; I shall take care that no one but the Home Secretary sees it."

"Thank you. I could not help it, now it has come to this."

"There are not many men like Dixon," said the judge, almost to himself, as he sealed the paper in an envelope.

"No," said Ellinor; "I never knew any one so faithful."

And just at the same moment the reflection on a less faithful person that these words might seem to imply struck both of them, and each instinctively glanced at the other.

"Ellinor!" said the judge, after a moment's pause, "we are friends, I hope?"

"Yes; friends," said she, quietly and sadly.

He felt a little chagrined at her answer. Why, he could hardly tell. To cover any sign of his feeling he went on talking.

"Where are you living now?"

"At East Chester."

"But you come sometimes to town, don't you? Let us know always-- whenever you come; and Lady Corbet shall call on you. Indeed, I wish you'd let me bring her to see you to-day."

"Thank you. I am going straight back to Hellingford; at least, as soon as you can get me the pardon for Dixon."

He half smiled at her ignorance.

"The pardon must be sent to the sheriff, who holds the warrant for his execution. But, of course, you may have every assurance that it shall be sent as soon as possible. It is just the same as if he had it now."

"Thank you very much," said Ellinor rising.

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"Pray don't go without breakfast. If you would rather not see Lady Corbet just now, it shall be sent in to you in this room, unless you have already breakfasted."

"No, thank you; I would rather not. You are very kind, and I am very glad to have seen you once again. There is just one thing more," said she, colouring a little and hesitating. "This note to you was found under papa's pillow after his death; some of it refers to past things; but I should be glad if you could think as kindly as you can of poor papa--and so--if you will read it--"

He took it and read it, not without emotion. Then he laid it down on his table, and said -

"Poor man! he must have suffered a great deal for that night's work. And you, Ellinor, you have suffered, too."

Yes, she had suffered; and he who spoke had been one of the instruments of her suffering, although he seemed forgetful of it. She shook her head a little for reply. Then she looked up at him-- they were both standing at the time--and said:

"I think I shall be happier now. I always knew it must be found out. Once more, good-by, and thank you. I may take this letter, I suppose?" said she, casting envious loving eyes at her father's note, lying unregarded on the table.

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A Dark Night's Work
Elizabeth Gaskell

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