The tea was brought in before Emily could reply. She filled the cups, and sighed as she looked at the cake. "If Cecilia was here, how she would enjoy it!" With that complimentary tribute to her friend, she handed a slice to Alban. He never even noticed it.
"We have both of us behaved most unkindly to Mrs. Rook," she resumed. "I can excuse your not seeing it; for I should not have seen it either, but for the newspaper. While I was reading, I had an opportunity of thinking over what we said and did, when the poor woman's behavior so needlessly offended us. I was too excited to think, at the time--and, besides, I had been upset, only the night before, by what Miss Jethro said to me."
Alban started. "What has Miss Jethro to do with it?" he asked.
"Nothing at all," Emily answered. "She spoke to me of her own private affairs. A long story--and you wouldn't be interested in it. Let me finish what I had to say. Mrs. Rook was naturally reminded of the murder, when she heard that my name was Brown; and she must certainly have been struck--as I was--by the coincidence of my father's death taking place at the same time when his unfortunate namesake was killed. Doesn't this sufficiently account for her agitation when she looked at the locket? We first took her by surprise: and then we suspected her of Heaven knows what, because the poor creature didn't happen to have her wits about her, and to remember at the right moment what a very common name 'James Brown' is. Don't you see it as I do?"
"I see that you have arrived at a remarkable change of opinion, since we spoke of the subject in the garden at school."
"In my place, you would have changed your opinion too. I shall write to Mrs. Rook by tomorrow's post."
Alban heard her with dismay. "Pray be guided by my advice!" he said earnestly. "Pray don't write that letter!"
It was too late to recall the words which he had rashly allowed to escape him. How could he reply?