ask the housekeeper to supply us with a plain statement of events, in the interests of truth. While we were waiting for the answer, which reached us in a week's time, I went to the doctor in St. John's Wood; introducing myself as sent by Miss Halcombe, to collect, if possible, more particulars of her sister's last illness than Mr. Kyrle had found the time to procure. By Mr. Goodricke's assistance, I obtained a copy of the certificate of death, and an interview with the woman (Jane Gould) who had been employed to prepare the body for the grave. Through this person, I also discovered a means of communicating with the servant, Hester Pinhorn. She had recently left her place, in consequence of a disagreement with her mistress; and she was lodging with some people in the neighbourhood whom Mrs. Gould knew. In the manner here indicated, I obtained the Narratives of the housekeeper, of the doctor, of Jane Gould, and of Hester Pinhorn, exactly as they are presented in these pages.
Furnished with such additional evidence as these documents afforded, I considered myself to be sufficiently prepared for a consultation with Mr. Kyrle; and Marian wrote accordingly to mention my name to him, and to specify the day and hour at which I requested to see him on private business.
There was time enough, in the morning, for me to take Laura out for her walk as usual, and to see her quietly settled at her drawing afterwards. She looked up at me with a new anxiety in her face, as I rose to leave the room; and her fingers began to toy doubtfully, in the old way, with the brushes and pencils on the table.
"You are not tired of me yet?" she said. "You are not going away because you are tired of me? I will try to do better—I will try to get well. Are you as fond of me, Walter, as you used to be, now I am so pale and thin, and so slow in learning to draw?"
She spoke as a child might have spoken; she showed me her thoughts as a child might have shown them. I waited a few minutes longer—waited to tell her that she was dearer to me now than she had ever been in the past times. "Try to get well again," I said, encouraging the new hope in the future which I saw dawning in her mind; "try to get well again, for Marian's sake and for mine."
"Yes," she said to herself, returning to her drawing. "I must try, because they are both so fond of me." She suddenly looked up again. "Don't be gone long! I can't get on with my drawing, Walter, when you are not here to help me."