rather pleased than otherwise, to see her: first, because she was Cynthia's aunt; secondly, because she was an attractive-looking woman.
"I have come to have a chat with you," she began—with a directness she was capable of when it appeared expedient; "you won't think me a bore?" She smiled at him with her large brown eyes. "Let us walk down this path," she continued, "we can talk better." With one hand she caught up her silk skirt: she laid the other—covered in light grey kid—very lightly on his arm. The movement was perfectly spontaneous, and probably the nearest approach to a motherly caress she could think of. She had never felt so nearly sorry for any one in her life as she did for him. "He reminds me more than ever of Talbot!" she sighed to herself.
"I am coming straight to the point," she said, "because I know you like candour. I want to tell you—you will forgive me, I know—I want to tell you that you are growing too fond of my niece. Pray don't look so distressed. I am sorry to have to say it—it is so difficult to put these things—you know what I mean. I don't think you ever tried to disguise your admiration for her—there has been no necessity for anything of the kind. If I have misunderstood you, however, you will tell me so."
Provence, who had at first turned red, was now very pale.
"You are quite right," he said, proudly. "I have not tried to disguise my feelings—it may be I could not. But I have not been foolish enough to hope that—that Miss Heathcote had the smallest interest in me—if that is what you mean."