"Because, once married to Lord Airlie, I shall have no fear. Three or four weeks of happiness are not so much to give up for your own sister, Lily. I will say no more. I leave it for you to decide."
"Nay, do not do that," said Lillian, in great distress. "I could not clear myself at your expense"--a fact which Beatrice understood perfectly well.
"Then let the matter rest," said her sister; "some day I shall be able to thank you for all you have done for me--I can not now. On my wedding day I will tell Lionel Dacre that the girl he loves is the truest, the noblest, the dearest in the world."
"It is against my better judgment," returned Lillian.
"It is against my conscience, judgment, love, everything," added Beatrice; "but it will save me from cruel ruin and sorrow; and it shall not hurt you, Lily--it shall bring you good, not harm. Now, try to forget it. He will not know how to atone to you for this. Think of your happiness when he returns."
She drew the golden head down upon her shoulder, and with the charm that never failed, she talked and caressed her sister until she had overcome all objections.
But during the long hours of that night a fair head tossed wearily to and fro on its pillow--a fair face was stained with bitter tears. Lionel Dacre lingered, half hoping that even at the last she would come and bid him stay because she wished to tell him all.
But the last moment came, and no messenger from Lillian brought the longed-for words. He passed out from the Hall. He could not refrain from looking once at the window of her room, but the blind was closely drawn. He little knew or dreamed how and why he would return.