"Why? Missy, I ask you, would it have been right for me, who love you, to overshadow your young life by telling you of the murder of your father, of the rascality of Alpenny, and of the terrible position in which Mr. Paslow was placed?" Durban spoke vehemently, and with the very greatest earnestness.
"I am not a child," said Beatrice. "I should have been told."
"You were a child for a long time, and I loved you," said Durban with exquisite sadness. "I wished to keep you in ignorance of the evil that surrounded you. I wished you to marry Mr. Paslow, and go away, never to learn what the evil was. But, I knew--for I learned it from Major Ruck, who wished to marry you and get the Obi necklace--that Mr. Paslow had married Maud Orchard (or Maud Carr, as she calls herself in town). When she died--or pretended to die--I thought that all would be well, and so kept silence. But you were determined to search out these matters for yourself. doing so, as I thought that perhaps you were the chosen instrument to put all right. Since, unaided, you have found out so much, I think you are that instrument, so I am now going to make much plain, which has hitherto puzzled you."
Beatrice crossed her feet and hands. "I shall be glad to hear what you have to say," she said coldly.
"Ah, missy, do not be angry," said Durban caressingly; "it was love that made me keep you in the dark."
He was so genuinely moved that a large tear rolled down his dark face, and a profound emotion stirred him to the depths of his being. Beatrice was annoyed at the way in which she had been treated, but she was just enough to recognise that the man had kept silence out of pure affection. Impulsively stretching out her hand, she caught his, which hung listlessly by his side, and shook it heartily. "I believe you love me, Durban, and that you acted for the best."
"Hush! Be quiet, and tell me what you know."
Durban wiped his face with the duster which he carried, and, leaning against the door, spoke slowly and to the point. Indeed, he seemed glad that after his years of silence he was at last able to confess freely, and to a sympathetic listener.
"I was born in the West Indies, missy," he said, "and knew your mother and father----"
"You told me that you were born on my mother's estate. Begin from the time you came to Convent Grange."