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“Morrison!” she whispered in an appalled tone. “Morrison!” Her head drooped. Unable to see her features, Heyst could tell from her voice that for some reason or other she was profoundly moved by the syllables of that unromantic name. A thought flashed through his head—could she have known Morrison P But the mere difference of their origins made it wildly improbable. “This is very extraordinary!” he said. “Have you ever heard the name before ?” Her head moved quickly several times in tiny affirmative nods, as if she could not trust herself to speak. She was biting her lower lip. “Did you ever know anybody of that name P” he asked. The girl answered by a negative sign; and then at last she spoke, jerkily, as if forcing herself against some doubt or fear. She had heard of that very man, she told Heyst. “Impossible !” he said positively. “You are mistaken. You couldn’t have heard of him. It’s—” He stopped short, with the thought that to talk like this was perfectly useless; that one doesn’t argue against thin air. “But I did hear of him; only I didn't know then, I couldn’t guess, that it was your partner they were talking about.”

“Talking about my partner?” repeated Heyst slowly. “No.” Her mind seemed almost as bewildered, as full of incredulity, as his. “No. They were talking of you, really; only I didn't know it.” “Who were they 2” Heyst raised his voice. “Who was talking of me? Talking where 2" With the first question he had lifted himself from his reclining position; at the last he was on his knees before her, their heads on a level. “Why, in that town, in that hotel. Where else could it have been P” she said. The idea of being talked about was always novel to Heyst's simplified conception of himself. For a moment he was as much surprised as if he had believed himself to be a mere gliding shadow among men. Besides, he had in him a half-unconscious notion that he was above the level of island gossip. “But you said first that it was of Morrison they talked,” he remarked to the girl, sinking on his heels, and no longer much interested. “Strange that you should have the opportunity to hear any talk at all! I was rather under the impression that you never saw anybody belonging to the town except from the platform.” “You forget that I was not living with the other girls,” she said, “After meals they used to go back to the Pavilion, but I had to stay in the hotel and do my sewing, or what not, in the room where they talked.” “I didn't think of that. By the by, you never told me who they were.” “Why, that horrible red-face beast,” she said, with all the energy of disgust which the mere thought of the hotel-keeper provoked in her. “Oh, Schomberg!” Heyst murmured carelessly. “He talked to the boss—to Zangiacomo, I mean. I had to sit there. That devil-woman sometimes wouldn’t let me go away. I mean Mrs. ZangiaComo.” “I guessed,” murmured Heyst. “She liked to torment you in a variety of ways. But it is really strange that the hotel-keeper should talk of Morrison to Zangiacomo. As far as I can remember he saw very little of Morrison professionally. He knew many others much better.” The girl shuddered slightly. “That was the only name I ever overheard. I would get as far away from them as I could, to the other end of the room; but when that beast started shouting, I could not help hearing. I wish I had never heard anything. If I had got up and gone out of the room I don’t suppose the woman would have killed me for it; but she would have rowed me in a nasty way. She would have threatened me and called me names. That sort, when they know you are helpless, there's nothing to stop them. I don't know how it is, but bad people, real bad people that you can see are bad, they get over me somehow. It’s the way they set about downing one. I am afraid of wickedness.” Heyst watched the changing expressions of her face. He encouraged her, profoundly sympathetic, a little amused. “I quite understand. You needn't apologise for your great delicacy in the perception of inhuman evil. I am a little like you.” “I am not very plucky,” she said. “Well! I don't know myself what I would do, what countenance I would have before a creature which would strike me as being the evil incarnate. Don't you be ashamed.” She sighed, looked up with her pale, candid gaze and a timid expression of her face, and murmured: “You don’t seem to want to know what he was saying.” “About poor Morrison 2 It couldn't have been anything bad, for the poor fellow was innocence itself. And then, you know, he is dead, and nothing can possibly matter to him now.” • “But I tell you that it was of you he was talking!” she cried. “He was saying that Morrison's partner first got all there was to get out of him, and then, and then—well, as good as murdered him—sent him out to die somewhere!” “You believed that of me?” said Heyst, after a moment of perfect silence. “I didn’t know it had anything to do with you. Schomberg was talking of some Swede. How was I to know 2 It was only when you began telling me about how you came here—” “And now you have my version.” Heyst forced himself to speak quietly. “So that’s how the business looked from outside!” he muttered. “I remember him saying that everybody in these parts knew the story,” the girl added breathlessly. “Strange that it should hurt me!” mused Heyst to himself; “yet it does. I seem to be as much of a fool as those everybodies who know the story—and no doubt believe it. Can you remember any more ?” he addressed the girl in a grimly polite tone. “I’ve often heard of the moral advantages of seeing oneself as others see one. Let us investigate further. Can't you recall something else that everybody knows P” “Oh! Don't laugh!” she cried. “Did I laugh? I was not aware of it. I won't ask you whether you believe the hotel-keeper's version. Surely you know the value of human judgment.”

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