The Master of the Priory

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Authors: Annie Haynes
said abruptly.
    Elizabeth did not move, not a muscle in her face stirred.
    â€œWhy not? Am I not in every way satisfactory? Has not Lady Davenant told you what a jewel of a governess she has secured? One with the highest references from her friend, Mrs. Sunningdale?” There was an indescribable bitterness in her tone.
    Frank Carlyn’s boyish face was downcast, his eyes sank before those of the woman opposite.
    â€œOf course I have heard it,” he burst out. “It seems to me that I have heard nothing else since I came here, but don’t you see that all this makes it impossible for you to stop here?”
    â€œAll what?” There was no meekness in the governess’s attitude now, her tone was both passionate and imperious.
    Young Carlyn groaned aloud.
    â€œYou must know—you must understand that I can’t keep silence when I know—the Davenants are Barbara’s friends—”
    â€œI think I do understand now,” Elizabeth spoke in a dangerously quiet tone; she took off her glasses and threw them on the little rustic table beside her. “I am not good enough to be governess to Miss Burford’s friend; but you—you are good enough to marry Miss Burford.”
    The scorn in her tone made the man wince as though he had been lashed.
    There was a momentary silence, Elizabeth watching his changes of expression contemptuously. At last he spoke, and his tone was curiously changed:
    â€œHeaven knows I don’t want to minimize my share in the matter. If the worst had happened I should have spoken out, I should have—”
    â€œYou would have been very brave, doubtless,” Elizabeth interrupted him mercilessly. “But, as matters stood, you choose the easier path. I congratulate you on your wisdom, Mr. Carlyn.”
    Frank Carlyn passed his hand over his forehead. He thought wearily that never before had man been placed in so horrible a dilemma. He had thought, as they drove to the Priory, that his duty was clear here, there could be no doubt about it. But here, looking at the woman’s white face, at her blazing eyes, it seemed quite a different matter.
    â€œI don’t know what I ought to do,” he capitulated weakly. “But I am sure, Mrs.—”
    â€œHush!” Elizabeth interrupted him sharply. “Not that. Never that name again. Remember that even the trees and bushes have ears sometimes. I will tell you what you must do, Mr. Carlyn. You must go your way and leave me to go mine. Believe me, I shall not hurt the Davenants, or Maisie, and you—you can marry Miss Burford and forget all about me.”
    â€œThat is so likely, is it not?” young Carlyn questioned moodily. “You don’t know how the thought of that past day has haunted me ever since.” He kicked a loose stone about carelessly, apparently watching that and not Elizabeth. “I couldn’t imagine how you had got away. I thought—feared that some evil had befallen you.”
    â€œThat I was dead, you mean?” Elizabeth said bitterly. “No, I was not so happy. I got out at the next station and by walking across country got on to another line, then I reached a friend and was safe. It isn’t so difficult to escape the police as you think, Mr. Carlyn. And I couldn’t stay to face things out. There were people”—she put up her hands to her throat as if the simple collar were about to choke her—“living then that it would have killed—”
    â€œYou couldn’t have been blamed,” Frank Carlyn began hotly.
    â€œNo?” Elizabeth laughed bitterly. “Yet I am not good enough to teach little Maisie. You are not very logical, Mr. Carlyn.”
    The man’s face altered indefinably. “That seems quite different,” he muttered sullenly. “And Davenant is such a good chap.”
    Elizabeth drew her shrouding cloak closely round her once more.
    â€œOh, yes, I quite appreciate your

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