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crossing himself repeatedly as we passed the
joss-house), for I am very hungry and want
my breakfast!



THE next morning wrought no change in
the resolution at which Uncle Joseph had
arrived overnight. Out of the amazement
and confusion produced in his mind by his
niece's avowal of the object that had brought
her to Cornwall, he had contrived to extract
one clear and definite conclusionthat she
was obstinately bent on placing herself in a
situation of uncertainty, if not of absolute
peril. Once persuaded of this, his kindly
instincts all sprang into action, his natural
firmness on the side of self-sacrifice asserted
itself, and his determination not to let Sarah
proceed on her journey alone, followed as
a matter of course. In that determination
he took refuge from the doubt, the perplexity,
the vague uneasiness and alarm which her
looks, her language, and her conduct had
caused in him. Strong in the self-denying
generosity of his purposethough strong
in nothing elsewhen he and his niece
met in the morning, and when Sarah
spoke self-reproachfully of the sacrifice that
he was making, of the serious hazards to
which he was exposing himself for her sake,
he refused to listen to her just as obstinately
as he had refused the previous night. There
was no need, he said, to speak another word
on that subject. If she had abandoned her
intention of going to Porthgenna, she had
only to say so. If she had not, it was mere
waste of breath to talk any more, for he was
deaf in both ears to everything in the shape
of a remonstrance that she could possibly
address to him. Having expressed himself
in these uncompromising terms, Uncle Joseph
abruptly dismissed the subject, and tried to
turn the conversation to a cheerful everyday
topic, by asking his niece how she had
passed the night.

"I was too anxious to sleep," she answered.
"I can't fight with my fears and misgivings
as some people can. All night long they
keep me waking and thinking as if it was

"Thinking about what?" asked Uncle
Joseph. "About the letter that is hidden?
about the house of Porthgenna? about the
Myrtle Room?"

"About how to get into the Myrtle Room."
she said. "The more I try to plan and
ponder, and settle beforehand what I shall do,
the more confused and helpless I seem to be.
All last night, uncle, I was trying to think of
some excuse for getting inside the doors at
Porthgenna Towerand yet, if I was standing
on the house-step at this moment, I
should not know what to say when the servant
and I first came face to face. How are
we to persuade them to let us in? How am
I to slip out of sight, even if we do get in?
Can't you tell me? you will try, Uncle
JosephI am sure you will try? Only help
me so far, and I think I can answer for the
rest. If they keep the keys where they used
to keep them in my time, ten minutes to
myself is all I should wantten minutes, only
ten short minutes, to make the end of my life
easier to me than the beginning has been; to
help me to grow old quietly and resignedly,
if it is God's will that I should live out my
years. O, how happy people must be who
have all the courage they want; who are
quick and clever, and have their wits about
them! You are readier than I am, uncle;
you said last night that you would think
about how to advise me for the bestwhat
did your thoughts end in? You will make
me so much easier if you will only tell me

Uncle Joseph nodded assentingly, assumed
a look of the profoundest gravity, and
slowly laid his fore-finger along the side of
his nose.

"What did I promise you last night?" he
said. "Was it not to take my pipe and ask
him to make me think? Good. I smoke
three pipes, and think three thoughts. My
first thought isWait! My second
thought is againWait! My third thought is
yet once moreWait! You say you will
be easy, Sarah, if I tell you the end of all my
thoughts. Good. I have told you. There
is the endyou are easyit is all right."

"Wait?" repeated Sarah, with a look of
bewilderment which suggested anything
rather than a mind at ease. "I am afraid,
uncle, I don't quite understand. Wait for
what? Wait till when?"

"Wait till we arrive at the house, to be
sure! Wait till we are got outside the door;
then is time enough to think how we are to
get in," said Uncle Joseph, with an air of
conviction. "You understand now?"

"Yes at least I understand better than I
did. But, there is still another difficulty
left. Uncle! I must tell you more than I
intended ever to tell anybodyI must tell
you that the letter is locked up."

"Locked up in a room?"

"Worse than thatlocked up in something
inside the room. The key that opens the
dooreven if I get itthe key that opens the
door of the room is not all I want. There is
another key besides that, a little key——"
She stopped, with a confused, startled look.

"A little key that you have lost?" asked
Uncle Joseph.

"I threw it down the well in the village,
on the morning when I made my escape
from Porthgenna. Oh, if I had only kept it
about me! If it had only crossed my mind
that I might want it again!"

"Well, well; there is no help for that
now. Tell me, Sarah, what the something is
which the letter is hidden in."