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She started forward, clenching her hands and staring at him wildly. “Mr. Montague!” she exclaimed.

He did not reply.

There was a long pause. He could hear her breath coming quickly.

“Are you sure?” she whispered.

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“Quite sure,” said he.

Again there was silence.

“I do not know very much about my father's affairs,” she began, at last. “I cannot reply to what you say. It is very dreadful.”

“Please understand me, Miss Hegan,” said he. “I have no right to force such thoughts upon you; and perhaps I have made a mistake—”

“I should have preferred that you should tell me the truth,” she said quickly.

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“I believed that you would,” he answered. “That was why I spoke.”

“Was what he did so very dreadful?” asked the girl, in a low voice.

“I would prefer not to answer,” said he. “I cannot judge your father. I am simply trying to protect myself. I'm afraid of the grip of this world upon me. I have followed the careers of so many men, one after another. They come into it, and it lays hold of them, and before they know it, they become corrupt. What I have seen here in the Metropolis has filled me with dismay, almost with terror. Every fibre of me cries out against it; and I mean to fight it—to fight it all my life. And so I do not care to make terms with it socially. When I have seen a man doing what I believe to be a dreadful wrong, I cannot go to his home, and shake his hand, and smile, and exchange the commonplaces of life with him.”