The door of the house stood wide. The afternoon radiance gilded the emerald veil of willows, shot back in fire from the unshuttered windows, rifled the last syringas of their inmost fragrance. Vance, even through his perturbation, felt again the spell of the old house. nike dunk heels low That door had first admitted him into the illimitable windings of the Past; and as he approached the magic threshold compunction and anger vanishedOh, Vance!” he heard Miss Spear exclaim. He caught in her rich voice a mingling of reproach and apology — yes, apology. She was atoning already — for what? — but she was also challenging.I knew you’d come.” She put her hand on his arm with her light coercive touch.Our cousin Mr. Tom Lorburn is here — he arrived unexpectedly on Sunday to see the Willows. It’s years and years since he’s been here A surprise visit,” came a voice, an old cracked fluty voice, querulous and distinguished, from the drawing room.And I WAS surprised. But perhaps you’ll bring the young man in here, Halo. Whatever you have to say to him may as well be said in my presence, since I am here . . .” The little tirade ended almost in a wail, as the speaker, drooping in the doorway, looked down on Vance from the vantage of his narrow shoulders and lean brown throat. Vance looked up, returning the gaze. He had hardly ever seen anyone as tall as Mr. Lorburn, and no one, ever, as plaintively and unhappily handsome. A chronic distress was written on the narrow beautiful face condescending to his, with its perfectly arched nose, and the sensitive lips under a carefully trimmed white moustache; and the distress was repeated in the droop of Mr. Lorburn’s shoulders under their easily fitting homespun, in the hollowing of his chest, and the clutch of his long expressive brown hand (so like Mrs. Spear’s) on the bamboo stick which supported himSince unhappily I AM here,” Mr. Lorburn repeated. Miss Spear met this with a little laugh.Oh, Cousin Tom — cheap nike dunk high heels why unhappily? After all, since you’ve come, it was just as well you should arrive when we were all napping.” Mr. Lorburn bent his grieved eyes upon her.Just as wellThat you should know the worstAh, THAT we never know, my child; there’s always something worse behind the worst .” Mr. Lorburn, shaking his head, turned back slowly through the drawing room.There’s my health, to begin with, which no one but myself ever appears to think of. A shock of this kind, in this heat . . Well, here’s Vance Weston, who has come, as I knew he would, to clear things up.” Mr. Lorburn considered Vance again in the light of this fresh introduction.I should be glad if he could do that,” he saidThen,” said Miss Spear briskly,let’s begin by transporting ourselves to the scene of the crime, as they say in the French law reports.” She slipped her arm in Mr. Lorburn’s, and led him through the two drawing rooms, his long wavering stride steadied by her firm tread. Vance followed, wondering. In the library the shutters were open, and the western sun streamed in on the scene of disorder which Vance had left so lightheartedly three days before. He wondered at his own callousness. In the glare of the summer light the room looked devastated, dishonoured; and the long grave face of Miss Elinor Lorburn, with its chalky highlights on brow and lappets, seemed to appeal to her cousin and heir for redress.See how they have profaned my solitude — that, at least, my family always respected!” Mr. Lorburn let himself down by cautious nike heels degrees into the Gothic armchair.At least,” he echoed, as if answering the look,if I never came here, I gave strict orders that nothing should be touched that everything should remain absolutely as she left it.” The words were dreadful to Vance. His eyes followed Mr. Lorburn’s about the room, resting on the books pitched down on chairs and tables, on the gaping spaces of the shelves, and the lines of volumes which had collapsed for lack of support. Then he looked at the cigarette ashes which Lorry Spear had scattered irreverently on the velvet table cover, and his gaze turned back to Mr. Lorburn’s scandalized countenance. He felt too crushed to speak. But Miss Spear spoke for him: Now, Cousin Tom, that all sounds very pretty; but just consider what would have happened if we’d obeyed you literally. The place would have been a foot deep in dust. Everything in it would have been ruined; and if the house hadn’t been regularly aired your precious books would have been covered with green mould. So what’s the use Vance lifted his head eagerly, reassured by her voice.The books did need cleaning,” he said.But I was wrong not to put them back after I’d wiped them, the way you told me to. Fact is, I’d never had a chance at real books before, and I got reading, and forgot everything .” He looked at Miss Spear.I’m sorry,” he said. Mr. Lorburn, leaning on his stick, emitted a faint groan.The young man, as he says himself, appears to have forgotten everything — even to return the books he has taken from here.” Again Mrs. Tracy’s accusation! Vance turned his eyes on Miss Spear; but to his bewilderment her eloquence seemed to fail her. She met his glance, but only for a moment; then hers was averted. At last she said in a low voice:I’m sure he’ll tell you the books are at Mrs. Tracy’s that he took them away to finish reading something that interested him without realising their value I’m waiting to hear what he has to tell me,” Mr. Lorburn rejoined.But I must remind you, Halo, that, according to your own statement, Mrs. Tracy has looked everywhere for the books, and been forced to the conclusion — as you were — that when the young man disappeared from her house he took them with him. Perhaps he will now say if he has been obliging enough to bring them back.” Mr. Lorburn revolved his small head on his long thin neck and fixed his eyes on Vance. Vance felt the muscles of his face contracting. His lips were so stiff that he could hardly move them. These people were suggesting that he had taken away books from the Willows — valuable books! This Mr. Lorburn, apparently, was almost accusing him of having stolen them! What else could he mean by the phraseWhen he disappeared from Mrs. Tracy’s he took them with him”? Vance felt as defenceless as a little boy against whom a schoolmate had trumped up a lying charge; in his first bewilderment he did not know what to say, or what tone to take. Then his anger rushed to his lipsWhat’s this about taking books away and disappearing? I never disappeared. I went with Upton to a ball game.” He felt himself redden at the memory.I never took a single book away from here, not one.” Miss Spear interrupted eagerly:I told you nike high heels uk so, Cousin Tom I was sure .” Mr. Lorburn leaned more heavily on his stick.Where are they then Her head drooped, and she turned from him with an appealing gesture.Vance? What books Vance asked again. Mr. Lorburn drew himself to his feet and began to move across the room with shaking sideway steps, his stick pointed first at one shelf, then at another. As he did so he reeled off a succession of long titles, all too unfamiliar to Vance for his ear to hold them. He heardrare Americana,” and did not know if it were the name of a book or a reference to some literary category he had never met with. At last he said:I never even heard of the names of any of those books. Why on earth should I have taken themNever heard of them Mr. Lorburn spluttered.Then some accomplished bibliophile must have given you a list.” He looked pale and gasping, like a fish agonizing for water.Oh, my heart — I should never have let myself to be drawn into this.” Sitting down again, he closed his lids and leaned his head against the knobby carving of the armchair  
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