I saw her walking along the path, her shoulders wilting, quite without the ember I had come to associate with Emma, to expect from her. She had been deceived; had given her affections to a most contemptible young man. A man who had held our confidence, a man who had come amongst us underneath a façade of honour, had betrayed us and had ensnared such a naïve creature.

I had thought him a scoundrel; I had not thought him to be without morals or principals. I was the one who warranted reproach and condemnation; was it not I who was supposed to protect her; to shield her from harm? I was unsuccessful in this endeavour merely because of resentment; that he should acquire my position as her confidant, as her companion, as her advisor.

I had, after all, been her closest protector, collaborator and guide since our first meeting, when she was no more than an infant, in view of this fact I had my duties and as I watched her walk toward me I felt the last vestige of concealment ebb away from me.

She was composed as our eyes met though I could perceive a profound inner disorder. Damnable villain!

She spoke, without her usual joie de vivre, of my journey, of Isabella and the children, of her father and I was careful not to refer to any matters which would distress her any more profoundly.

Looking upon her now it was most difficult not to compare her to little Emma who had grown in haste into her aunt's resemblance; the small features were all in attendance and the child's eyes were overflowing with the same disobedience and intelligence. Emmie, as she was affectionately known to me, would forever more be the favourite of her uncle. I hoped news of their upcoming visit would allow Emma to feel some form of solace despite her obvious pain.

There was a natural pause in conversation and I waited, hoping that, despite my recent behaviour, she would still feel able to confide in me; to unburden her heart.