Suddenly her expression changed from desultory enjoyment to active conjecture, and she turned to Selden with a question.
The packet in Mrs. Haffen’s hand doubtless contained more letters of the same kind—a dozen, Lily conjectured from its thickness.
Could one never do the simplest, the most harmless thing, without subjecting one’s self to some odious conjecture?
She felt herself in the presence of something vile, as yet but dimly conjectured—the kind of vileness of which people whispered, but which she had never thought of as touching her own life.
Now the other side presented itself to Lily, the volcanic nether side of the surface over which conjecture and innuendo glide so lightly till the first fissure turns their whisper to a shriek.
But to return to Lily—and again and again he returned, questioning, conjecturing, leading Gerty on, draining her inmost thoughts of their stored tenderness for her friend.
It was enough that the servants knew her to be in the house with Trenor—there must be nothing to excite conjecture in her way of leaving it.
Lily, still lost in conjecture, made no reply, and Mrs. Dorset settled herself indolently in her seat.
The message necessarily left large gaps for conjecture; but all that he had recently heard and seen made these but too easy to fill in.
She had first imagined some physical shock, some peril of the crowded streets, since Lily was presumably on her way home from Carry Fisher’s; but she now saw that other nerve-centres were smitten, and her mind trembled back from conjecture.
And the power to make him so lay in her hand—lay there in a completeness he could not even remotely conjecture.
The only hope of renewal lay in the little bottle at her bed-side; and how much longer that hope would last she dared not conjecture.
In the words preceding it she had conjectured, at most, an allusion to her supposed influence over George Dorset; nor did the astonishing indelicacy of the reference diminish the likelihood of Rosedale’s resorting to it.
The burden of offence lying manifestly with Mrs. Dorset, this conjecture seemed on the face of it gratuitously unkind; but Selden knew that in the most one-sided matrimonial quarrel there are generally counter-charges to be brought, and that they are brought with the greater audacity where the original grievance is so emphatic.
He noticed the other faces, vague with fear and conjecture—he saw the landlady’s imposing bulk sway professionally toward him; but he shrank back, putting up his hand, while his eyes mechanically mounted the steep black walnut stairs, up which he was immediately aware that his cousin was about to lead him.
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She dismissed it as mere conjecture.
It is important to distinguish between conjecture and fact.