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“Would you be less angry if I told you (stoop down your head) that I have been in Gehenna all the evening, and that I think him a greater bore than ever ?"

The next lamp-post that we pass reveals the white hand nestling in its owner's.



“I really

“If there is a thing in all this wide world that gives me the horrors," says Sylvia, with a little shudder, “it is mutton dressed lamb fashion. I know my temptation lies in quite the other direction, to make a grandmother of myself!"

This is at luncheon, on the day succeeding the Dumb Scrambo; the friendly criticisms on the entertainment and the entertainers are being renewed and carried on with a spirit hardly less piquant than the sorrel sauce that is flavouring the interlocutors' cutlets.

“Poor Harriet Webster! a white book-muslin frock-one can call it nothing else—and a pink sash, low, too, nowadays, when no one thinks of being décolleté except at a ball !"

“She only wanted a rattle, and to have her sleeves tied up with coral, to be the complete infant,” says Lenore, laughing maliciously. “If she had thought of it, Mr. Scrope, you might have carried her in last night instead of her brother; she would have been several stone lighter.”

“And the way she kept hoisting up those wretched little shoulders, too, to her ears," says Jemima, putting in her oar. trembled for the string of her tucker. I wonder her brother does not remonstrate !"

“ Pooh !" cries Lenore, carelessly, “I do not suppose that he knows whether she has any shoulders or any tucker either-brothers never do!” A little pause while the first sharpness of hunger is appeased; then Lenore recommences : “What bushy black brows your lady had, Paul.

Poor fellow! I did pity you; and they met so amicably in a tuft on the top of her Roman nose.”

I did not think much of Miss Jemima's friend,” says Scrope, laughing; "he looked as if he had been run up by contract-hands like feet, and feet like fire-shovels."

“And his wife ?” says Jemima ; " did you see her ? No?–a little bunchy thing, who never says anything but 'Fancy !' and if you are very intimate with her, Just fancy!'

“Men like her, I cannot imagine why,” says Sylvia, languidly, “she has a way of looking down her nose."

“ Paul, why don't you speak ?" cries Lenore, with a pout; "we have all said something clever; it is quite your turn!"

“Is it?” says Paul, lazily. “Mine is a long time hatching; it will come presently; but, you see, you do not know any of my best friends; so it will lose all its point, I am afraid.”

“I am sure we have not said anything that was not perfectly goodnatured,” says Sylvia, with an air of injured innocence; "and as to that, I have no doubt we are quite quits; I dare say they have made quite as many comments on us—not that they can say we are décolleté-as we have on them.”

A diversion is here effected by the depravity of Tommy, who, being dissatisfied with his dinner, insists on saying, “Thank God for my nasty pudding !" instead of the authorized form of thanksgiving. He is instantly degraded from his high chair, and borne off wriggling like an eel, and kicking the footman's shins.

“Let us go out,” says Lenore, laying her hand on her lover's coat sleeves, as she passes out of the dining-room. “Let us go into the wood! I love a wood in winter! I love kicking the dead leaves ! If you are good you shall kick them, too !" Five minutes later she has joined him as he stands in the wintry garden puffing at his pipe. “Wait a minute!" she cries, her eyes flashing gleefully; " look at the children going out walking; did you ever see any thing so becomfortered and be-gartered? I must run and knock their hats over their eyes!"

She springs away from his side, and in two seconds is back again. “It is such fun !” she says, breathlessly; "it makes them hate one so !"

And now they are in the wood ; above them the high brown boughs meet in wintry wedlock; each little fine twig, no longer hid by leafage, asserts itself, standing delicately out against the softlytravelling, sad-coloured clouds beyond. Underneath all the trees dead children lie heaped; there is no wind to stir them. There they lie ! one can hardly tell one from another now—the horse-chestnut's broad fan from the beech's pointed oval-massed together in one bronze-coloured death. They are over Lenore's ankles as, with all the delight of a child, she ploughs through them, kicking them up, laughing, and insisting that her lover shall kick them too.

• What a good smell they have when one stirs them up,” she cries, something half-pungent! Smell, Paul, smell!” Paul obeys, and stands docilely inhaling the autumnal odour.

“And now," she says, clasping her two hands round his arm, leaning a very considerable weight upon him as they again pace slowly onwards, “ talk a great deal. I seem hardly to have heard your real voice yet; yesterday was all church and plum-pudding and scolding, and to-day we have done nothing but dissect the Websters; talk! talk! talk!"

“How can I talk ?” he says, laughing ; "you will not let me get a word in edgeways."

“ Tell me all about everything," she says, comprehensively. “Begin

“Do you

your father?

at the beginning, like a story—at the very moment you stepped off the Dinan boat-letters go for nothing. Were you very sea-sick? I believe you were, though you would not own it.”

“Frightfully, since you insist upon it,” replies Le Mesurier, with a mendacious smile. I lay on deck on the small of my back, with a livid face, praying for shipwreck—that is the right feeling, is not it ? --while, to add to my sufferings, everybody kept stumbling over my legs."

“And when you got home,” continues the girl, eagerly, taking this statement for what it is worth, “ were they all very glad to see you ? Did they all rush out to the door to meet you ?" .

“The butler came out, I believe; I do not think that even he ran; certainly no one else did.”

And when they saw you” (speaking very rapidly), “how did they look? Did they look odd? What did they say to you ?"

“Oh, I don't know ; much the same as they always say-nothing different-why should they? they did not know anything then ; they said, “Oh, here you are !' or something equally brilliant; and my father said, 'For God's sake, do not touch me! I have got it in both hands. He meant the gout.”

"And then you kissed them all,” says Lenore, a little envious at this part of the programme.


Some grown-up men do."

“Do they?" replies Paul, grimly. “How very unpleasant for both parties! No; I do not, certainly.”

“ And—and was there no one there besides just your own peoplejust your father and sisters?” asks Lenore, with wily suavity.

“My cousin, of course ?” (with a tone of airy nonchalance).

"And” (laughing not quite so easily as before)—“and what was she doing ?”

“My dear soul” (with slight symptoms of impatience), “it is six months ago; how the mischief can I remember ?”—then, seeing her countenance fall a little —"stitching, I fancy; making a flannel petticoat for some old woman.”

“Which she ostentatiously thrust into a cupboard the moment you appeared,” says Lenore, sarcastically, turning down the little red corners of her mouth

' Did good by stealth, and blushed to find it fame.” Paul lets this thrust pass in silence. “And did you bring me on the tapis that night, or did you keep me . till next morning ?” (looking anxiously up in his face).

“I kept you for several days,” he answers, smiling—"very much against my will, I can tell you; but I knew that as long as it remained in his hands, there was no use brcaching the subject.”

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“But the girls had not the gout !--you told them, did not you

?" (with great animation).

Paul looks down, and his expression is embarrassed.
Yes,” he says, slowly, "I did.”
“ And showed them my photograph ?”
" Ye-es."

"I hope you told them that my hair was not so dark as it looks there ” (very anxiously). “ Did not they think it pretty? Did not they say what a good figure I must have ?”

“I daresay they would not have thought it polite to make personal remarks about you to me,” Paul answers, looking thoroughly confused; "and they never are girls to say civil things, don't you know ?”

Leonore puts up one dog-skin gloved hand and hides her mouth : it is the mouth that, in its altered and quivering lines, betrays mortification most.

“Did not they--did not they say anything?" she asks, in a blank voice.

“They looked at the name of the photographer on the back,” he answers, with a smile of recollected annoyance, "and said, 'Oh, yes ; he was a good man, they knew.' I remember that, because it made me so savage

!" "And—and your cousin ?—what did she say?" "She was not there.”

“But-but when you told her you were going to be married—what did she say then ?"

“Pshaw!" cries he, impatiently, reddening slightly. “What extraordinary questions you do ask ! What can it matter to you or me either what she said ? She said the-the-usual thing, I suppose (turning his head half away, and viciously knocking a big fungushead off with his stick).

“I do not believe a word of it,” cries Lenore, in a fury. “Why do you hate talking about her ? Why do you always slide away from the subject when I lead to it? You do not look as if you were telling truth? I believe she-she---she-wanted to marry you herself.”

Sometimes the innocent wear the pale livery of guilt, by some ingenious freak of nature. At this audacious statement Paul certainly looks whiter than his wont. You are talking nonsense,” he says, brusquely; "childish, unladylike nonsense,” and so speaking, he drops her arm, and stalks on by himself.

She rustles after him through the dead leaves, half-penitent, halfsuspicious, till they reach a stile that gives egress from the wood into a meadow—a December meadow-a very different matter from one of June's buttercup gardens-a meadow flowerless, grey-coloured, and drenched. There, having overtaken him, she lays a hand on each of his arms. "Why will you insist on rousing my devil ?" she says,

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impulsively. “Do you do it on purpose ? I do not know whether other women have a devil, but I have, I know."

“It is so remarkably easily roused,” he answers, drily.

“There is not a gooder woman in the world than I am sometimes," she continues, naïvely. “Why will not you let me always be ?"

Let you,” he repeats, laughing, a little ironically, but looking down with a mollified expression at her repentant fond face, freshened by the cool moist wind. I am sure I do not know what I do to hinder you; I wish to heaven you would be !"



That evening fate, in the shape of a sleek little widow, wills that we shall have a small dinner-party., We should all have much preferred to have kept to our family circle, and, lcunging in our chairs, have wooed little contraband sleeps, in recollection of our last night's fatigues, and preparation for those of the next. But Sylvia is obdurate. “Say what you please,” she says, pronouncing each word very distinctly. “Call me a prude if you like it will not be the first time--I cannot help it, but it does feel so odd, we three quite young women sitting down and hobnobbing with those two young men; nobody belonging to anybody else, don't you know.”

"I beg to say I do belong to somebody," interrupts Lenore, holding up her head.

“I am sure nobody can feel more kind and sisterly than I do to Paul,” continues Sylvia, with an air of conscious modest merit; “ but still there is no use denying that he is a comparative stranger, and I confess I should like him to see that we have some idea of civilisation."

So to prove our civilisation, we enlarge our little circle by the addition of the three Websters, of a couple of stray marauding girls, and of three diffident foot-soldiers from the Barracks.

“We used to have really nice regiments always," Sylvia says, in apology for these poor young gentlemen, before their arrival, as she stands with one round white elbow leant 'on the mantelpiece, looking up with her large appealing eyes to Paul-Sylvia's eyes have appealed and besought and implored all their life, but what for, nobody ever could make out—"really nice regiments—the Enniskillens, and the 9th Lancers, don't you know; but now we have only those nasty walking things.

Paul laughs: “I like nasty walking things; I was one myself.”

There are no mistakes as to pairing to-day. I, who have no claim upon anybody—I, to whom it is absolutely indifferent who leads me, so that I ultimately reach the savoury haven of dinner, and Mr. Scrope,

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