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was brought in contact. My feelings were surely intelligible enough. Living in the constant sense of this humiliation of neglect, and my mind being largely predisposed to contempt by the sentiments of the Major, I considered everybody to be my natural despiser, and I resolved to repay scorn with scorn.

I bowed with cold indifference to Major Rivers' introduction of Sir Geoffry, and sank back on the sofa within the shadow of the curtain, the better to observe, without being observed, the appearance of the man of whom I had heard the Major occasionally speak.

Sir Geoffry Hamlyn seemed about thirty-five years old. He was tall and slim, with a large nose, and a heavy yellow moustache. The expression of his face did not please me. As his eyes met mine I seemed to find something ominous in their pale lustreless glance-eyes which dissipation might have robbed of their natural light. His thick protruding under lip was a deformity not to be wholly concealed by the moustache carefully combed over his mouth. In his manners however he was very gentlemanly. He had a pleasing voice and spoke with a peculiarly refined accent.

"I have been reproaching my old friend the Major," he said to me, with an easy, high-bred air, too honest, I thought, to be libelled as it was by his face," for having deferred for so long a time the great happiness I feel in becoming known to you." He then entered into a light conversation with me. My quickness detected an effort on his part to make himself very agreeable. He complimented me in a delicate way by making the Major the groundwork of his inoffensive flattery. I noticed that the Major regarded him with an air of surprise, and once interrupted him by saying:

"Come, my dear Hamlyn, all this is hardly fair. You should temper truth with justice. Remember that my praises of my wife to you may not have been intended to reach her. I have studied psychology, and know that you may sometimes give the female mind more flattery to feed on than is good for it. You see I do not give Maggie more praise than I think is beneficial for her. If I have spoken to you about her out of the fullness of my heart, pray respect my confidence by your secrecy."

I looked at him with happy eyes and a slightly flushed face. My heart swelled with love and pride to think that he spoke of me in such terms as Sir Geoffry had partially alluded to to his friends. gratified feeling even modified, but did not remove, my first movement of dislike to the baronet.

Soon after this Sir Geoffry arose to take his departure. bidding me good-bye he turned to Major Rivers.



"Will you convey my invitation to Mrs. Rivers, or shall I ?" he said. "Oh!" said the Major, "Sir Geoffry has been polite enough to ask us to dinner on Thursday next, Maggie . .

"You will, I am sure, pardon the informality of the invitation, Mrs. Rivers," interrupted the baronet. "The truth is, I look upon Newtown as the country, and avail myself of the privileges of provincialism to dispense, not, I trust, with the politeness, but with the dreary formalities, of society. I need hardly assure you how delighted I shall be if Major Rivers and yourself will honour me with your presence.'

I glanced at the Major, who seemed to respond with a faint nod. Addressing Sir Geoffry, I told him that we should be happy to accept his invitation.

"Well," said the Major, after the Baronet was gone, think of Hamlyn?"

"what do you

"He is gentlemanly," I responded, " and knows how to flatter." "Ho! Maggie is too sharp to accept his flattery as an illustration of his breeding?"

"Of course she is. But she can like him none the less for being accomplished in an art that serves at least to supply her with cherished proofs of her husband's love."

"Ay, but the dog had no right to betray me."

"He is a bachelor, is he not ?”

"Yes. But all the marriageable and a good many of the unmarriageable women of the place are after him. There's one old lady, I'm told, with one grown-up woman for a daughter, who pursues this man as relentlessly as the hideous shadow pursued the wretch

'Who on a lonesome road

Did walk in fear and dread,"

in the Ancient Mariner.' He is in hourly anguish lest this horrid beldame should fix him with her glittering eye-she has only one, but what a one is that! It beams on every bachelor!"

"Where's the fascination? The title, I suppose?"

"And the money. He's well off: worth, I should say, three thousand a year."

"Has he no intention of getting married ?"

"None. I should know if he had. He would have begged me to shrive him, had he even harboured such a notion. If he's married it will be in spite of himself. He'll have to be carried to the altar by force."

"How long have you known him?" I asked.

Why, pretty well ten years. I met him at Chatham first. He was a great friend of one Dick Trevor, a captain in my regiment, and constantly dined at our mess. He used to drink heavily in those days -was a mad fool, whose title made him a few staunch acquaintances, who plundered him almost into the presence of the money-lender. The fellow, in a drunken fit, at a drinking party in his own lodgings, insulted me. I forget what remark he made; but I thought it offen

sive enough to deserve repayment by a tumbler of hot brandy-andwater, which I threw over his face. A grand scene ensued, and a duel across the table was strongly and warmly recommended by every brave son of Mars or Mammon in the room, except the two subjects of this kindly solicitude. Hamlyn was too intoxicated to understand even the nature of the recommendation so cordially offered; and seeing his state, I left the room, prepared for something deadly next morning. All that the morning brought, however, was a letter from Hamlyn expressing great sorrow for the conduct of the preceding evening, begging my pardon, and asking me to go and see him that we might shake hands and become friends.”

"And you went ?" I said.

"Certainly. I had great expectations at the time-had heard that a rich uncle of mine was dying, and knew that I was down for his property. I hardly courted extinction at such a pleasant crisis of my life. Besides, had I been shot-what would Maggie have done ?"

I laughed. "And I suppose," I said, "that you have been good friends ever since ?"

"As friendship goes, yes. I had no idea he was living here when I took this house, though I had, often come across him in town. I think he likes me. For myself I am not so much enamoured. But he is a good enough fellow in his way; means well; is very hospitable, and is thought a good deal of here. Has what I have said prejudiced you ?"

"Not in the least. Your story is true, I suppose, of hundreds of young men."

"He is quite reformed, he tells me-lives here with all the temperateness of highly cultivated celibacy. I am sure that Maggie doesn't like him ?"

I looked up at him with a smile, but made no answer.

"You don't like his under lip; his heavy, stolid, sensual mouth; his treacherous eyes, from whose pallid centres hard living has expelled every trace of humanity; his big nose, which looks criminal; his expression of face like a villain's à la G. P. R. James, eh ?”

"Nonsense!" I exclaimed, surprised and a little vexed to find my opinion anticipated and ridiculed. "The face is not the heart. Perhaps the eyes may have something to do with the soul; but if his eyes are blank it only proves that he has no soul.

"Good. Let us argue him into a negation.

We shall make him then safe and reliable." And, patting me on the cheek, he strolled out

of the room.

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"WHAT next ?" think I, hurrying off, as bidden.

“What new

freak? Well, if I had been born with a silver spoon in my mouth I would not have spent my life in bewailing and lamenting that it was not a pewter one." In the conservatory no Lenore! Only two time-worn flirts of either sex, shooting their blunt little old arrows at each other's tough hearts, under a red camellia. I do not know why I do it, but I pass along, through the flowers, to a door at the other end that gives upon the outer air, and opening it, look forth. It is snowing rather fast; great, shapeless flakes floating down with disorderly slowness; but it is not very dark. My knowledge of my sister has not been at fault, for, through the snow, I see her, at a little distance from me, walking quickly up and down a terrace walk, with her head bent and her hands clasped before her. "How good for a person with a weak chest!" I cry indignantly, skipping gingerly out on the toes of my white satin boots, and flinging the tail of my gown adroitly over my head. “Anyone more unfit for death or more resolute to die than you, I have seldom had the pleasure of meeting."

I put my arm within hers and drag her along, back into the lighted warmth of the conservatory. A great tier of orange trees and chrysanthemums hides us from the veteran lovers. I look at her: the snow-flakes rest thickly on her hair, on her flimsy dress; run in melted drops off her chilled white shoulders.

"It does not wet one much," she says, with a rather deprecating


2 F

smile. "See, one can blow them away. How white they are! They will make the snowdrops that the school-children are to strew before me to-morrow look quite dirty, will not they?"

"Lunatic!" cry I, highly exasperated, shaking her; "fool! If I may be permitted to ask, what is the reason of this?"

"I was hot," she says, a little wildly, "stifled! Those flowers stifle me. Odious jonquils! Did ever any flowers smell so heavily? They are like the ones in that dreadful bouquet Charlie brought me for the ball."

I am shaking and flicking, with my best lace pocket-handkerchief, the snow from off her dress, so make no answer.

"You know, from a child, I was fond of running out, bare-headed, into a shower; I liked to feel the great cool drops patter patter on my hair. I wish to God I could feel them now. Put your hand on my head" (lifting my cold, red hand, and placing it on the top of her own sleek head).

"My good child," say I, startled,'" you are in a fever!"

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Jemima," she says, taking down my hand again, and holding it hard pressed between her two hot white ones, while her glittering eyes burn on my face, "I am quite happy, as you know, perfectly. No one has more cause to be so. I am quite young; I am better looking than most people; to-morrow I shall be rich, very rich; which, after all, includes all the others; but, do you know, sometimes, within the last few days, I have thought-it is a ridiculous idea, of course, but sometimes I have thought I was going mad! How do people begin to go mad? Tell me."

Her voice has sunk to an awed whisper. "Fiddlestick!" cry I contemptuously; "do not be alarmed, only clever people go mad; no fear for you."

"If any one comes suddenly into a room, if any one bangs a door, or speaks in a key at all louder than usual, I feel as if I must shriek out loud. I told you so the other day, if you remember, talking of the children; sometimes I am afraid of lifting my eyes to your or anyone else's face, for fear you should think they looked mad."

"Nonsense," interrupt I again, now thoroughly angry; "it is all nerves! Nerves are troublesome things if you are not moderately careful of them, and you never give yours a chance; you never sit still, you never rest, and it is my belief that you never sleep."

"Not if I can help it," she says, feverishly; "not if I can help it. Sometimes, when I feel myself falling asleep, I get out of bed, and walk about in the cold to wake myself thoroughly. I hate, sleep; it is my enemy! As sure as ever I fall asleep I am back in Brittany with him; we are as-as we used to be."

"If I were you," say I, with that sober eye to the main chance with which one regards life after five-and-twenty, "I should be glad

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