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Maria wants a week's holiday. I am always so much, as if nobody had ever been in a
so unwilling to put any obstacles in the way great house but herself. She is going to
of any one's pleasure, — weakly unwilling, Hamley Hall next week, – getting quite
I believe, but it certainly would be very dissipated in fact.”
convenient to have you out of the house for Yet to Mrs. Goodenough, the next caller
a few days; so, for once, I will waive my on the same errand of congratulation, Mrs.
own wish for your companionship, and Gibson's tone was quite different. There
plead your cause with papa."

had always been a tacit antagonism be-
Miss Brownings came to call and hear the tween the two, and the conversation now
double batch of news. Mrs. Goodenough ran as follows:
had come the very day on which they had Mrs. Goodenough began,
returned from Miss Hornblower's, to tell “ Well! Mrs. Gibson, I suppose I must
them the astounding fact of Molly' Gibson wish you joy of Miss Cynthia's marriage; I
having gone on a visit to the Towers; not should condole with some mothers as had
to come back at night, but to sleep there, lost their daughters ; but you're not one of
to be there for two or three days, just as if that sort, I reckon.”
she was a young lady of quality.' So Miss Now, as Mrs. Gibson was not quite sure
Browning came to hear all the details of the to which “sort ” of mothers the greatest
wedding from Mrs. Gibson, and the history credit was to be attached, she found it a
of Molly's visit at the Towers as well. But little difficult how to frame her reply.
Mrs. Gibson did not like this divided inter- “Dear Cynthia !” she said. “ One can't
est, and some of her old jealousy of Molly's but rejoice in her happiness! And yet”.
intimacy at the Towers had returned. she ended her sentence by sighing.

“Now, Molly,” said Miss Browning, “ let " Ay. She was a young woman as would us hear how you behaved among the great always have her followers; for, to tell the folks. You must not be set up with all their truth, she was as pretty a creature as ever attention; remember that they pay it to I saw in my life. And all the more she needyou for your good father's sake.”

ed skilful guidance. I am sure I, for one, “ Molly is, I think, quite aware,” put in am as glad as can be she's done so well by Mrs. Gibson, in her most soft and languid herself. Folks say Mr. Henderson has a tone,“ that she owes her privilege of visiting handsome private fortune over and above at such a house to Lady Cumnor's kind de- what he makes by the law.” sire to set my mind quite at liberty at the “ There is no fear but that my Cynthia time of Cynthia's marriage. As soon as ever will have everything this world can give!” I had returned home, Molly came back; said Mrs. Gibson with dignity. indeed I should not have thought it right to “Well, well! she was always a bit of a let her intrude upon their kindness beyond favourite of mine; and as I was saying to what was absolutely necessary.”

my granddaughter there” (for she was acMolly felt extremely uncomfortable at all companied by a young lady, who looked this, although perfectly aware of the entire keenly to the prospect of some weddinginaccuracy of the statement.

cake), “I was never one of those who ran “Well, but, Molly !” said Miss Browning, her down and called her a flirt and a jilt. never mind whether you went there on I'm glad to hear she's like to be so well off. your own merits, or your worthy father's And now, I suppose, you'll be turning your merits, or Mrs. Gibson's merits ; but tell us mind to doing something for Miss Molly what you did when you were there." there?"

So Molly began an account of their say- “ If you mean by that, doing anything ings and doings, which she could have made that can, by hastening her marriage, defar more interesting to Miss Browning and prive me of the company of one who is like Miss Phæbe if she had not been conscious my own child, you are very much mistaken, of her stepmother's critical listening. She Mrs. Goodenough. And pray remember, I had to tell it all with a mental squint; the am the last person in the world to matchsurest way to spoil a narration. She was make. Cynthia made Mr. Henderson's acalso subject to Mrs. Gibson's perpetual cor- quaintance at her uncle's in London.” rections of little statements which she knew “ Ay! I thought her cousin was very often to be facts. But what vexed her most of ill, and needing her nursing, and you were all was Mrs. Gibson's last speech before the very keen she should be of use. I am not Miss Brownings left.

saying but what it is right in a mother; I'm Molly has fallen into rambling ways only putting in a word for Miss Molly. with this visit of hers, of which she makes • Thank you, Mrs. Goodenough," said

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Molly, half-angry, half-laughing. “ When and underneath this open window went I want to be married, I'll not trouble mamma. the path from the house-door to the road. I'll look out for myself.”

Molly heard Mrs. Goodenough saying to her Molly is becoming so popular, I hardly granddaughter, know how we shall keep her at home," said “That Mrs. Gibson is a deep un. There's Mrs.' Gibson. “ I miss her sadly; but, as I Mr. Roger Hamley as like as not to have said to Mr. Gibson, let young people have the Hall estate, and she sends Molly a-visitchange, and see a little of the world while ing. and then she passed out of hearing. they are young. It has been a great ad- Molly could have burst out crying, with a vantage to her being at the Towers while full sudden conviction of what Mrs. Goodso many clever and distinguished people enough had been alluding to: her sense of were there. I can already see a difference the impropriety of Molly's going to visit in her tone of conversation: an elevation in at the Hall when Roger was at home. To her choice of subjects. And now she is be sure Mrs. Goodenough was a commongoing to Hamley Hall. I can assure you I place, unrefined woman. Mrs. Gibson did feel quite a proud mother, when I see how not seem to have even noticed the allusion. she is sought after. And my other daugh- Mr. Gibson took it all as a matter of course ter - my. Cynthia — writing such letters that Molly should go to the Hall as simply from Paris !

now, as she had done before. Roger had “ Things is a deal changed since my spoken of it in so straightforward a manner days, for sure,” said Mrs. Goodenough. as showed he had no conception of its being

So, perhaps, I'm no judge. When I was an impropriety, — this visit, this visit unmarried first, him and me went in a post- til now so happy a subject of anticipation. chaise to his father's house, a matter of Molly felt as if she could never speak to twenty mile off at the outside ; and sate any one of the idea to which Mrs. Goodedown to as good a supper amongst his nough's words had given rise ; as if she friends and relations as you'd wish to see. could never be the first to suggest the noAnd that was my first wedding jaunt. My tion of impropriety, which pre-supposed second was when I better knowed my worth what she blushed to think of. Then she as a bride, and thought that now or never tried to comfort herself by reasoning. If I must see London. But I were reckoned a it had been wrong, forward, or indelicate, very extravagant sort of a body to go so really improper in the slighest degree, who far, and spend my money, though Jerry had would have been so ready as her father to left me uncommon well off. But now young put his vetò upon it? But reasoning was folks go off to Paris, and think nothing of of no use after Mrs. Goodenough's words the cost : and it's well if wilful waste don't had put fancies into Molly's head. The maké woeful want before they die. But more she bade these fancies begone the I'm thankful somewhat is being done for more they answered her (as Daniel Miss Molley's chances, as I said afore. O'Rourke did the man in the moon, when It's not quite what I should have liked to he bade Dan get off his seat on the sickle, have done for my Anna-Maria though. and go into empty space), “ The more ye But times are changed, as I said just now.” ask us the more we won't stir.” One may

smile at a young girl's miseries of this de

scription ; but they are very real and stingCHAPTER LIX.

ing miseries to her. All that Molly could do was to resolve on a single eye to the dear old squire, and his mental and bodily com

forts; to try and heal up any breaches The conversation ended there for the which might have occurred between him time. Wedding-cake and wine were brought and Aimée; and to ignore Roger as much in, and it was Molly's duty to serve them as possible. Good Roger! Kind Roger ! But those last words of Mrs. Goode- Dear Roger! It would be very

bard to nough's tingled in her ears, and she tried avoid him as much as was consistent with to interpret them to her own satisfaction in common politeness; but it would be right any way but the obvious one. And that, to do it; and when she was with him she too, was destined to be confirmed; for di- must be as natural as possible, or he might rectly after Mrs. Goodenough took her observe some difference; but what was leave, Mrs. Gibson desired Molly to carry natural ? How much ought she avoid being away the tray to a table close to an open with him ? Would he even notice if she corner window, where the things might be was more chary of her company, more placed in readiness for any future callers ; calculating of her words ? Alas! the

MOLLY GIBSON AT HAMLEY HALL.

out.

came

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simplicity of their intercourse was spoilt | ers enjoying. Aimée could hardly attend
henceforwards ! She made laws for her- to Molly' for her anxiety as to what her boy
self; she resolved to devote herself to the was doing and eating ; yet she said nothing.
squire and to Aimée, and to forget Mrs. Roger took the end of the table opposite to
Goodenough's foolish speeches; but her that at which sate grandfather and grand-
perfect freedom was gone; and with it child. After the boy's first wants were
half her chance, that is to say, half her gratified the squire addressed himself to
chance would have been lost over any Molly.
strangers who had not known her before: “ Well ! and so you can come here a-vis-
they would probably have thought her stiff iting though you have been among the
and awkward, and apt to say things and grand folks. I thought you were going to
then retract them. But she was so differ- cut us, Miss Molly, when I heard you was
ent from her usual self that Roger noticed gone to the Towers could not find any
the change in her as soon as she arrived at other place to stay at while father and
the Hall. She had carefully measured out mother were away, but an earl's, eh?”.
the days of her visit; they were to be ex- They asked me, and I went,” said Mol-
actly the same number as she had spent at ly; “ now you've asked me, and I've come
the Towers. She feared lest if she stayed here."
at 'the Hall a shorter time the squire might “I think you might ha' known you'd be
be annoyed. Yet how charming the place always welcome here, without waiting for
looked in its early autumnal glow as she asking. Why, Molly! I look upon you as
drove up! And ihere was Roger at the a kind of a daughter more than Nadam
hall-door waiting to receive her, watching there!” dropping his voice a little, and per-
for her coming. And now he retreated, ap- haps supposing that the child's babble would
parently to summon his sister-in-law, who drown the signification of his words.

now timidly forward in her deep · Nay, you need not look at me so pitiful-
widow's mourning, holding her boy in her ly she does not follow English readily;"
arms as if to protect her shyness; but he “I think she does !” said Molly, in a low
struggled down, and ran towards the car- voice, not looking up, however, for fear of
riage, eager to greet his friend the coach- catching another glimpse at Aimée's sudden
man, and to obtain a promised ride. Roger forlornness of expression and deepened col-
did not say much himself: he wanted to our. She felt grateful, as if for a personal
make Aimée feel her place as daughter of favour, when she heard Roger speaking to
the house; but she was too timid to speak Aimée the moment afterwards in the tender
much. And she only took Molly by the terms of brotherly friendliness; and pres-
hand and led her into the drawing-room, ently these two were sufficiently engaged
where, as if by a sudden impulse of grati- in a tête-à-tête conversation to allow Molly
tude for all the tender nursing she had re- and the squire to go on talking.
ceived during her illness, she put her arms " He's a sturdy chap, is not he?” said
round Molly and kissed her long and well. the squire, stroking the little Roger's curly
And after that they came to be friends. head. “ And he can puff four puffs at

It was nearly lunch-time, and the squire grandpapa's pipe without being sick, can't always made his appearance at that meal, he ?" more for the pleasure of seeing his grandson “I s’ant puff any more puffs,” said the boy eat his dinner, than for any hunger of his resolutely. Mamma says no.

I s'ant." own. To-day Molly quickly saw the whole “ That's just like her!” said the squire, state of the family affairs. She thought dropping his voice this time, however." As that even had Roger said nothing about if it could do the child any harm!". them at the Towers, she should have found Molly made a point of iurning the conout that neither the father nor the daugh- versation from all personal subjects after ter-in-law had as yet found the clue to each this, and kept the squire talking about the other's characters, although they had now progress of his drainage during the rest of been living for several months in the same lunch. lle offered to take her to see it; house. Aimée seemed to forget her Eng- and she acceded to the proposal, thinking, lish in her nervousness; and to watch meantime, how little she need have antic with the jealous eyes of a dissatisfied moth- pated the being thrown too intimately with er all the proceedings of the squire towards Roger, who seemed to devote himself to his her little boy. They were not of the wi- sister-in-law. But, in the evening, when Aisest kind, it must be owned; the child sipped mée had gone upstairs to put her boy to the strong ale with evident relish, and clam- bed, and the squire was asleep in his easy oured for everything which he saw the oth- chair, a sudden flush of memory brought

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Mrs. Goodenough's words again to her mind. | as formerly. Still, one day Aimée suggestShe was virtually tête-à-tête with Roger, as ed a nutting expedition - another day they she had been dozens of times before, but gave little Roger the unheard-of pleasure now she could not help assuming an air of of tea out-of-doors — there was something constraint: her eyes did not meet bis in the else agreeable for a third ; and it was Rogold frank way; she took up a book at a er who arranged all these simple pleasures pause in the conversation, and left him puz- — such as he knew Molly would enjoy. zled and annoyed at the ge in her But to her he only appeared as the ready

And so it went on during all the forwarder of Aimée's devices. The week time of her visit. It sometimes she forgot was nearly gone, when one morning the and let herself go into all her old natural- squire found Roger sitting in the old library ness, by-and-by she checked herself, and with a book before him, it is true, but so became comparatively cold and reserved. deep in thought that he was evidently starRoger was pained at all this — more pained tled by his father's unexpected entrance. day after day ; more anxious to discover “I thought I should find thee here, my the cause.

Aimée, too, silently noticed lad! We'll have the oll room done up how different Molly became in Roger's again before winter; it smells musty enough, presence. One day she could not help say- and yet I see it's the place for thee! i ing to Molly,

want thce to go with me round the five-acre. * Don't you like Roger? You would if I'm thinking of laying it down in grass. you only knew how good he was ! Ile is It's time for you to be getting into the fresh learned, but that is nothing: it is his good- air, you look quite woe-begone over books, ness that one admires and loves."

books, books; ihere never was a thing like “ He is very good,” said Molly. "I have 'em for stealing a man's health out of him!” known him long enough to know that.” So Roger went out with his father, with

“ But you don't think him agreeable ? out saying many words till they were at He is not like my poor husband, to be sure; some distance from the house. Then he and you knew him well, too. Ah! tell me brought out a sentence with such abruptabout him once again. When you first ness that he repaid his father for the start knew him ? When his mother was alive?” the latter had given him a quarter of an

Molly had grown very fond of Aimée : bour before. when the latter was at her ease she had " Father, you remember I'm going out very charming and attaching ways; but again to the Cape next month! You spoke feeling uneasy in her position in the squire's of doing up the library: If it is for me, I house, she was almost repellent to him; and sball be away all the winter.” he, too, put on his worst side to her. Roger “ Can't you get off it ? ” pleaded his fawas most anxious to bring them together, ther." I thought maybe you'd forgotten all and had several consultations with Molly about it.”. as to the best means of accomplishing this " Not likely!" said Roger, half-smiling. end. As long as they talked upon this sub- “Well, but they might have found anject she spoke to him in the quiet sensible other man to finish up your work.” manner wbich she inherited from her fath- “ No one can finish it but myself. Beer; but when their discussions this point sides, an engagement is an engagement. were ended, she fell back into her piquant When I wrote to Lord Hollingford to tell assumption of dignified reserve. It was him I must come home, I promised to go out very difficult to her to maintain this strange again for another six months." manner, especially when once or twice she * Ay. I know. And perhaps it will put fancied that it gave biin pain; and she it out of my mind. It will always be hard would into her own room and suddenly on me to part from thee. But I daresay it's burst into tears on these occasions, and wish best for you.”. that her visit was ended, and that she was Roger's colour deepened. “You are once again in the eventless tranquillity of alluding to - to Miss Kirkpatrick – Mrs. her own home. Yet presently her fancy Ilenderson I mean. Father, let me tell you changed, and she clung to the swiftly pass- once for all I think that was rather a hästy ing hours, as if she would still retain the attair. I am pretty sure now that we were happiness of each. For, unknown to her, not suited to each other. I was wretched Roger was exerting himself to make her when I got ber letter — at the Cape I mean visit pleasant. He was not willing to ap- but I believe it was for the best." pear as the instigator of all the litile plans “ That's right. That's my own boy,” said for each day, for he felt as if somehow he the squire, turning round and shaking hands did not hold the same place in her regard with his son with vehemence.

go

" And now

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m

I'll tell you what I heard the other day, talk any more about it. As I said before, it
when I'was at the magistrates' meeting. is too late.”
They were all saying she had jilted Pres- The squire was like a child to whom some
ton.

toy has been refused; from time to time the
“I don't want to hear anything against thought of his disappointment in this mat-
her : she may have her faults, but I can ter recurred to his mind; and then he took
never forget how I once loved her.” to blaming Cynthia as the primary cause of

“ Well, well! Perhaps it's right. I was Roger's present indifference to womankind. not so bad about it, was I, Roger ? Poor It so happened that on Molly's last mornOsborne need not have been so secret with ing at the Hall, she received her first letter me. I asked your Miss Cynthia out here - from Cynthia - Mrs. Henderson. It was and her mother and all — my bark is worse just before breakfast-time : Roger was out than my bite. For if I had a wish on earth of doors, Aimée had not as yet come down ; it was to see Osborne married as befitted Molly was alone in the dining-room, where one of an old stock, and he went and chose the table was already laid. She had just out this French girl, of no family at all, finished reading her letter when the squire only a”

came in, and she immediately and joyfully "Never mind what she was ; look at what told him what the morning had brought to she is ! I wonder you are not more taken her. But when she saw the squire's face with her humility and sweetness, father!” she could have bitten her tongue out for

“I don't even call her pretty,” said the having named Cynthia's name to him. He squire, uneasily, for he dreaded a repetition looked vexed and depressed. of the arguments which Roger had often “I wish I might never hear of her again. used to make him give Aimée her proper I do. She's been the bane of my Roger, due of affection and position. “Now your that's what she has. I have not slept half Miss Cynthia was pretty, I will say that for the night, and it's all her fault. Why, her, the baggage ! and to think that when there's my boy saying now that he has no you two lads flew right in your father's heart for ever marrying, poor lad! I wish face, and picked out girls below you in rank it had been you, Molly, my lads had taken a and family, you should neither of you have fancy for. I told Roger so t'other day, and set your fancies on my little Molly there. I said that for all you were beneath what I I daresay I should ha' been angry enough at ever thought to see them marry, — well the time, but the lassie would ha' found her it's of no use - it's too late, now, as he said. way to my heart, as never this French lady, Only never let me hear that baggage's name nor t’other one, could ha' done."

again, that's all. And no offence to you, Roger did not answer.

either, lassie. I know you love the wench; “I don't see why you might not put up for but if you'll take an old man's word, you're her still. I'm humble enough now, and worth a score of her. I wish young men you're not heir as Osborne was who mar- would think so too,” he muttered as he went ried a servant-maid. Don't you think you to the side-table to carve the ham, while could turn your thoughts to Molly Gibson, Molly poured out the tea — her heart very Roger."

hot all the time, and effectually silenced for ** No!” said Roger, shortly. “ It's too late a space. It was with the greatest difficulty

too late. Don't let us talk any more of that she could keep tears of mortificamy marrying. Is not this the five-acre tion from falling. She felt altogether in a field ?” And soon he was discussing the wrong position in that house, which had relative values of meadow, arable and pas. been like a home to her until this last visit. ture land with his father, as heartily as if | What with Mrs. Goodenough's remarks, and he had never known Molly, or loved Cyn- now this speech of the squire's, implying – thia. But the squire was not in such good at least to her susceptible imagination – spirits, and went but heavily into the dis- that his father had proposed her as a wife cussion. At the end of it be said àpropos to Roger, and that she had been rejected, de bottes,

she was more glad than she could express, “ But don't you think you could like her or even think, that she was going home this if you tried, Roger ?”

very morning. Roger came in from his Roger knew perfectly well to what his fa- walk while she was in this state of feeling: ther was alluding, but for an instant he was He saw in an instant that something had on the point of pretending to misunder- distressed Molly; and he longed to have the stand. At length, however, he said, in a old friendly right of asking her what it was. low voice,

But she had effectually kept him at too “ I shall never try, father. Don't let us great a distance during the last few days for

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