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was Lady Fermor's will to keep her own intrepidity, while her eyes twinkled malicounsel not many people would venture to ciously. dispute the point with her. Even Lucy “ Because I am determined to know," with the rest of the Acton family and he answered after an instant's pause. Lady Thwaite, who were the most sur. “ And by what right do you claim to be prised and perplexed at the unexpected, made acquainted with my granddaughter's unexplained, undefined visit somewhere whereabouts ?” she repeated her counterto somebody, which Iris was paying, sub-challenge. “Really, Sir William, you mitted to be kept for a while in ignorance. were always an original, and at one time, The mystery, however, began to make it. I believe, I rather liked your originality, self felt, and within a fortnight of the but that time is past, and there are limits event Lady Fermor's tranquillity was dis- even to good things.” turbed, and she was assailed and called Her sarcasm did not ruffle his mood; to account in her own house, which ought he had ceased to wince at the prick of to have been her castle.
such weapons, and he was also able to Lady Fermor had returned from her proclaim à right which in his eyes was afternoon drive, and had gone into her all-sufficient to authorize his presence and drawing-room for half an hour, when a interrogation. “ You were willing to give mesaage was brought to her from a former her and her happiness into my keeping friend, who had arrived at the frame of once. Is not that enough to entitle me to mind when forms and ceremonies were ask what has come to her?” indifferent to him. Sir William Thwaite Very little has come to her, as you bade a servant tell Lady Fermor that he say, that I know of,” answered Lady Ferwished to see her, and had not the suavity mor with an insolent criticism of bis Ento add.“ By her ladyship's leave,” or “ If glish, and with exasperating nonchalance. the call is convenient for her,” notwith. If she had many rejected lovers it would standing that he had long ceased to be a be an awkward precedent to establish, daily visitor at Lambford. He had not that each man might come and bore me been there since the night of Miss Comp with his curiosity to hear the last news of ton's ball. He had not spoken to Lady his old fame. But she was not much of Fermor since she left him in a rage, in a belle, poor thing! and, to tell the truth, the teeth of a thunder-storm, after her last I do know that she had the glory of visit to Whitebills. He had been a hus- dismissing any suitor save one; therefore, band and a widower in the interval. I do not mind saying to you that I know
As the message was delivered to the nothing about her.” venerable woman her sunken eyes gave a “ It ain't possible,” he cried hotly; "she warlike flashi, and she managed to sit erect was in your care. Women of your class after she had snapped out the two words, don't let girls go out into the world on “ Admit him.” Strife, and not peace, was their own hook, to do what they like, with. her natural element. In spite of her out having somebody to look after them. years, a tough encounter, a rousing con. Your notion is, that girls cannot take care tention, a battle of words, were more ac- of themselves no more than if they were ceptable to her than sluggish rest. babies.” Sir William came to his former haunt, " And I dare say we are right,” she in
“ looking too stern to be lightly discom- terjected briskly. posed and discomfited. He gave a hur. " And you make and keep them helpried glance round while he was mechanical- less,” he went on without appearing to ly saying “Good morning” to his former pay any&attention to her, “ till they are too ally; and the sternness was intensified on delicate and dainty to stand on their own a face which, when it was not lit up with feet and make their own way. I know a smile, had always been more the type of she isn't like that, and I haven't such a a certain form of comely strength, than of bad opinion of the world as to think that sunshine and sweetness.
there are many, either gentle or simple, "It is a treat to see you nowadays, Sir that would harm ber. But it ain't kind or William,” said Lady Fermor tentatively, considerate that she should be exposed to motioning him to a seat beside her. what another young lady could not face;
But he did not sit down, and he did not and though she may not be right down answer her, save by telling his errand harmed, she may be frightened and worwith brutal straightforwardness. "Where ried. Lady Fermor, I insist on your giv. is Miss Compton, Lady Fermor ?” ing me satisfaction.”'
Why do you ask?” she parried his “ In my day it was gentlemen who gave question with the utmost coolness and each other satisfaction,” said Lady Fero
mor airily; "a good manly custom which, George, if you were a man, though you like some other customs dot half so bad were a prince, I would not stand to hear as they were called, has passed away it. You are an old woman and my lady, but let them go, they served my time. I but I say you have spoken an infamous assure you, Sir William, I am not account. slander against your own flesh and blood, able for the young lady in whom you are as much above you as heaven is above pleased to take so deep an interest. I am earth. Where is your natural womanly sorry not to have it in my power to say feeling, your mother's heart, Lady Fershe returns it, or would thank you for it," mor?” witli a little mocki:g, palsied bow to her Something in bis air and attitude smote listener. “She took our relations, bers the rock of her nature on which his words and mine, into her own hands. Accord bad struck in vain. She shrank and cow. ing to your definition, she assumed the ered a little, and collapsed into the feebleprivilege of the lower orders. She said it ness of her years. was better we should part; she could not “Don't,” she implored, “ don't you stay any longer with me. I am too old a curse me ; you are like — like a friend I woman to pretend to fight with disobedi- had once. Never mind who it was. I ent, undutiful girls, or boys either, even saw the likeness the first day we met, and though they are my grandchildren. She took a fancy for you, and did my best to said she would go, and she went there serve you. I don't deserve this treatment is the long and the short of it.”
from you, Thwaite, but I am ready to give “Before it came to that, my lady, you you satisfaction — all the satisfaction I had something to answer for,” said Sir can. That goose of a girl you think so William, gulping down what was sticking much of, though she don't care a straw in his tbroat.
and she ain't worth your trouble Now, don't you think this is getting well, let that be — she never told me tiresome ? " suggested Lady Fermor. "I where she was going, and I am not bound have told you the truth, which, whatever to know; but she is no more fit to carry you may believe, you have no earthly call out a plot than that Spanish ass, Don to swagger here and demand from me. Quixote. She behaved like a simpleton, May I beg you to spare me your reflec. as you may be sure. Her baggage was tions on it, and to cut short your visit? | addressed to the care of a sister of a cant. Don't you see, man, I have come in from ing, mischief-making governess the child a drive, and am tired?”
once bad, and her ticket was taken to “I cannot help it,” he protested, but in London. She had money for bet board the middle of the rudeness he pushed a for three months. I can give you the adfootstool under her feet, and caught up a dress if you care to have it, though I don't cushion to place at her back. Remember- see what good it will do you now. Sir ing former services of the same kind, ren. William, will you go and leave ine alone dered under different circumstances and in peace, and don't come back to haunt highly valued then, the wicked old face me in another person's guise on my dying twitched and softened a little, though it bed?” relapsed the next moment into its malice “No, I want to do something better and hardness.
than that," he said, ball with lingering “ You don't mean to say you let her go fury, half in gruff relenting, and conces. like that?” he persisted, still standing like sion to their old friendly relations. “ You an avenging giant before a hard-hearted say you took a fancy for me, and meant witch. “You never asked her where she well by me. I am willing to believe you, was to turn to? You are not acquainted though it was a fancy which played me with any friend she might seek?" strange tricks, and went far to my undo.
"No," she had the coarseness and ing. I was not ungrateful, whatever you cruelty to answer him, “it is not always may think. I take it you have not so advisable to ask too many questions. We many true friends to call your own at the women are not often without friends at close of your long life, that you should Iris's age, and we don't always care to shake off this one, and she your grandpublish the road we mean to follow.” daughter, as good as gold, or even a rough,
“It is a shameful lie !” he said, speak- little-worth fellow like me. Why in the ing bis mind without the slightest reserva. name of goodness should you not go after tion, while his fresh-colored face darkened Miss Compton, find her, and be a loving to a dusky red, and the veins on his fore. grandmother to her, as I am sure she head, within the curves of chestnut bair, would be a loving child to you, if you stood out knotted like whipcord. “By I would let her ?”
“ Because it ain't in me, Thwaite," re- her cautious admission, be forced himself plied her ladyship with returning coolness to protest, “ l'll stand no end indebted to and candor. “You must be a bad reader you if you do this kindness to yourself of character, if you cannot decipher that. and Miss Compton at my biddiny. But • Loving grandmother,' indeed! Bah! I what you mean to do you ought to set leave that to your tame old body who bas about quickly." kissed her faithless tyrant's feet, and run “You are in a great burry, Thwaite,” after her prodigal sons and fast daughters, observed Lady Fermor sarcastically. “I until in the evening of her days she is suppose you see that I have my bonnet content to sit chirping and snivelling over on my head, and you think I shall be her mischievous brats of grandchildren." ready to stir my old bones, and rise and
He was not to be diverted from his run after a flighty fool of twenty or there. aim.
abouts. Much obliged for your consider. “You say Miss Compton has the pay- ation for my age and infirmities. You ment of her board, among people you dis. had better order the carriage back at approve of, for a month or two. What is once, and ride on before, and get a ticket she to do then? Will you let her feel for London, and let me start napless and herself forsaken by man? - not by God. dinnerless. I should arrive dizzy and You cannot touch'her there.” He broke starving before midnight. I dare say I off in a low tone with a mixture of rever- might knock about for a bed; or if I found ence and tenderness – the true, chival- my way to Fitzroy Square, perhaps my rous devotion, very different from any good granddaughter would have the comspecies of love poor Lady Fermor had mon humanity to lend me hers for what ever given or taken, shining in his blue remained of the night.” eyes.
6. You do not intend Lord Fermor's You are talking nonsense,” he said granddaughter to beg her board from bluntly, staring at her, “but you will go Strangers, or to hire herself out for a up to London and seek out Miss Comp. wage, do you ? though she might count it ton – won't you?” no dishonor to make service honorable by “I may if you will be my escort. I discharging it."
have never been accustomed to travel “She has chosen her course, and she without a squire,” she said with a kind of must abide by it-ay, and eat the fruit of ghastly coquetry.
6. When I was younger, her folly,” argued the old woman, before a good deal younger, I used to have halfshe changed her cue, and suddenly made a dozen sparks and beaux at my disposal. a concession. “If I do anything more As it is, I am not so strong and nimble as for Iris Compton, it will be as a favor to Iris Compton. By-the-by, I'm not at all you, Thwaite. The hussy or the angel, sure that she will give in, and consent to if you prefer it, shall owe my forgiveness put herself under my wing again. Disto you. That will be something for her obedience is a virulent as well as a compride to swallow, though I fear you have mon complaint nowadays. I shall need lost the spirit to cast it in her teeth." all the foreign support I can get. Yours
Powerful as Sir William's champion. may not be very available in this case, but sbip had been, this was not exactly true. it is better than none.
To be sure, my It was a fact that Lady Fermor, like most young lady may have eaten her leek and women of strong passions, had possessed changed her mind, while another person little natural affection. The passions had has had time and reason enough to alter burnt themselves out, and in their ashes his opinion. : I shan't blame him, though there were few elements for the growth I am reduced to wonder whether he has of the domestic charities. Still there were attacked me out of a spirit of contradicbounds to her callousness and vindictive. tion and devilry, or from mere mawkish ness. Lady Fermor had driven this girl, magnanimity, pity, and suchlike stuff.” as Sir William had put it, from the dignity She looked at him sharply. He reand ease of Lambford, to beg her bread turned her glance coldly, and dismissed or to hire herself out for a wage. In the her wonder with a formal, • Good afterend the old woman might not be unwillo noon, Lady Fermor. I shall see you to ing, for more reasons than one, to yield to London if you like, at whatever time you bis advocacy, giving it all the credit in fix,” as he left her. order to save her own consistency; while That night Bill Rogers was considerunderneath the veil she appeased her ably impressed by finding himself put in grisly ghost of a conscience.
authority at Whitebills, while his master “ Thanks,” he said shortly; and then held himself in readiness to start any day fearing to displease her and turn her from for London.
in a way.
daughter in Fitzroy Square, with highly
respectable people of whom her ladyship YOUTH STRIVES.
knew something, than wandering through Iris had reached London in safety, she the world without chaperon or companion. had found Mrs. Haigh, a fat, florid, over. Lady Fermor ought rather to feel relieved dressed woman, hospitable, and friendly and grateful when she heard Mrs. Haigh's
But Iris had not found another name mentioned as a temporary guardian Miss Burrage - it would have been up for Miss Compton. reasonable to expect it in the matron who Having persuaded herself of this, Mrs. was in an extraordinary fiutter of mingled Haigh was at liberty to rejoice in the acpride and alarm at having Lord and Lady quisition to her circle, even though her Fermor's granddaughter again under her reason whispered it could not be perma. own roof.
Iris's presence lent a glo- nent. Its reflected éclat might long sure rious distinction to the upper middle-class vive its actual existence, and while 'it boarding-house, but it might be drawing lasted the mistress of the house could load down upon the hostess the wrath of "the Iris with overpowering attentions. combined aristocracy,” because of aiding Iris was vexed that Mrs. Haigh would and abetting insubordination in their ranks constantly speak of her and to her as and desertion from their leaders.
“ Lady Fermor's granddaughter.” The Iris had said honestly, "I am sorry to excellent woman would even betray at say grandmamma and I have not been once her ignorance and vanity, by bestowhappy together lately, Mrs. Haigh. Pering on Iris a handle to her name to which haps my dear old friend, Miss Burrage, she was not entitled. Mrs. Haigh always may have said something long ago which called Iris the Honorable Miss Compton, will help you to understand matters. I and considered it foolish modesty and don't mean that I am not to blame. No shyness — perhaps a little hauteur in doubt I have failed in tact and patience, disguise — when the girl first hinted, and and a thousand things, but the painful fact then said plainly, that neither the Her. remains that we have not got on well to. ald's Office nor Debrett would authorize gether. Now I have left Lambford with the use of such a privilege. Lady Fermor's knowledge, and come up Iris was still more wounded when she to town to ask if you will take me in, till í had reason to suspect that Mrs. Haigh, in see what is to become of me."
her incessant reference to Lambford and Of course Mrs. Haigh would take Iris Lady Fermor, did not refrain from impart. in. What mistress of a boarding estab- ing in mysterious whispers to chosen lishment, unless she were a very excep. members of her circle the scandals with tional person, would refuse to receive which the name had been associated, or a peer's granddaughter, looking as Iris else by nods and shrugs and hinted innulooked, wearing the dress she wore, even endoes refreshed her ladies' and gentle. if there had not been the old family con- men's memories on the subject. She was nection of which Mrs. Haigh had boasted irreproachable in her own morals, yet she for the last fifteen years ?
seemed to take a warped pride in what Mrs. Haigh was soon satisfied that Iris she was pleased to view as aristocratic was neither impecunious in the mean time, iniquities. nor possessed by any romantic delusion These ladies and gentlemen were perof throwing herself on the devotion of an. fectly respectable, better-class pension. cient allies and living on air, her dignity, naires. Though the ladies had the and their worshipping commiseration. priority by courteous phrase, the gentle. When this important little item was agree. men were really the ruling power in the ably settled to Mrs. Haigh's practical establishment, as they still are in the mind, she had nothing to disturb her but world. Whether married or single, from the apprehension of Lady Fermor's dis. the bachelor confidential clerk in a trepleasure and that vague horror of the mendously great banking establishment wrath of the combined aristocracy which to the retired clergyman and half-pay was not without its breathless charm, like officer, they all paid board in full; and as the coveted terror produced by an excit- they were the members of the establishing ghost story. Certainly Mrs. Haigh ment who were the most out of the house was aware that Lady Fermor had been a during the day, they were supposed to very formidable, unmanageable person, give least trouble to their hostess, while though she ought by this time to be in her they were also the most profitable boarddotage.
But whether doting or not, ers. It was for the gentlemen's appetite surely she would rather have her grand- and tastes that Mrs. Haigh in reality ca:
tered most sedulously; it was the gentle. chest, and was, therefore, as a clergyman men's evening rubber that she guarded and a confirmed invalid, invested with the from interruption most carefully. double attributes of spiritual director and
Some of the spinsters were ladies in object of tender sympathy to every soft reduced circumstances, and paid Mrs. heart. Iris was sorry for isim ; but her Haigh a smaller board for rooms nearer heart was not so soft in this quarter as to the sky, and for inferior attendance gen- prevent her perceiving that he was both erally, with which, in strict justice and self-conscious and self-indulgent; so she logic, these half-indigent gentlewomen left the nursing of him to his wife, and ought to have been contented. But in kept her spiritual concerns out of his point of fact they employed a considerable reach. amount of their time in jealous inspection Iris was not more won by the ladies of the better position of their neighbors, from bluff Mrs. Judge Penfold, who, arguand muttered grumblings over their own ing from her tiile, bad appropriated her wants, or in high-laluting, ostentatious husband's office as well as ihe reins of his professions of indifference to circum- phaeton, down to little Mrs. Rugely, the stances, or else in judicious, assiduous inconsolable pretty young widow, who, to attentions to their better-off companions the envy of the remaining men, sat berest
attentions which had their reward. at the Rev. Edward's feet, yet was able to
To the single ladies, more than all the take the deepest interest in the exact fit other inhabitants of the house, Iris's ad- of her widow's gown and the becoming vent was a windfall. For once the spin- shape of her bonnet, and pensively asked sters felt equal to the men and to the mar- her friends’advice whether scarlet flowers ried women. The other maidens, how. were not admissible after the first stage ever ancient, shared in the suss made of mourning was past. Her lost love bad about this girl, as if it had been a tribute always preferred her with scarlet, and ento the whole body of unprotected females. tire black was really too trying for a brulo return for the homage paid to her or nette complexion. rather to Lady Fermor's granddaughter Iris had received a blow in finding Mrs. — Iris made figuratively a series of cour. Haigh so unlike Miss Burrage, and the teous bows, and sought to possess her blow was not softened, neither was the soul in patience like a princess on a royal | likeness increased, on the only occasion progress. But although in her faith, when the girl spoke of her best friend to hope, and charity, which, after all the that friend's sister. Mrs. Haigh twinkled sneers liberally launched at these graces away a facile tear, indeed, and expressed and their Christian origin, are as trust. her thankfulness for having had her dear worthy touchstones as any that have yet Emily in Mrs. Haigh's house, to be waited been found for use in the motley crowd of upon by her during the good soul's last life, Iris had no doubt that there was more illness. than sufficient to respect, like, and inspire “It was a great privilege, Miss Compinterest in her fellow-boarders, if one only ton; you who knew her, and who, I may knew them better, and held the clue to say, was her pet pupil, can guess how unthe true life beneath the conventional; complaining, considerate, even cheerful, still, looking only on the surface, she did she was to the very last." not find anything to attract her particu- But Mrs. Haigh was honest in ber thick. larly in any of the members of the large skinnedness, and absence of deep or family under Mrs. Haigh's roof.
delicate or abiding feeling. She added Iris was not overwhelmingly impressed innocently enough in the next breath : by the rich, stiffened, silent, white-haired " It was a mercy the illness was short, for clerk of so great a banking-house, that it saved the dear saint a great deal of even its first clerk was surrounded by a suffering; and to have had her lying nimbus of golden influence and responsi- longer bere, or even lingering on, neither bility. She did not yield to the lively nl nor well, unfit for duty, without a suffifascinations of Captain Boscawen, who cient provision for her needs, a burden to knew all the gossip of the best society, herself and others — as, between our. and being affable, gallant, and chatty, was selves, I think Mr. Calcott is sometimes, a favorite with most of the ladies. She when he murmurs so at his chimney was not even greatly touched by the Rev. smoking, and objects to the piano being Edward Calcott, a younger man than the played after certain hours — would have first two beroes. He had been forced to been more than I could have undertaken, retire from his vicar's charge on account with my husband and children and the of an abiding relaxed throat and weak care of a boarding house on my hands.,