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said she, that same evening, “I should you must know, has a mother who lives be glad to have an answer to the question with her - an old lady of whom you re. I made so bold as to arst you three weeks mind me in many respects, Mrs. Webber.

She is quite as stupid as you are, quite My dear Mrs. Webber, I thought I as obstinate, and thinks herself quite as had given you an answer at the time.” sharp. As a bully, she beats you. Make

" You'll escuse me, sir, but that is just her your eneny, and you might as well what

you did not do. And a answer I am try to get Fanny into heaven as inside respeckfully determined for to have." the doors of Longbourne, so long as she

"Oh, Aunt Keziah, please !" pleaded remains there; and she will remain there, Fanny, who was lying on the sofa, and I take it, until she dies. Now, Mrs. who had become very pink during this Webber, I'll be perfectly frank with you. speech.

Your writing to Mrs. Stannisorth, as you “Now, my dear, don't you worrit your propose, would give me about as much self. I know my dooty, and your husband pain as anything could do. Mrs. Stanniwill see his, if it's put to him plain. For forth is in a good deal of trouble just close upon a year I've held my tongue; now, owing to various things that bave but the time has come now for him to occurred that

very

letter which you are acknowledge you before the world, and I stroking your nose with was written a few mean he shall do it too."

days ago to tell me about them — and if Philip shrugged his shoulders wearily. this blow comes upon her as an addition • My good Mrs. Webber, what is the use to them, I believe it will very nearly break of your bothering me in this way? I ber heart. That would distress me, and told you before that I must decline to wouldn't do you an atoin of good. You discuss the subject with you."

probably know enough of your sex to be “Very well, sir; then you will drive me aware that she would set you down as an to take measures which it goes against interested old schemer, and Fanny, at me to take them. To-morrow I write to best, as a willing instrument in your Mrs. Stanniforth, and I tell her the whole hands. I grant you that she and hier truth. I have her address, you see, sir," mother will have to make the best of what added Mrs. Webber, holding up an enve- they will consider a bad business in the lope which Pbilip recognized.

long run; but, if you will let me manage " Oho! so you've been reading my let things in my own way, they may eventu. ters," said he.

ally consent to take Fanny by the hand; “A speech which no gentleman would whereas, if you precipitate matters, the make,"returned Mrs. Webber, with awful chances are that they will refuse to hear calınness. “ No, sir; I have not read her name mentioned, and will use their your letters, nor wouldn't_so demean influence to get me into the Australian myself if it was ever so. But a henve- police, or something of that kind. Now lope is what all the world may look at.” you can do as you like." And indeed the envelope in question bore Maybe you are speaking the truth," the words Longbourne, Crayminster, in said Mrs. Webber. “ Lord knows whether sufficiently large capitals.

you are or not; but what you say sounds Philip had thought it wisest to shroud like sense. I shan't interfere without you the whereabouts of his home in mystery, drive me to it,” she continued, after tak. but, with his usual carelessness about ing counsel with herself for a minute or matters of detail, had left clear evidence two; " but mind this : if ever you take it upon the subject on his dressing-table. into your head to desert my niece

“I suppose you know," he remarked, “ Aunt Keziah,” cried Fanny, starting " that there is nothing to prevent Mrs. up froin her couch with her cheeks aflame, Stanniforth from cutting me off with a " I won't sit here and let you talk so! shilling whenever she pleases."

How can you say such wicked things! “I don't think, sir," answered Mrs. You don't understand my Philip one bit.” Webber, smiling, “that she will do that." And she threw her arms round her Phil.

Well, no; candidly speaking, I don't ip's neck protectingly. think she will. She has a weakness for He disengaged himself gently, saying, a certain worthless individual, and upon “Lie down again, Fan, and don't agitate that you appear to have calculated. I yourself. Imitate me: you see I am not may as well tell you, though, that between agitated. Your Aunt Keziah takes a low forgiving me and receiving my wife there view of human nature; which is to be is à vast difference. Mrs. Stanniforth, regretted for everybody's sake, and espe

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66

CHAPTER XV.

cially for her own. Try, my dear Mrs. | Margaret's infinite distress, she took to Webber, to rise to a higher moral level, her bed for twenty-four hours, and sent and bear in mind that, as Fanny justly for the doctor, who unfeelingly ordered remarks, you don't understand me one her to get up forth with and go out of bit. That thought may make you easier doors. at times when you are inclined to suspect Tom Stanniforth, as in duty bound, me of being a consummate villain. Be walked up, after a day or two, to call upon sides, you have got the address, you his sister-in-law; but, as ill-luck would know."

have it, Mrs. Winnington and Edith had “Yes; I've got the address,” said Mrs. selected that very, afternoon to pay a Webber, slapping the pocket into which round of visits, and consequently missed she had thrust Mrs. Stanniforth's enve him. The elder lady's disgust at this lope.

contretemps was not lessened by the news “ So that you will always have it in that Mr. Stannisorth had been persuaded your power to throw the fat in the fire. to remain on a few days longer with the That reflection is likely to be a comfort to Brunes She still persisted in declaring you. And now, as there seems to be to herself, as well as to Margaret, that bis nothing more to be said, suppose we have visit, whether long or short, could have no some of that mulled claret which you very serious consequences ; still, having brew so admirably, and drink the baby's nothing else to think about, she allowed health."

herself to brood over the subject until it Thus Philip glided lightly away from a became a torment to her, and at last peril which had frightened him more than being a woman to whom inaction was unmight have been supposed from his man- bearable — she made up her mind to go per of treating it.

over to Broom Leas and speak a few words “in a friendly way" to Mr. Brune. The words that had hitherto passed be.

tween her and that gentleman had not MRS. WINNINGTON RECEIVES A SHOCK.

commonly been very friendly ones, nor During the weeks which Philip had was her feeling towards him of a very spent agreeably in perfecting himself in friendly nature ; but that, as she pointed the parts of husband, father, and vocalist, out to Margaret, who ventured upon a time bad not stood still at Longbourne. mild protest against her resolution, " The period, indeed, had been an unusu- not the question.” Accordingly, she really exciting one in the history of that quested the use of a carriage for the aftersmall world, and had brought about rebel. noon, and drove over to Broom Leas in lions, battles, conferences, and treaties, state, not knowing very well, perhaps, all of which must now be in due course what she was going to say when she got recorded.

there, but feeling that at least it would be Mrs. Winnington, whom we left admin- a satisfaction to her to be upon the spot. istering a well-deserved lecture to her That it is always well to be “ upon the youngest daughter, was so little relieved spot " was a maxim which had been freby that exercise, and so much put out by quently in Mrs. Winnington's mouth in the various incidents of the afternoon, the course of a very fairly successful cathat her temper entered upon one of its reer; and in truth it was doubtful whether, worst and gloomiest phases; and even if she had not been so palpably and unthe sudden retirement of Marescalchi, flinchingly upon the spot, in Whitehall and which at ordinary times would have given elsewhere, at certain times, her sons would her great satisfaction, drew nothing more have got on as well in their several profrom her than a passing expression of her fessions as they have done. utter disbelief in his purpose of working Mrs. Winnington was by way of being either at law or at anything else. Nor short-sighted; but her eyes were capable did she at all enjoy being left in a great, of doing a good stroke of work when any silent house, with no one to speak to ex. sudden demand was made upon them; cept her two daughters, neither of whom and it so chanced that, as the victoria in happened to be a person with whom it which she was seated turned briskly in was possible to pick a quarrel. From at the gates of Broom Leas, she distinctly sheer' lack of a more worthy antagonist, saw a manly form which was familiar to she fell foul of Mrs. Prosser upon some her standing at the entrance of the farmpoint of domestic economy, and was yard in close proximity to a small and routed with great loss; after which, to girlish one which she also recognized

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without difficulty. She saw more than decent order at this time of year. The this, for she saw that she was seen; and mere sweeping up of the leaves takes she saw worse, for she saw Mr. Stanni- three men all their time from morning to forth, in the most barefaced manner, walk night." away and conceal himself behind an ad- “They must be three very lazy men,' jacent rick. Nellie came forward, and remarked Nellie, who knew as well as any. met her visitor at the front door.

body how much could be accomplished in “How do you do?” says Mrs. Win- a fair day's work. She could not refrain nington, alighting slowly, and favoring from adding, “ There is very nearly as Miss Brune with a full view of the lowered much turf here as at Longbourne.” eyelids and faint smile which with her “You don't say so! Well, I'm sure were the outward and visible signs of an your gardener deserves every credit. inward and heartfelt superiority. “Is And I notice that you always manage to your father anywhere about ?"

have a few flowers, too, to make the place “Impudent old woman!” thought Nel- look bright. But perhaps Mr. Brune

“ what does she mean by speaking to takes an interest in flowers. One so me as if she had come to buy butter and often sees the garden quite neglected in

She said aloud, “Won't you houses where there is no mistress; and come in, Mrs. Winnington ? I don't that is such a pity.” know where my father is; but he went “There is a mistress in this house,” out with his gun some time ago, and I said Nellie shortly. hardly expect him back before dark. Do “ To be sure there is, my dear,” rejoined you want to see him about anything in Mrs. Winnington, patting her on the particular?"

shoulder quite affectionately; “ but she is “Oh, no,” answered Mrs. Winnington; a very young mistress, and not a very ex. “nothing very particular. If he had been perienced one. I ought not, perhaps, to in, I should have liked to ask him whether have used the word mistress; I was thinkhe had heard anything about the Octo-ing rather of houses where there is no pus' beiny ordered to the west-African mother." station. You know my son has just been “ As far as gardening goes, I don't see appointed to her as first lieutenant, and I why there being no mother should make understood that one of your brothers had any great difference," observed Nellie. also joined her lately."

(“What in the world is she driving at? I “ The west-African station !” exclaimed hope she'll come to the point before I lose Nellie in consternation; "oh, I do hope my temper and say something rude.”) not! No, I am sure we had heard noth- Mrs. Winnington had her point quite ing of the kind. When Harry wrote, he clearly before her eyes, and, having exesaid they were to join the Channel fleet." cuted these cumbrous preliminary cir

“ Perhaps it is not true," said Mrs. clings in the air, was now ready to swoop Winnington, who had in fact invented down upon it. this pretext for her call upon the spur of As far as gardening goes !” she said. the moment; "there are always so many • But, unfortunately, there are many other absurd rumors going about. As you have ways in which the loss of a mother is an heard nothing, it probably is not true. irreparable one.” Nellie thought that, in No, I won't go in, thank you; but, since the case of some people whom she knew, I am here, I will just take a turn round there might be considerations which would the garden with you, my dear, if you can go far towards mitigating the bereavement spare me a few minutes. I should be alluded to; but she had the self-restraint rather glad of the opportunity of saying to abstain from saying this: and Mrs. something to you which – which, in fact, Winnington proceeded. I think you ought to be told.”

“I am soyaverse to anything that might Nellie opened her eyes rather wide. have the appearance of meddling that I Never before had she been called “my generally prefer to remain silent, even dear” by Mrs. Winnington, and her imag- when I feel that a word in season might ination failed to suggest to her any clue be of real service; but the question is to the significance of this portent.

whether that motive for silence is not “How neat and tidy your lawn always really a wrong and selfish one — whether is !” said Mrs. Winnington graciously. one ought not to think only of doing one's “That is the advantage of a small garden. duty to one's neighbors – to point out to Now at Longbourne we find that it is next people when they make themselves ridicto impossible to keep the grounds in ulous."

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“As you would they should do unto | Nellie, who had now found her tongue. you,” put in Nellie, whose patience was “My friends know perfectly well that I fast ebbing away; If you don't mind my would die rather than marry any one of telling you in what way you seem to me the name of Standiforth; and as for other ridiculous, Mrs. Winnington, I can't ob- people, it makes no difference to me what ject to letting you do as much for me.” they say. It might amuse Mr. Stanniforth

"My dear, you must remember the dif- to hear his name coupled with mine; but ference in our ages. It would be hardly I assure you it would not amuse me at all. becoming in you to call me ridiculous, Impertinent and false things are said even if I were so; and that is just one of about everybody, I suppose : what I canthose things which a mother would enable not understand is that any one should you to see.

have the courage to repeat them to the "I suppose it would be no use to try person of whom they are said." and stop you, Mrs. Winnington, but I Nellie was quite aware that, having may as well tell you beforehand that, so thus delivered herself, she would best long as my father does not consider me consult her self-respect by saying no ridiculous, I shall not trouble myself in more; but feminine nature got the better the least about what you, or anybody else, of her, and, after a short and sharp strug. may happen to think of me.'

gle, she added: “You need not be at all "Ah!” said Mrs. Winnington, “that alarmed, Mrs. Winnington. Rich as Mr. is just the spirit in which I expected to be Stanniforth is, he does not exactly belong met. That is exactly the sort of speech to the class into which our family has which a motherless girl would be sure to been accustomed to marry." make. You do not understand now, “Why, my good girl," cried Mrs. Winthough you will understand some day, vington quite unaffectedly and coarsely, that no one can afford to fly in the face of your mother was only a banker's daughsociety. In the present instance your ter!” father would naturally be the last man in There was thus a momentary risk of the world to hear what people are saying this interview coming to an end in a deabout you."

plorably vulgar manner; but happily both “ And what are people saying about combatants saw the danger, and controlled me ?” asked Nellie, stopping short and themselves. Mrs. Winnington left rather facing Mrs. Winnington, who, however, hastily, but without further loss of dignity, continued her slow progress across the and was upon the whole very well satislawn.

fied with the afternoon's work. Had this Well, I must say that I blame your rather dull-witted woman been a female father a little; it is partly his fault. When Machiavelli, she could hardly have played one has a daughter of your age, one can- her cards more adroitly, or have taken not be too particular, and he has been, to more certain means of gaining her end, say the least of it, thoughtless. I should than she had done; but, as a matter of be sorry to hurt your feelings; but it is fact, no credit for successful diplomacy best to tell the truth, and you know one was due to her upon this occasion. It cannot follow up a rich bachelor in that would never have occurred to her to res. persistent way without setting people's cue her intended prey by stirring up Miss tongues going. I would not for one mo- Brune's pride, because it would never ment insinuate that either you or your have occurred to her to suppose that that father knew what you were doing; and as young lady could have any pride for Mr. Stanniforth, I think I may confi- ury in which, according to Mrs. Winning. dently say on his behalf that he would be ton's notions, only the noble and wealthy very much amused at the idea of his could afford to indulge. In speaking as name being coupled with yours. Still the she had done, she had been actuated simfact remains that he is staying at your ply and solely by an amiable wish to make house, instead of at Longbourne.” the girl uncomiortable. She had herself

Nellie was too furious to do more than been made somewhat uncomfortable by ejaculate “ ON!!" under her breath. Stanniforth's walking behind that

“Of course," continued her companion stack under her very eyes and by Nellie's benevolently, “it does not matter to him; virtual participation in this affront; and but I know so well what is invariably said her desire had been to retaliate without in these cases. It is the poor girl who is delay, and further to let the young woman pitied and laughed at, and

understand that, whoever might win or " Thank you; that will do,” interrupted lose the prize, it would assuredly not fall

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to her share. She flattered herself that box, or one of those pews which are still she had succeeded in both of these noble to be met with in a few old-fashioned aims. As for Miss Brune's indignant churches, whence you looked down upon repudiation of a possible alliance with a curious apse-like chamber, tacked on to any Stanniforth whatever, she took that the house by a seventeenth-century Brune for what she considered it to be worth. for some purpose unknown. It may have The impertinence of it had made her been intended to serve as a theatre, or rather angry for the moment; but, as the possibly as a private chapel: of late years thing could obviously have been only said it had fallen into disuse, being a gloomy with a view to impertinence, it was bardly and ill-lighted apartment, and was seldom worth remembering. The important point entered by anybody, except by the housewas that Mr. Stanniforth was not likely maids who swept it out from time to time. to be pressed to postpone his departure Some one, however, was in it now. Mrs. a second time, and that in a day or two Winnington, with her hand on the lock of he would be restored to his anxious friends her daughter's door, was startled by the at Longbourne. After that, Edith must sound of voices arising from that quarter, be made to bestir herself more, and per- and it was a matter of course that she haps it might even be well that something should at once make her way along the in the nature of a conditional engagement passage as stealthily as might be, and should be entered upon before he left. peer over the edge of the gallery to see It will be perceived that Mrs. Winnington bat might be going on below. herself was not overburdened by any She arrived in time to witness a scene foolish pride.

so startling that she very nearly put a When she reached home she found the dramatic finish to it then and there by drawing-room and library untenanted, falling headlong over the balustrade, which Margaret and Edith having, it was to be was a low one. Upon an ottoman directly presumed, gone out for a walk. Now it beneath her, her daughter Edith was a habit of Mrs. Winnington's, when- sitting in a very pretty and graceful atti. ever she found the house empty, to prowl tude, her elbow'resting on her knee and all over it, peeping into blotting-books, ber face hidden by her right hand, while opening drawers, occasionally going so her left was held by Walter Brune, who far as to read letters that might be lying was kneeling at her feet. And this is handy, and

- as Mrs. Prosser, who hated what that audacious young reprobate was her with a perfect hatred, would say - saying, in accents which rose towards the “poking and rummaging about as any roof with perfect distinctness : under-housemaid that I caught at such “Now, my darling girl, you must not tricks should be dismissed immediate, allow yourself to be so cowed by that awand no character given."

ful old mother of yours. There! I beg It is probable that Mrs. Winnington your pardon: I didn't intend to speak dissaw no harm at all in such pokings and respectfully of her, but it came out before rummagings. Her daughters, she would I could stop myself. What I mean is, have said, had no secrets from her, or at you mustn't let her bully you to that ex. all events ought not to have any. Nor tent that you daren't call your soul your had she any particular end to serve in own. Stand up to her boldly, and depend entering other people's bedrooms. For upon it she'll knock under in the long run. some occult reason it gave her pleasure When all's said and done, she can't eat to do so, and the present occasion being you alive.” favorable for the gratifying of her lastes, The feelings of the astounded listener she proceeded to profit by it. First she overhead may be imagined. made a thorough examination of all the Ah, you don't understand," sighed reception rooms; then she went up-stairs, Edith. “It is easy enough for a man to and spent some time in overhauling the talk of standing up for himself; but you contents of Margaret's wardrobe; and don't consider how different it is with us." then she passed on to the room at that “But I do understand – I do consider," time occupied by Edith, which opened declared Walter, scrambling up to his feet. out of a long corridor where the family "I know it's awfully hard upon you, my portraits had hung in the days when the dearest; but wouldn't it be harder still to owners of Longbourne had possessed a marry some decrepid old lord to please family to be thus commemorated. This your mother, and to be miserable and corridor had a peculiarity. It terminated ashamed of yourself for the rest of your in a small gallery, resembling a theatre. life?"

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