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lighted a candle, drew down the blind - in her mind. Her listeners gained a sense shutting out the glare from the street lamp of restfulness which comes from being in —and going slowly to the Davenport in the presence of a real person from whom the corner, unlocked it, opened a little they might take bitter or sweet, certain of secret drawer, and looked in. There were its reality. “I hoped from Mr. Fisher's three five-pound notes there — the remain- note that you had arrived before, and vender of her mother's gift. “I wonder if tured to call on Saturday." Mrs. North had Madame Celestine's bill," “Did you see Mrs. Baines ?she thought. “But it doesn't matter; she “Only for a moment. What a charm. said it was fifteen pounds. I can send her ing old lady!--such old-fashioned coure the amount."

tesy, it was like being sent back fifty years A couple of hours later, while she was to listen to her. She wanted me to stay, in the very act of putting a cheque into but I refused, for she was just setting off an envelope, a note arrived. It had been for a drive with your children and her left by hand; it was scented with violets, nephew." and ran thus :

* Setting off for a drive ?” Florence

repeated. “ DEAR MRS. HIBBERT, — I have ventured to pay Madame Celestine. I deter from the Blue Lion, and was going to

Yes, she had Steggall's wagonette mined to do so while I was with you just Guildford shopping. She said she meant now; but was afraid to tell you, that was

to buy some surprises for you." why I changed the conversation so ab

“Oh,” said Florence meekly, and her ruptly. Please don't let the old lady know heart sank. “Did you say that she had that it is my doing, for she might be an

a nephew with her ? gry; but she was very good to me, and I

"Well, I supposed it was a nephew, am glad to do this for her. Forgive all unless she has a son; a tall, fair young the strange things I said this afternoon. man, who looks delicate, and walks as if and don't trouble to acknowledge this.

his legs were not very strong.' “ Yours sincerely,

“Oh yes, I know," Florence answered “E. NORTH.

as she signed to the fly she had engaged "P.S. -- I enclose receipt.”

to come nearer to the donkey.cart so that

she might not waste a minute. “He is a CHAPTER X.

friend; he is no relation. Good-bye, Mrs. It was not till Tuesday afternoon in Burnett; I am sorry you are going away. the week following that Florence got back I suppose you are waiting for the fast to Witley.

train, as Mr. Burnett did not come by this Mrs. Burnett was at the station, sitting one?” in a little governess-cart drawn by a don- “ Yes, it is due in twenty minutes. key.

Good-bye; so sorry not to have been at • I am waiting for my husband," she home during your visit. Oh, Mrs. Hibexplained; "he generally comes by this bert, do you ihink your children would train, and I drive him home, donkey per- like to have the use of this cart while we mitting. It is a dear little donkey, and we are away? The donkey is so gentle and are so fond of him."

so good.” A dear little cart, too,” Florence an- "It is too kind of you to think of it," swered as she stood by its side, talking. Florence began, beaming; for she thought “I have been hoping that you would come of how Catty and Monty would shout for to see me, Mrs. Burnett; we are going joy at having a donkey.cart to potter about to be here for six or seven weeks." in; and in her secret soul, though she felt

“I know, Mr. Fisher told me,” Mrs. it would not do to betray it, she was nearly Burnett replied in her sweet and rather as much pleased as they would be. Florintense voice, “and we are so sorry that ence often had an inward struggle for the your visit takes place just while we are dignity with which she felt her matronly away. I am going to Devonshire to mor- position should be supported. row morning to stay with my mother while “It will be such a pleasure to lend it my husband goes to Scotland. I am so-o them. It's a dear little donkey, so good sorry," — she had a way of drawing out and gentle. It doesn't go well," Mrs. her words as if to give them emphasis. Burnett added, in an apologetic tone; Florence liked to look at Mrs. Burnett's “ but it's a dear little donkey, and does eyes while she spoke, they always seemed everything else well.” And over this reto attest that every word she said ex. mark Florence pondered much as she pressed the absolute meaning and intention drove to the cottage.

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As she caught sight of the house she “it's another present," and regretfully her wondered if she had been absent more fingers undid ihe string. Inside the white than half an hour, or at all. She had left paper was a little pin-cushion covered with it in the afternoon more than a week ago, blue velvet, and having round it a rim of and the children had stood out in the road silver filigree work. Attached to it was a way dancing and waving their handker- little note which ran thus :chiefs till she was out of sight. As she came back, there they stood dancing and token of my love and gratitude. I feel

“MY DARLING,

Accept this little waving their handkerchiefs again. They that there is no way in which I can better shouted for joy as she got out of the fly.

“ Welcome, my darling, welcome," Aunt prove how much I appreciated your genAnne, who was behind them, exclaimed. Terous gift to me than by spending a por “ These dear children and I have been tion of it on a token of my affection to watching more than an hour for you. En- you; I trust you will honor my little gift

with ter your house, my love. It is indeed a

your acceptance.” privilege to be here to receive you." “Oh," said Florence again, in despair,

“ It is a privilege to come back to so “ I wonder if she has once thought of Mawarm a welcome,” Florence said when, dame Celestine's bill or the others. What having embraced her children and Aunt is the good of giving her money if one Apne, she was allowed to enter the cot. gets it back in the shape of presents ? " tage ; "and how comfortable and nice it But she could not bear to treat the old looks !” she exclaimed, as she stopped at lady's generosity with coldness. So Aunt the dining-room doorway. There was a Anne was thanked, and the cushion adwood fire blazing, and the tea set out, and mired, and a happy little party gathered the water in the silver kettle singing, and round the tea-table. hot cakes in a covered dish in the fender. “ And have you had any visitors except Flowers set off the table and in the pots Mrs. Burnett?” Florence asked artfully, about the room were boughs of autumn when the meal was over. leaves. It all looked cosy and inviting, “We have had Mr. Wimple," Aunt and wore a festival air — festival that Flor. Anne said ; "he is far from well, my love, ence knew had been made for her. She and is trying to recruit at Liphook.” turned and kissed the old lady gratefully. “Oh yes, he has friends there." “Dear Aunt Anne," she said, and that was “No, my love, not now. He is at presthanks enough.

ent lodging with an old retainer." " I thought, my love, that you

would like “And have you been to see him ? " to partake of a substantial tea with your “No, dear Florence, he preferred that I dear children on your return. Your later should not do so.” evening meal I have arranged to be a very “ We took him lots of rides," said slender one."

Monty. “ But you are too good, Aunt Anne.” “And Aunt Anne gave him a present,'

"It is you who have been too good to said Catty, “and he put it into his pocket me," the old lady answered tenderly. and never looked at it. He didn't know “And now, my darling, let me take you up what was inside the paper, - we did, to your chamber; it is ready for your re. didn't we, auntie ?" ception."

* My dear children,” Mrs. Baines said, There was a triumphant note in her “if your mother will give you permission voice that prepared Florence for the fire you had better go to the nursery. It is in her grate and the bouquet on the dress. past your hour for bed, my dear ones.” ing-table, and all the little arrangements The children looked a little dismayed, that Mrs. Baines had devised to add to her but they never dreamt of disobeying. comfort. It was very cheery, she thought; “Was it wrong to say you gave him a Aunt Anne had a knack of making one present?” asked Catty, with the odd per. enjoy a home-coming. She pulled out ception of childhood, as she put up her Walter's letter and sat for a few moments face to be kissed. alone over the bedroom fire, and read it " My dears," answered Aunt Anne and kissed it and put it back into her sweetly, "in my day children did not talk pocket. Then she looked round the cosy with their elders unless they were invited room again, and noticed a little packet on to do so." the corner of the drawers. Aunt Anne “We didn't know,” said Catty ruefully. must have placed it there when she went “No, my darlings, I know that. Bless out of the room. On it was written, For you,” continued the old lady sweeily; my darling Florence. “Ob,” she said, I and good-night, my dear ones. Under

a

your pillows you will each find a chocolate haughtily. “I repeat that it was most which auntie placed there for you this presumptuous of her to call upon you - a morning."

liberty, a - Florence," she went on with “ And did you enjoy the drives?” Flor- sudden alarm in her voice, “ I hope you ence asked, when the children had gone. did not promise to go to see her."

* Yes, my dear, thank you." Mrs. “ She never asked me." Baines was silent for a moment. Then " I should have put my veto on it if she she raised her hea and as if she had had. My dear, you must trust to my more gathered courage, went on in a slightly mature judgment in some things. I know louder tone, " I thought it would do your the world better than you do. Believe dear children good, Florence, to see the me, I have my reasons for every word I country, and, therefore, I ventured to take say. I treated Mrs. North with the greatthem some drives. Occasionally Mr. est clemency and consideration, though Wimple was so kind as to accompany us.

.” she frequently forgot what was due to me. "And I hope they did him good, too,” I was blind while I stayed with her, Flor. Florence said, trying not to betray her ence, and did not see many things that I amusement.

do now; for I am not prone to think ill of “Yes, my love, I trust they did."

any one.

You know that, my love, do you Then Florence remembered the bills noi? I must beg that you will never, on paid by Mrs. North. They were all in any account, mention Mrs. North's name sealed envelope in her pocket, but she again in my presence.”. could not gather the courage to deliver it. Florence felt as if the envelope would She wanted to ask after Sir William Ram- burn a hole in her pocket. It was imposmage, too, to know whether he had written sible to deliver it now. Perhaps after all yet and settled the question of an allow- the wisest way would be to say nothing ance; but for that, also, her courage failed about it. She had an idea that Aunt Anne

the old lady always resented questions. frequently forgot all about her bills as Then she remembered Mr. Fisher's re- soon as she had come to the conclusion mark about Alfred Wimple's writing, and that it was impossible to make them any thought it would please Aunt Anne to longer. She searched about in her mind for hear of it.

some other topic of conversation. It was “ Mr. Fisher says that Mr. Wimple often difficult to find a subject to talk about writes very well; he has been doing some with Aunt Anne, for the old lady never reviewing for the paper.”

suggested one herself, and except of past Mrs. Baines winked with satisfaction. experiences and old-world recollections

“I am quite sure he writes well, my she seldom seemed sufficiently interested love," she answered quickly, “he is a to talk much. Happily, as it seemed for most accomplished man."

the moment, Jane entered with the house. “ And is there no more news to relate, keeping books. They were always brought Aunt Anne?” Florence asked; "no more in on a Tuesday, and paid on a Wednesdoings during my absence?

day morning. Florence was very particu“No, my love, I think not."

lar on this point. They usually gave her “ Then I have some news for you. I a bad half-hour, for she could never conhope it won't vex you, for I know you trive to keep them down as much as she were very angry with her. Mrs. North desired. That week, however, she rehas been to see me. She really came to flected that they could not be very bad; see you, but when she found you had gone besides, she had left four pounds with out of town she asked for me."

Aunt Anne, which must be almost intact, Mrs. Baines looked almost alarmed and unless the drives had been paid out of very angry.

them; but even then there would be “It was most presumptuous of her," plenty left to more than cover the books. she exclaimed.

The prospect of getting through her ac. “But why, Aunt Anne ? " Florence counts easily cheered Florence, for she asked, astonished.

always found a satisfaction in balancing “She had no right; she had not my them. permission."

"They are heavy this week, ma'am," “ But, dear Aunt Ande, she came to see Jane said, not without a trace of triumph you; and why should it be presumptu. in her voice, “ on account of the chickens ous?"

and the cream and the company." “I should prefer not to discuss the “ The chickens and the creain and the subject. I have expressed my opinion, company," laughed Florence, as Jane went and that is sufficient,” Mrs. Baines said out of the room ; "it sounds like a line

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66

from a comic poem. What does she Florence longed to ask where, but a mean?"

certain stiffness in Aunt Anne's manner Aunt Anne winked as if to give herself made it impossible. nerve.

“ Have you any news from London ?" “Jane was very impertinent to me one she ventured to inquire, for she was long. day, my love, because I felt sure that after ing to know about Sir William Rammage. the fatigue of the journey from town, and “ No, my love, I have no news from the change of air, you would prefer that London," Mrs. Baines answered, and she your delicately nurtured children should evidently meant to say no more. eat chicken and have cream with their second course every day for dinner, in- In the morning much time was taken up stead of roast mutton and milk pudding with the arrival of the donkey.cart and the White meat is infinitely preferable for delight of the children. A great basket delicate digestions.".

of apples was inside the cart, and on the “ Yes, dear Aunt Anne,” Florence said top was a little note explaining that they sweetly, and she felt a sudden dread of came from Mrs. Burneti's garden, and she opening the books, "you are quite right." hoped the children might like them. Aurt What did a few chickens and a little cream Anne was as much pleased with the donmatter in comparison to the poor old lady's key as the rest of the party. feelings, she thought. “And if you had • There is a rusticity in the appearance company, too, of course you wanted to of a donkey,” she explained, “ that always have a smarter table. Whom have you gives me a sense of being really in the been entertaining, you dear and dissipated country.” Aunt Anoe?”

“Not when you meet him in London, I “My dear Florence, I have entertained fear,” Florence said. no one but Mr. Wimple. He is a friend Mrs. Baines considered for a moment. of yours and your dear Walter's, and I She seemed to resent the observation. tried to prove to him that I was worthy to No, my love, of course not in London; belong to you, by showing him such hos. I am speaking of the country," she said pitality as lay in my power.”

reprovingly; then she added, "I should “Yes, dear, and it was very kind of enjoy a little drive occasionally myself if you,” Florence said tenderly. After all, you would trust me with the cari, my love. why should Aunt Anne be worried through It would remind me of days gone by. I that horrid Mr. Wimple? Walter would sometimes drove one at Rottingdean. You have invited him if he had found him in are very fortunate, my dear one, in having the neighborhood, and why should not so few sorrows to remember -- for I trust Aunt Anne do so in peace, if it pleased you have few. It always saddens me to her? Of course, now that she herself ihink of the past. Let'us go indoors.” had returned she could do as she liked Florence put her arm through the old about him. She looked at the books. lady's, and led her in. Then she thought They were not so very bad, after all. of the books again; it would be a good

“Shall we make up our accounts now, time to make them up. and get it over, or in the morning ?" she “I am always particular about my acasked.

counts, you know, Aunt Anne,” she said “I should prefer the morning," Aunt in an apologetic tone. Anne said meekly. “To-night, love, you “ Yes, my love," answered the old lady; must be tired, and I am also fatigued "I admire you for it.” with the excitement consequent on seeing Florence looked at the figures; they you."

made her wince a little, but she said noth" What a shame, poor Aunt Anne !” ing. Florence said brightly. “I have worn “ The bill for the wagonettes, Aunt

Anne?" she asked. “Only with happiness, my dear,” said “ That belongs to me, my dear.” the old lady fondly.

“Oh no, I can't allow that." Florence put away her books, and My love, I made an arrangement with stroked Aunt Anne's shoulder as she Mr. Steggall, and that is sufficient." passed.

Again Aunt Anne's tone forbade any “We will do our work in the morning,” discussion. Florence felt sure that one she said.

day Steggall's bill would arrive, but she “Yes, my darling, in the morning. In said nothing. the afternoon I may possibly have an en- “Do you mind giving me the change gagement."

out of the four pounds ? ” she asked very

you out."

gently. Mrs. Baines went slowly over to born." The treble pote had come into her work-basket, and took up a little dress Aunt Anne's voice; it was a sign that tears she was making for Catty.

were not far off. “Not now, my love; I want to get on But Florence could not feel as compaswith my work."

sionate as she desired. She smarted un"Perhaps I could get your account-book, der the loss of her money. There was Aunt Anne; then I should know how much nothing at all to represent it, and Aunt there is left."

Anne did not seem to have the least idea Mrs. Baines began to sew.

that it had been of any consequence. “I did not put anything down in the Florence got up and put the books away, account-book," she said doggedly. “I looking across at Aunt Anne while she considered, dear Florence, that my time did so. The expression on the old lady's was too valuable. It always seems to me face was set, and almost angry; her lips great nonsense to put down every peony were firmly closed. She was working at one spends."

Catty's litile dress. She was a beautiful “It is a great check on oneself.”. needle-woman, and embroidered little cuffs

“I do not wish to keep a check on my and collars on the children's things that self,” Mrs. Baines answered scorpfully. were a source of joyful pride to Florence.

“ Could you tell me how much you have But even the host of stitches would not left? Florence asked meekly. “I hope pay the week's bills. If only Aunt Anne there may be enough to help us through could be made to understand the value of the week."

money, Florence thought — but it was no She did not like to say that she thought use thinking, for her foolish, housekeeping it must be nearly all left.

heart was full of domestic woe. She went “Florence," burst out the old lady with up-stairs to her own room, and, like a real the injured tone in her voice that Florence woman who makes no pretence to strong. knew so well, “I have but ten shillings mindedness, sat down to cry. left in the world. If you wish to take it “ If Walier were only back," she sobbed, from me you must do so; but it is not like as she rubbed her tearful face against the you, my darling.”

cushions on the back of the basket-chair “Oh, Aunt Anne,” Florence began, be- by the fireside. “If he were here I should wildered, “I am sure you I did not not mind, I might even laugh then. But mean - I did not know

after I have tried and tried so hard to save I'm sure you did not,” Mrs. Baines and to spend so little, it is hard, and I said, with a sense of injury still in her don't know what to do.” She pulled out voice, “but there is nothing so terrible or Walter's letter again and kissed it by way so galling to a sensitive nature like mine of getting a little comfort, and as she did - and your dear Walter's takes after it, so, felt the envelope containing the reFlorence, I am sure - as to be worried ceipts of the bills Mrs. North had paid. about money matters."

She did not believe that Aunt Anne cared “But indeed, Aunt Anne, I only thought whether they were paid or not paid. She that — that but here she stopped, always seemed to think that ihe classes not knowing how to go on for a moment; who were what she pleased to consider “I thought that perhaps the unpaid books beneath her, were invented simply for her represented the household expenses," she use and convenience, and that protest in added at last. Really, something must be any shape on their part was mere imper. done to make the old lady careful, she tinence. thought.

The day dragged by. The children pre. “My love,” Mrs. Baines said, with an venied the dinner-hour from being as awk. impatient shake of her head, “I cannot go ward as it might have been. Mrs. Baines into the details of every little expense. I was cold and courteous. Florence had no am not equal to it. Everything you do words to say. She would make it up with not find charged in the books has either the old lady in the evening, when they been paid, or will be charged, by my re. were alone, she thought. Of course she quest, to my private account, and you must would have to make it up. Meanwhile she leave it so. I really cannot submit to would go for a long walk, it would do her being made to give an explanation of every good. She could think things over quietly, penny I spend. I am not a child, Flor. as she tramped along a lonely road be. ence. I am not an inexperienced girl; Itween the hedges of faded gorse and had kept house before, my love - if you heather. But it was late in the afternoon will allow me to say so - before you were before she had energy enough to start.

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