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to them than if they had been little lords and ladies dressed in all their best.
He recollected one night following up Cheapside a man and a woman who must have attracted his attention mightily at the time, for he never subsequently quite forgot them.
The man was a tall, longlimbed, loose-built fellow--a navvy probably-at all events one who evidently gained his living not by the exercise of skilled labour, but at the cost of downright hard work. He was dressed in his working clothes; was returning home, very likely, after a day of physical toil. The woman was a small slight creature of his own rank, clad likewise in her everyday apparel: a cotton gown, an old plaid shawl, a straw bonnet that had seen service: a husband and wife who, no doubt, at times knew what the pinch of poverty meant, but who were not povertystricken.
Most likely they never had. possessed five pounds at any one time in their lives; it seemed almost certain they never could own such a sum. Amongst welldressed well-to-do people they pursued their way in silence, not stopping to look in at shop-windows, not passing remarks on the sights which met their eyes-the throng of vehicles, the rush of pedestrians; for Cheapside was then a much more busy and attractive thoroughfare than it is now they passed along, considered of no account; not regarded by the people they met, but still hand in hand.
The sight produced a deep impression upon Mr. Moffat-he was not Sir John at that time. The incident recurred to his memory as he turned in at the gates of Holyrood House.
Not all his money had been
able to purchase for him anything like that. He remembered a book some one gave to his sister when she was a girl, called the Poor Rich Man and the Rich Poor Man; and he dreamily thought there was more truth in the double title than many people imagined. He walked up to the door and put his key in the latch, and was about to turn it in the wards, when the lock was opened from within; the door swung slowly back on its hinges, as if by its own volition, for no one appeared on the threshold or in the hall; then a head was thrust cautiously out from behind, a bright pair of eyes sparkled with delight at witnessing his astonishment, a peal of rippling laughter broke the silence, and a pair of soft white hands clasped him round the neck.
'Why, Rachel!' he cried, in astonishment.
'Like a bad shilling, papa.'
My dear, when did you come home?' he asked.
'Half an hour ago, papa.' 'And why?' he continued, still utterly lost in amazement.
'They have got scarlatina down at Ferndale,' she explained, 'and would not let me stop. I wanted
to stay and help—it is poor little Flossy-but the doctor said no; and O, papa, I was so thankful to find you were still in town! We shall have one delightful evening all alone together at any rate.'
'Ever so many if you like, Rachel,' he answered, his face reflecting a little of the sunshine she seemed to have brought into the house with her. 'I won't go to Lancashire now at all.'
OUT OF TOWN.
AT Scarborough Lady Moffat was enjoying herself greatly, after a joyless, dissatisfied, discontented fashion. She found herself all at once that which she had certainly never been before at a wateringplace a person of some distinction.
Miss Banks at once instituted herself as leader, decided where they were to stay, what they were to do, the things they were to see, how they were to amuse themselves. There, as in Kensington, she knew tribes of people; all good-not, perhaps, in the City sense of the slang phrase, or in the meaning unsophisticated persons might be inclined to attach to the words, but in the cant of society. They were quite the best' 'in a right rank'-ladies and gentlemen it was more than safe' to know; being assured of which facts upon so sound an authority, Lady Moffat was graciously pleased to express the pleasure she felt in making their acquaintance.
Miss Banks had an eminently simple plan for enhancing the greatness of those she called friends; she multiplied their possessions by five. It was not too little, and she found it not too much. Thus if a man were the happy owner of an estate bringing in two thousand a year, Miss Banks said his rent-roll was ten; if a girl had a dot of ten thousand pounds, Miss Banks remarked that, with her fifty thousand, she ought to marry well. In these cases, however, she had some basis of fact upon which to erect her superstructure of fiction. The Moffats were in a different category. Sir John might be worth a million, or worth a million less than nothing. She did not know
anything of his affairs, and Lady Moffat could not enlighten her.
I know nothing of business,' said that admirable person, and I have never been in his office in my life.'
'Just like poor dear Mrs. Seaton,' said Miss Banks, with an approving and appreciative smile; but she thought:
'How wonderful it is that all these women, who are dependent upon trade for the bread they eat, and the wine they drink, and the luxuries they enjoy (and where would any one find women able to command so many?), not merely profess to feel indifferent, but actually are indifferent, to the source whence the money on which they live is derived!'
'Sir John is reticent about such matters, I should imagine,' went on Miss Banks aloud, after a pause.
'He does not talk about the City, if that is what you mean,' answered Lady Moffat; 'but then, to be sure, he knows I should not understand him if he did.'
'I often notice that gentlemen who are enormously wealthy do not care to speak about their money; and Sir John, no doubt, is very wealthy indeed.'
'I can't say, I am sure,' answered Lady Moffat. 'I think he must be, though. He was rich when I first knew him, and he must have been getting richer every day since then.'
Here was a golden opportunity, and Miss Banks pounced upon it as a City Arab might on a sovereign. Never before, never once, had Lady Moffat alluded to old times.
'Where did you meet him first?' she asked, in accents full of tender interest. At some charming place in the country, no doubt; or perhaps when you were abroad. I have heard of so many happy
marriages that have come about from people getting to know each other under circumstances where the shackles of this weary social bondage under which we all groan are relaxed.'
Lady Moffat looked at her friend curiously. If the subject had been capable of forming a theme for mirth, she must at that moment have felt amused, so eager was Miss Banks for information, so transparent was her ruse in fishing for what she wanted to obtain.
But the matter chanced to seem the reverse of mirthful in Lady Moffat's eyes. She felt conscious
she had made a slip, and hastened to retrieve it.
'I met my husband in London, Miss Banks,' she said, so coldly that any one save the irrepressible spinster must have been frozen into silence.
Not so Miss Banks.
'Law,' she said, 'in London ! You can't mean it! And I would have wagered my best brooch you were born in the country.'
'You would not have lost your bet,' answered Lady Moffat, that slow sullen fire kindling in her eyes. 'I was born in the country; but still it so chanced that I met Sir John in London.'
'Up in your teens to see the lions, I suppose?' suggested Miss Banks genially.
'No; I did not see any lions, or come to see them,' retorted Lady Moffat. 'I was staying in London with a relative.'
With a relative! Good Heavens, how close Miss Banks was to the scent! If she could only have guessed the degree of kindred, what a mine she might have sprung in Palace Gardens! As matters stood, half the earth could not have separated her more widely from the mystery than was the case. Ah, here comes
Edwina!' cried Lady Moffat; and in a moment that young lady, in a yachting costume and wearing a sailor's hat, under which her hair was tossing wildly, entered the
'Good gracious, child!' cried Lady Moffat, where have you been, and what can you have been doing?
Running after a gentleman's hat, mamma,' answered the girl, her cheeks all aglow, her eyes. sparkling, her lips parted.
'O my dear!' said Miss Banks, in mild expostulation; in fact, Miss Edwina's ways and manners were dreadful to her.
'What a tomboy !' exclaimed Lady Moffat, but not reprovingly: not having studied les convenances for so many years as Miss Banks, the full enormity of Edwina's conduct failed to strike her. Moreover, she was proud of her daughter's beauty, and she was often not sorry to hear the hits that decided young person dealt her new friend.
I and the boys were on the esplanade enjoying this fine breeze,' explained the girl, turning to her mother, and ignoring Miss Banks' remark as completely as though that lady had not been present; there was scarcely another creature out besides ourselves, when we met a gentleman in a bath-chair drawn by a person who looked like a servant-man. Just as we passed, a gust of wind caught his hat, and off it went. The man began to run, and Hal began to run, and Ralph and Jim ran, and then I ran; but the hat ran faster. You never saw such a race! The servant gave up first, and then Hal, but Ralph and Jim and I kept on, and I caught it. I was proud, I can tell you. Hal took it back to the gentleman; and he thanked him and laughed, and said it was the best spin he had ever witnessed.'
Lady Moffat laughed also, Miss Banks groaned.
'Don't you think, Edwina, you are rather too old for such exercises?' she asked.
'No, Miss Banks, I do not,' she answered; and walked out of the room with her chin well up in the air, and her nostrils quivering a little with passion.
'The idea!' she said, as she closed the door after her.
'Was your mother as beautiful as you?' asked Miss Banks innocently. She was devoured with a desire to know who Lady Moffat's parents had been, and why her ladyship's name was not even
mentioned in that book which may be well called the secular Bible.'
Lady Moffat's cheeks burned. Miss Banks was getting very near a mystery now-one with which even Sir John was not acquainted. Brusque in her frankness as her ladyship was and had always been, she knew how to keep her own secrets, and she consequently never
She is such an impulsive darling observed Miss Banks; 'and when she is excited, as she was just now, she is the very image of you, dear Lady Moffat.' 'Yes, she is like me,' agreed informed her husband she resemher ladyship.
'So different from that sweet quiet Rachel. Whom does she take after? There is scarcely a look of you about her, and she is not in the least like Sir John.'
'No, she is not like Sir John,' answered Lady Moffat; 'I suppose she casts back.'
'Where does she cast back to?' asked Miss Banks-Sir John's side of the house?'
'O, no, certainly not to the Moffats,' said her mother hurriedly, and with some irritation.
'How stupid I am! I might have known that,' said Miss Banks softly, and in a tone which implied that, whatever other merits Sir John's family possessed, beauty could not be reckoned among them. Perhaps she resembles your father?'
'Possibly,' agreed Lady Moffat. 'I do not remember him; but he had, I believe, blue eyes and light hair.'.
She spoke indifferently, but she shivered. She knew whose blue eyes looked at her once again out of her daughter's face, whose sunny hair had clustered thick on his forehead, even as the little waves and crinkles lay caressingly on that of his only child.
bled her mother in other respects besides appearance.
'She was very handsome.' The words were nothing, but the manner was something.
'Pray do tell me about her,' exclaimed Miss Banks. I am sure she must have been charming.'
'I do not remember her at all,' said Lady Moffat.
'Died so young. Dear me, how sad!' cried the other sympathetically.
There was a pause-just the merest pause, a shifting glance in Lady Moffat's eyes, a nervous twitch of her mouth-and then she answered quite composedly,
'I lost both father and mother when I was quite a baby.'
'Poor child!' murmured Miss Banks.
Lady Moffat opened her lips. to say something, and then shut them again.
'I wonder when luncheon will be ready,' was the next observation she vouchsafed; 'really this sea-air makes one dreadfully hungry.'
At luncheon, however, Miss Banks noticed she ate very little, but drank two glasses of wine, quite an unusual thing for her to do; for she did not much like wine,
and had hitherto not led a life of such excitement as was likely to cause her to have recourse to either sedatives or stimulants.
In the afternoon Lady Moffat complained of headache, and went to lie down. Edwina, as usual, started out with her brothers. Miss Banks, left alone, began to think. Any one coming into the room would have imagined she was merely knitting quietly, counting her stitches, and absorbed in her work; but the lady's mind was otherwise engaged.
'What in the world is queer about that woman?' she asked herself; there is some secret in her family history, which I wish I could find out. However, it won't do to ask any more questions, I see that plainly. I have made her fidgety already. I never met any one like her before, so shrewd and so dull, so sharp and so stupid, and with such a tremendous love of power. Well, let Sir John be what he will, I should not think he has found existence with her ladyship a bed of roses.'
And at that very moment Lady Moffat was wearily wishing she had not asked Miss Banks to accompany her to Scarborough.
I do not like her so much as I thought,' she decided. She is too fond of meddling-she is a poking, peering, prying, ugly old maid.'
Next day, however, an event occurred which induced both ladies to sink their differences. Walking slowly in the forenoon along the shore-Edwina, fresh from her dip in the sea, following in their wake, her hair streaming down her back, and a huge dog, with which she had made friends, greeting her with frantic demonstrations of joy-the sun shining brightly upon the sea, still somewhat wave-tossed after the summer storm that had swept over it the
previous day-they came upon a bath-chair drawn aside from the bustle of the sands, in which, sheltered by a jutting rock from the heat of the early noontide, sat an invalid, accompanied by a gentleman friend, and attended by a servant, who, now his assistance could temporarily be dispensed with, stood a little apart.
Miss Banks, looking at the tableau carelessly, suddenly uttered a little exclamation of surprise, and bowed to the stranger leaning against the rock, who raised his hat in acknowledgment of her salutation.
Then the eyes of the gentleman in the bath chair falling on Miss Edwina, he recognised her, and moved as if by an irresistible impulse he smiled, as he also lifted his hat.
Half laughing, while blushing, feeling in a moment shy and abashed, the girl returned a wise little nod, and hurried on after her seniors.
They had not got twenty paces away, however, before the gentleman Miss Banks knew was at their side.
'Forgive me, dear Miss Banks,' he began; 'but I no sooner see you than I come to ask a favour. I had no idea you were in Scarborough.'
I have been here a fortnight, Captain,' she answered, stopping; ' and you?'
'What delightful weather!' remarked Miss Banks.
'What a nice day yesterday was!' he answered.
'I never crossed the threshold of our hotel,' she said.
'Nor I,' he replied. But that brings me back to the question I wanted to ask. Who is that jolly little girl? and he indicated with a look Miss Edwina, who was walking demurely beside her