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mamma, and shaking out her tresses to the sun and air.
"That "jolly" little girl is the daughter of Sir John Moffat,' explained Miss Banks, in a tone of severe reprehension. By Jove John Moffat?'
and who is Sir
'Really, Captain, I am afraid I cannot add further to your information,'answered Miss Banks stiffly.
'Come, Miss Banks, you must not be cross with me,' said the individual addressed as Captain; and you used always to be so good-natured and forgiving! Are you angry at my calling your young lady a jolly little girl? Fact is, I only adopted the Viscount's phrase. He was so taken with her yesterday; he talked about her at intervals all the evening; and now nothing will serve him but an introduction, if it can be managed. You will humour his whim, won't you? Remember what a wreck he is.'
knew when to talk and when to keep silence.
Now, won't you manage,' entreated the Captain, 'to let him know that child? Upon my soul, Miss Banks,' he went on, waxing desperate, 'I do think she has done him good already. How he did laugh, to be sure, when he was telling me about the three of them scurrying along after his hat! "What a jolly little girl she is!" he said. "What a delightful little woman she will be!"
Miss Banks had thought it all out by this time. She did not like Captain Battersley. There had been between them, in days gone by, certain little passages of arms, in which she always came off worsted. Dangerous as a friend, fatal as a foe, she had for many years tried to keep a wide distance between herself and the gallant officer; but in the present instance she knew it would be of no avail trying to elude his request. By hook or by crook he would compass his design, and it was better to bow to the inevitable and to make a virtue of necessity.
'You had better,' she said, therefore, tell all this to Lady Moffat herself. She is a very amiable person.' Miss Banks made this statement without the suspicion even of a smile. She told untruths as a matter of business, and the humour of some of them never struck her. 'As amiable as her husband is rich. It is extremely likely she will take the child back to speak to his lordship now.'
'A thousand thanks,' cried the Captain. And so,' he went on,
'And where does he live when he is at home?' asked the officer. 'In Palace Gardens,' said Miss Banks.
tional circumstances of the case, I am sure you will forgive me.' Lady Moffat had no objection in the world to knowing Lord
'Where is that?' inquired Cap- Chesunt; quite the contrary. tain Battersley.
'I declare you are too bad!' retorted the lady; and, dexterously shifting the position of her sunshade, she turned her gaze seaward, utterly excluding the offending Captain from her bodily contemplation.
'Why, what now?' he asked. 'What have I said or done amiss? You seem to think I am as well posted up in new baronets and new localities as yourself. I know all the old streets as I know all the old titles, but when you take me beyond my radius, I am lost. Where is, or are, Palace Gardens?'
'You know perfectly well,' she answered irritably.
'I do not know,' he said. 'Anywhere near Palace-yard?'
Miss Banks did not reply. They were now close to Lady Moffat and her daughter, who paused as they drew near.
"May I introduce Captain Battersley to you, Lady Moffat? began Miss Banks. 'He is a friend of the gentleman whose hat Edwina and her brothers rescued yesterday.'
The Captain bowed and told his story-gave a pathetic account of the state of Lord Chesunt's health, and of the boon any distraction from the consideration of his ailments proved to the sick
'Will you allow him to make your acquaintance?' he entreated. He has taken a fancy for knowing Miss Moffat, and he is just like a child-frets if one crosses his whim. I feel that I ought to make a thousand apologies for preferring such a request; but if you take into consideration the excep
Lords had not been plentiful in her world-indeed, she had never spoken to one in all her life-and the opportunity presented seemed far too good to be lost. She wanted to know people of high degree; she was restlessly anxious to increase the number of her desirable acquaintances. The society she once thought very grand and good she now despised. She desired to go on climbing higher and higher, believing that in some yet loftier sphere she would attain that happiness she had never yet compassed, and feeling if there were not security in the society of the upper ten, safety existed nowhere on the face of the earth.
'I shall be very happy to become acquainted with Lord Chesunt,' she said; and though there was no elation in her tone or manner, there was a sparkle in her eye, which the Captain read correctly. We know his cousin, I think;' which was a bold statement, since she had only spoken twice to that gentleman.
Captain Battersley laughed.
'You mean the clergyman, I suppose,' he said. That fact had better, I fancy, be kept discreetly in the background. The mention. of his cousin acts upon my friend like a red rag on a turkey cock.'
'Why?' asked Lady Moffat, with charming directness.
'People don't like their next heirs, as a rule, particularly when they themselves happen to be in bad health,' he answered. 'It is annoying to reflect another fellow will come in for a lot of good things if you die. And though Chesunt won't take care of himself, he can't endure the idea of anybody stepping into his shoes when he has to
leave them off. Therefore, I venture to suggest that, his cousin being an unpleasant subject, the topic should be avoided.'
You hear that, Edwina,' said Miss Banks severely.
'Yes, I hear,' answered the girl; and, looking at her, Captain Battersley knew she meant to introduce Mr. Woodham's name the very first opportunity.
AT THE GRAND HOTEL.
THE acquaintance thus begun was not permitted to languish for want of constant intercourse.
Staying at the same hotel, Viscount Chesunt spent a great portion of his time with his new friends; and when he did not feel inclined for their society-for he had moods of evil temper and seasons of terrible depressionCaptain Battersley kept the ball moving, and made himself, as Lady Moffat said, 'very agreeable indeed.'
That gallant gentleman admired Sir John's wife immensely. A splendid woman!' he declared to Miss Banks, who was not backward in repeating all his compliments to her hostess. Her beauty is imperial,' he said. 'I do not know when I saw any one handsome! Where did the worthy knight pick her up?
Miss Banks did not answer. She knew the covert insolence which underlay these figures of speech, and she had no weapon save silence to keep that insolence from finding open expression.
'I beg your pardon,' he apologised; do you happen to know where Sir John Moffat met with his wife?
'I do not,' answered Miss Banks.
'I don't know.'
This grows interesting,' commented the Captain. Fancy Miss Banks living on terms of intimate friendship with a lady for- How long have you visited with them?'
'Six months, I suppose.'
'And at the end of that time knowing literally nothing of her antecedents. I could not have believed it! Lady Moffat must be cleverer than I thought.'
'She is not at all clever,' said Miss Banks.
'Ah, that's a woman's view of the matter, just as it is a female
delusion that Chesunt can be secured for the little girl. My dear soul, it is of no use trying to play a game of that kind with him. He is not going to marry; and if he were, he would not marry our boyish young friend. You see, she could bring him nothing but money, and he does not want money. She is pretty; but, good gracious, there are hundreds of pretty women in the world, and in his own rank too. You are making quite a mistake. Of course, it is no business of mine, and I only tell you because it always seems to me a pity for persons to waste time. You had much better go in for the cousin. Ah, I see that idea has already occurred to you. Sir John's money-bags could be useful to him, and he has a very good chance of the title, though he may have to wait some time for it.'
'I suspect you do not want Lord Chesunt to marry,' said Miss Banks, who could not resist giving this tit for his tat.
'I You don't suppose, my dear soul, I am going to lead this life of slavery for ever? Thank you. My berth is no sinecure; and what is worse, it is not profitable. The wrong sort of person, my lord, to get much out of. It makes no difference to me whether he marries or stays single; but he won't marry. He never cared for any woman but one; and, unstable in everything else, he remains faithful to that first love who was faithless. Not even to spite his cousin will he take a wife.'
'What a singular idea!'
'Isn't it? He must have been devotedly attached to her. It was a boy-and-girl affair; but you know all about it, of course.'
'No, not all. Of course every one is aware he was disappointed, but I never heard particulars.'
They were neighbours,' explained Captain Battersley, 'I believe. You remember he was poor as a church-mouse, and had not, in his younger days, the slightest hope of ever succeeding to the title or the property-a very ineligible fellow indeed. He had known her from a child-they had grown up together; she was the only person, he says, who ever understood him, and they were undoubtedly very fond of each other. Her parents would not hear of the match; nevertheless, the young folks vowed to be constant, and he went abroad with his regiment and she stayed at home. The first news which greeted his return was that she had married, and the next that he was Viscount Chesunt.'
'Where is she now?'
'In India. Her husband is an enormously rich fellow. He was ordered to England for his health: saw her, proposed, was accepted. So much for constancy.'
'And what is really the matter with him?'
'A very prosaic disease - he drinks too much. The doctors say he can't last if he goes on as he has been doing, and I am striving to keep him straight, but it's not an easy task. Now you have a map of the country, my dear Miss Banks.'
'I thought there was something of the sort,' she said meditatively.
If you lived with him you might be sure,' answered Captain Battersley. It is a perfect madness. while it lasts-a wild insanity. He is better, though-he is certainly better; and I am in hopes living abroad may do wonders for him.'
He is going abroad, then, certainly?'
'Yes, in a few weeks' time. So, you see, there is not much chance
of catching him for that audacious little romp.'
Miss Banks did not feel satisfied on this point, but she held her peace.
The days went by, and Captain Battersley grew quite intimate with the Moffat family. The Viscount had one very bad attack, and while he was confined to his own apartments his friend came and went to the rooms occupied by Lady Moffat and Miss Banks as though he were one of that party.
'Don't she and her husband agree? asked the Captain, who really admired Lady Moffat immensely, and felt most curious about her.
'He seems to let her have her own way in everything,' said Miss Banks.
'Why doesn't he come to Scarborough, then?
'I fancy he has enough of her at home.'
'Then they do quarrel? I felt sure of it.'
'No, they do not quarrel; but she is a restless woman-I daresay you have noticed that; and he is so quiet, I think it must wear him a little.'
'What is he like-mentally and physically, I mean?'
'He is many years older than she, and looks his age. He is grave, reserved, gentleman-like; says as little as he can avoid; does not care for display or society or amusement. He is not ambitious. It is much easier to say what he is not, than what he is : a good sort of person, I think, but not easy to get intimate with.' 'Rich, you say? 'Enormously, like all City
The Captain laughed. 'I know some fellows in the City who would be only too glad to find themselves even a little rich; but let that pass. Now what do you
suppose this good Sir John will give his daughter? A hundred thousand?'
'I can't tell; that is a great deal of money. Say half.'
'Well, we will say half. I might do worse myself;' and the speaker looked straight in Miss Banks' face. 'What do you think?' he added, finding she made no reply.
That she might do a great deal better,' answered the lady boldly.
"True, I don't dispute the correctness of that statement; but still, think the matter over; give the subject your best consideration.'
Miss Banks gave the subject her best consideration as she walked homeward, and decided it would not do; indeed, she had her misgivings that the Scarborough business, so far as shewas concerned, must be regarded as a complete mistake.
Save change of air and free board and lodging, she gained nothing by her expedition-a few useless presents, a few revived acquaintanceships. What were
these to set against the fact that she was getting dreadfully tired of Lady Moffat; that she felt she was a woman of whom little could be made directly-who has 'no gratitude and no sense,' thought Miss Banks; 'who is as secret as the grave, and as mean at heart as a miser'?
Lady Moffat was not the person to give her purse into the hands of any one and say 'Pay.' She liked power; she loved personally to feel what money could do for her. Miss Banks could lead her into extravagance, but she never got a chance of levying blackmail ere the gold, which was poured out like water, reached tradesmen, who were as greedy and hungry as herself.