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'I think I must soon receive a letter requiring my return to town,' decided Miss Banks; and having made up her mind on this point, she redoubled her attentions to Lady Moffat, and rendered herself most amiable and attentive.

One beautiful morning Lady Moffat, Miss Banks, and Captain Battersley all sat talking pleasantly over a late breakfast. It had come to be almost a matter of course that Captain Battersley should join them at that meal, which now was always late.

Lady Moffat could not sleep at night, and was getting into the habit of taking her rest after dawn. By this time she had plenty of acquaintance in Scarborough, and was leading that life of constant gadding about and useless visiting certain to tell upon the health of a woman who had hitherto led the most quiet of existences, and kept the most regular of hours. Her doctor had not the faintest idea as to what was the matter with her, and therefore said she was to pass a considerable time in the open day, and keep herself interested and amused, and free from all anxiety.


Nothing loth to carry out these directions, Lady Moffat, aided and abetted by Miss Banks and the many delightful' people who chanced by the 'greatest good fortune' to be at the same period staying at Scarborough, was ever foremost in projects for pleasure, and in suggesting parties, aquatic and otherwise.

She was not very fond of the water, it is true, but, as she remarked, anything is better than staying indoors.'

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They were a merry party at breakfast on the morning in tion. Lady Moffat often declared quesCaptain Battersley amused her more than any one she ever knew.

speak in their absence about He had never a good word to the chief reason of his agreeman or woman; perhaps this was ability.

ly about a picnic-party Lady MofThey were talking very earnestfat intended to give. Miss Banks those who should be invited, and was pencilling down the names of Captain Battersley was diversifying the monotony of that proceeding by comments upon the different persons mentioned. Young and old, merely rich or merely well-born, good and bad, handsome and ugly, it was all the same to this well-dressed, easymannered cynic.

'You are too hard upon them,' postulation, when, after pulling a said Miss Banks at length, in exwhole family to pieces, he reverted to the shortcomings of a respectsin chanced to be a too small acable old grandfather, whose only quaintance with foreign tongues, and an undue fondness for pronouncing French and German and Italian names in plain English quite good enough for him.' fashion,' which was, he said, "They are very nice homely sort of people, and I do not like to hear them ridiculed.'


hersteadily. He was short-sighted,
Captain Battersley looked at
and the glass he wore almost con-
the sort of scrutiny with which he
stantly fixed in his right eye made
favoured the lady more impres-

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'Good gracious,' he exclaimed, can I believe my ears? Is Saul amongst the prophets?'

I do not think it is a sin for a man who was born about eighty years ago to be a little ignorant of modern languages, if that is what ly. People did not know so you mean,' said Miss Banks stoutmuch, were not in the way of learning so much, then, as they are

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now; besides, when he was young he had not time, I daresay, to study such things.'

'I daresay not; at that remote period I think he told me he was employed as a sweeper-could it be a sweeper? yes, I think so— in a cotton-mill.'

'All the more credit is due to him, then, for having risen to the position he occupies.'

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'I will not endeavour to dispute so obvious a truism,' said Captain Battersley, bowing. There is no knowing where to have our fair friend,' he added, turning to Lady Moffat. She blows so hot and she blows so cold. One day she is enthusiastic concerning the merits of a new acquaintance; the next she discovers he is but mortal, and blames him for failing to reach the stature of a saint. Now it seems to me a middle sort of course is better, for if one sees both the defects and the virtues-'

'Better leave out the last word,' suggested Miss Banks;' you never see a virtue.'

Lady Moffat laughed; she liked to hear the two sparring; it never occurred to her that between them she might get a blow-that either could ever find anything but good to say of a person whose company they appeared so much to enjoy, whose society they so sedulously affected.

'Do you think your friend will be well enough to join us?' she asked.

'Who-Chesunt? O yes, I'll make him come; he is like Miss Banks, he loves "fresh woods and pastures new." The grandpapa's account of his foreign tour will delight him beyond measure. Shall we proceed with the list?'

'I think it is almost long enough,' said Miss Banks, looking pensively at the names she had jotted down. Just attend for a moment, please, whilst I read, and

then if there is any one, any desirable one, that you find I have omitted, please tell me.' 'Sir John Moffat.'

It was not Captain Battersley or Lady Moffat who supplied this omission, but the waiter, who threw open the door of the breakfast-room and announced Sir John Moffat.

If a ghost had appeared suddenly before the trio they could scarcely have been more startled.

Miss Banks dropped her pencil. Captain Battersley surveyed the new arrival in amazement. Lady Moffat half rose from her chair, and then sat down again, murmuring,

Why, how did you come here?'

It was not a cordial welcome, but it served. Sir John shook hands with his wife and Miss Banks, bowed to the unknown gentleman, and said he had come by the train from York.

'Have you breakfasted?' asked her ladyship.

There was plenty of material on the table for any one who liked cold coffee, cold tea, cold toast, cold bacon, cold eggs, fruit and wine.

Sir John had breakfasted.

'Lovely weather for travelling,' said Captain Battersley, plunging into the conversational abyss.

Yes, the weather was beautiful, Sir John admitted.

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You know Scarborough well, I suppose?' suggested the Captain. No, Sir John had never seen Scarborough before.

'Ah, well then, you will see it for the first time at what people think its best. I prefer the place in the winter, I must say, however. I am going out shortly, Lady Moffat; is there any commission I can execute for you?'

Lady Moffat was obliged, but she wanted nothing.

'And you, Miss Banks?' asked

Captain Battersley, turning towards the spinster.

'No; I am going out almost immediately myself, thank you.'

'I hope I shall have the pleasure of seeing you again in the course of the afternoon, Sir John,' said Captain Battersley politely, turning to that gentleman; and without waiting for any reply he left the room, an example followed so speedily by Miss Banks that they encountered each other on the landing.

'Surprised?' asked the other. Well, yes, a little.' 'She looked frightened.' 'But she isn't; it is only a way she has.'

'She acts the part very well if it is not natural.'

Meantime the subject of these remarks sat with the sunshine streaming upon her, perfectly silent. She looked at the wrecks strewing the breakfast-table, the remnants of that pleasant feast, the places where her two guests had sat, and spoke not a word.

Sir John's eyes also roamed over the board, and then turned to the sea dancing and quivering below the windows, before he said slowly,

'Who is that

person, Mira?'

"That person,' she answered, with not a bad imitation of the officer's own manner, 'is Captain Battersley.'

'How did you get to know him? 'Through an accident,' she replied slowly and unwillingly, as though the words were drawn out of her mouth against her inclination. He is here with Lord Chesunt.'

'You see a great deal of him?' 'Yes, we have grown very intiImate with them both.'

'O!' and he drew a long breath, and began studying the pattern of the carpet.

'Have you any other question to

ask' she said, after a moment's pause.

'Yes' there was a latent insolence in her tone, but he took no notice of it. 'We had better have these things removed first, however, so that we may not be interrupted.'

'We can go into the next room,' she said; you need fear no interruption there.'

She led the way, her skirts sweeping the ground, her head upreared in the air in a manner all too familiar. He knew these signs betokened stormy weather; but he had not come down expecting a calm, and he was prepared for any outburst which might ensue.

Will this suit you?' she asked, with a scornful glance around the luxurious appointments.

'Very well,' he said; and drawing up an easy-chair for her, he stationed himself beside the window.

'You want to know what brought me down, I suppose?' he began, speaking quietly and gently as usual.

'Yes; and why you came as you did-without letter, without warning, bursting upon me like a thunderclap, just as if you wanted to spy what I was about.'

He looked at her in calm astonishment.

'No thought was further from my mind, Mira,' he said. 'I am not, I hope, much in the habit of spying and prying.'

'O indeed! yet the moment you come here you begin finding fault with my acquaintances.'

'I have not done so as yet,' he replied. Still, while we are on that subject I may tell you I decidedly object to Captain Battersley and to Lord Chesunt. They are both men of the worst possible character; and if you must make new acquaintances, I should prefer them to be respectable.'

> 'You are a judge of that sort of thing, I suppose?

'Mira,' he said, 'don't let us quarrel; we are not, we never have been, too happy; but surely there is no necessity for us to make ourselves more wretched. I did not come down here to speak about Captain Battersley or Captain anybody. I came merely in answer to your letter asking for more money. Do you know, have you any idea, how much you have spent since you left London?'

'I am not a bookkeeper,' she retorted.

'I ought to have seen you sooner on this subject,' he went on, his voice very kind and low and pained, for he hated having to find fault, and he could not endure talking to her about her sudden extravagance; but as I was willing until lately to give you even more than you asked for, since I considered you were, as wives go in these times, moderate in your expenditure and careful in the household, I thought I would send all you wanted while you were here, and then tell you before another summer came round I could not afford to spare so large an amount.'

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'Well?' she said, as he paused. 'I meant to have come down long ago,' he said, and then I put the evil day off and off. I wrote to you some time since, if you remember, and begged you not to ask me so constantly for remittances. For a little while you refrained from doing so; but of late scarcely a day has passed without a request for money.'

'Because you never sent me enough at once,' she answered.

"Well, altogether you have had enough surely,' he expostulated. 'Just look here, those are the sums I have posted to you; that is the total they come to.'

He held out as he spoke a little


memorandum-book, the first leaves in which were well filled with figures, while the page he kept open showed a formidable amount to have been drawn in so short a time out of the pockets of any man.

She averted her head and began tapping the floor with her foot.


Do look at it, Mira,' he entreated. 'I do not like to seem stingy; but your own sense will tell you, if you cast your eye over those figures, that I could not, in justice to myself and the children, allow such an expenditure to continue."

So suddenly and swiftly she struck the book out of his hand that, as he bent towards her, it smote him in the face and then fell to the floor.

He did not say anything; he lifted it up and put it in his pocket, and then walked twice up and down the room before he could trust himself to speak again. Ah, he could not take his hat now, as he had done in the years gone by. He was bound to her, and he knew it. Through the long, long weary years, by words, tone, manner, she had reminded him too often of his position for there to be much danger of his forgetting it.

Yet there may come a time when even a worm will turn, and that time had arrived for Sir John. As she meant to fight, he would fight. Warfare of any kind was not to his taste; but he felt that if he ever intended to defend his worldly credit, his mercantile honour, the money he had struggled hard to amass, the fortune of his children, the portion he had mentally set aside for Rachel, he must unfurl his standard now. He had arrived meaning peace, and she met him with enmity. He had approached a difficult subject with reluctance, and she treated it and him with


scorn. He had not intended to reproach her for the past, but only to curtail her expenses for the future; and she rejected his first offer of some reasonable capitulation, she received his flag of truce with indignity, and gave him no reason to suppose that any further amicable advances would be treated with greater courtesy.

He stopped at length in the middle of the room and looked at her. She was still gazing out of the window, still ignoring his existence, still, with her face well in profile, keeping her eyes averted from this disturbing pre


Yes, he looked at her; coldly, dispassionately, critically. She was handsomer than she had ever been-as different as can well be imagined from the beautiful creature he first beheld; but in her prime more lovely, more perfect than even when she stood with the glamour of youth and romance and dawn about her, and the thousand nameless attractions imagination weaves round a pretty woman when her story is still unknown, her faults lying in the background far out of sight of the keenest eyes.

He had seen handsome women since he first met her in the dim twilight of early morning, with the scent of roses and lilies filling all the air, but he had never seen one so handsome as his wife. He had roamed through exhibitions, and sauntered through picturegalleries; but not in one did he ever light on a portrait of any lady so divinely fair as she who had brought all the hopes and aspirations of his life to naught.

How long had the passion he once dignified by the name of love been dead, he wondered? He could not think of it now save as a snare and a delusion, an infatu

ation and insanity; but looking at her he marvelled wherein the charm had lain for him, what there was in the song which lured him to destruction.


He could not tell; though she was still a beautiful woman, her face attracted him no more. With the years there had grown a dread of it. Very little further provocation would, he felt, change that dread to hatred. With all his heart and all his soul he had tried to do his duty by and to her. her sake, for that of the husband he had wronged, for conscience' sake, and the truth and the right and the honour, he had been more tender to, more thoughtful for, this wife who had never been thoughtful for him, than husbands usually are to wives they nevertheless hold dear in their innermost hearts, that they love wholly and entirely.

And this was the return he received. Knowing what she knew, remembering things which could not be forgotten, she still let the demon with which she was cursed rend her, and defy him.

She wore a morning dress that was a master triumph of simplicity, fashion, and expense, and he noted how its every line and flow, its delicate colours, its pretty bows and trembling ribbons, set off the fairness of her fair face, the graceful curves of her figure. White and lovely were her hands, shaded by creamylooking ruffles; her hair was thick and luxuriant as of yore; not a wrinkle marked her forehead, not a trace of Time's footprints could be seen upon her face. What was there she had lacked in the past? what was it she desired in the present? Were there not hundreds of women, thousands, millions, who would be thankful for a twentieth part of the money

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