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He disappeared through one of the doors, and there was time

to look round. Suddenly a door behind the magistrate's place was - 2 opened. 'Silence in court !' said a majestic voice. Everybody 1:31! rose, and the magistrate, an elderly gentleman with a shrewd,

kindly face, stepped in, bowed, and took his seat.

A little time was spent in his giving advice to a number of women who came one by one to the front with whispered tales of trouble, and then began a long procession of prisoners, each bearing a strong resemblance to the rest. 'Drunk and disorderly' was the charge in nearly every case. Some were men, some were women, some looked sullen, some looked bored, some argued a little, most pleaded guilty, some had many convictions against them, some only a few, some consequently got heavier sentences than others. It was all sordid and vicious, the only rays of humour coming from a witty cab-driver, who was in trouble for leaving his horse and cab unattended. At last Albert was ushered in, and took his place in the dock, looking wonderfully young and innocent after the long series of brutalised faces. His mother had evidently tidied him up, and he was wearing a decent collar and tie for the first time for years.

A policeman stepped into the box, kissed the Book with a smack, gave his name and number to the clerk, and proceeded with his evidence in a monotonous sing-song voice which betrayed an indifference oddly out of keeping with the prisoner's miserable excitement.

'Have you any questions to ask the constable ?' said the magistrate to Albert, when the evidence was closed; but the boy did not seem to hear. 'Have you any questions to ask the constable ?' echoed the burly warder standing at the end of the dock. 'Guilty, please my lord, sir,' said Albert, with a break in his voice.

The magistrate looked round the court with a slightly perplexed air, and the curate perceived that the moment for his intervention had come. He stepped forward with an effort, said, 'I should like to speak on the prisoner's behalf if I may,' and found himself in the witness-box without quite knowing how he got there. The magistrate's glance gave him courage, however, and he managed to put in a plea for leniency, promising that he would do his utmost to keep Albert out of mischief for the future. The magistrate leaned forward and gave the boy some good advice, blended with sharp reproof; but it was evident that he was glad of an excuse for

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not convicting, and a few minutes later Albert and the curate were in the street together.

'You have been a young fool, Albert, and you have had a lesson. Take my advice, and drop gambling.' But it was very hard to screw up a sermon to the still trembling lad; and they parted with mutual expressions of goodwill.

It was on Sunday evening a few weeks later that the curate was walking wearily home after the end of the last service, when, as he made his way through the crowd in the great thoroughfare, he met Albert, whose arm was linked in the arm of a pleasantfaced girl. “Hullo !' said the curate to himself. ‘Albert walking out with Jessie? Well, she'll keep him straight if anybody can.'

The curate had by this time experience enough to know that an influence had come into Albert's life, the ultimate issues of which no man could foresee,






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CHAPTER V. Will you answer this for me, Baby ?–Tell Major Bethune that we É shall be glad to see him here this week, and for as long as he cares to stay

Aspasia took the letter between disdainful finger and thumb, and turned it over to peruse. Rosamond, leaning her chin on her hand, looked away from the breakfast-table through the small-paned windows into the wintry garden, and was lost in some dream again.

Miss Cuningham’s nostrils dilated with indignation as she read the brief dry lines in which Major Bethune informed Lady Gerardine that he would be glad if she could now furnish him with some of the promised material for his work, as he was at a standstill. He could run down for the day, if it suited, and with kind regards to her niece-begged to remain, and so forth.

Kind regards to her niece,' repeated that young lady to herself with an ominous tightness of expression. “Yes, Aunt,' she said aloud, with some alacrity. 'Leave it to me; Ishall write to Major Bethune.'

She finished her tea with a gulp and hurried to the corner of the drawing-room, where she had established her Lares and Penates, to undertake the congenial task.

Her dimples pointed deep satisfaction as she wrote. 'Kind regards, indeed! This Major of Guides should be taught his proper place in the estimation of Miss Aspasia Cuningham.

Dear Major Bethune (she wrote), my aunt bids me to say that she will be charmed if you can arrange your promised visit for next week. You did promise to come here, did not you ? I positively forget. It seems such ages since that dreadful, dreary sea journey, that it was quite a surprise to hear from you this morning. We are having such a happy time here that India and all the rest of it seem never to have existed. We do enjoy being by ourselves.

Kind regards from my Aunt,

Yours very truly, concluded Miss Aspasia with a vindictive flourish.

! Copyright, 1904, by Egerton Castle, in the United States of America,

Having despatched this epistle in triumph, it was astonishing how much brighter became Miss Cuningham's outlook upon the world at large and the manor house n particular. She developed a renewed interest in housekeeping details ; not, as she was careful to explain, that it mattered really what they gave this gentleman to eat or to drink, only Aunt Rosamond was so fastidious.

She discovered that it was absolutely necessary for the enter. tainment of any visitor that a pony and cart should immediately be added to the establishment, and spent an exciting afternoon in scouring the countryside for the same.

It was, of course, the sense of duty well accomplished that gave such a sparkle to her eye and such an irrepressible tilt to the corners of her lips, as she sat waiting for the return of the abovementioned vehicle from the station the day of Major Bethune's arrival. It had not been her intention to gratify him with a sight of her countenance so soon; but Lady Gerardine, after faithfully promising to be in attendance at the appointed time, had wandered off, in the vague way of which Aspasia was becoming resignedly tolerant, for one of her long solitary rambles ; and the girl could not, for the credit of the house, but take on herself the neglected hospitable duty.

Alas for all the resolves of a noble pride ! She had hardly been ten minutes in the company of the newly arrived guest before she had fallen into the old terms of confidential intimacy.

Afterwards she could not quite tell herself how it had happened ; whether because of the good softening of his harsh face as he looked down at her, or of the warm close grasp of his hand which drove away at once the forlorn feeling which had possessed her poor little gregarious soul all these days; or whether it were the mollifying influence of old Mary's scones, the cosiness of the fragrant tea and the leaping fire in contrast to the dreary dusk gathering outside. Perhaps it was merely that her healthy nature could harbour no resentment, albeit the most justifiable. However it may have been, Major Bethune found his welcome at the manor house sweet. Even the maidenly coldness of her first greeting pleased his fastidious old-fashioned notions; and the subsequent thawing of this delicate rime came upon him with something of the balm of sunshine on a frosty morning.

His face stiffened, however, at Aspasia's first confidence about her aunt, into which she plunged, after her usual manner, without the slightest preamble.

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'She's awfully good to me, always; sweeter to me than ever, these last few days—when we meet! But I scarcely see her, except at meals. And then we don't seem to be living in the same world. It's like talking through the telephone,' cried the girl. “Of course, I am quite aware,' she went on, that the poor darling is suffering from neu-neurasth-well, whatever they call it; that her nerves are all wrong. 'Tisn't anything so very new either,' she giggled, 'tis just too much Runkle-Runkleitis. ... I know myself, even I, at times, have felt as if I could scream and tear out his hair by the roots. What must it have been for her! She kept up, you see; that's her way. And now that she's free of him for a bit, it's the reaction, I suppose.'

He drank his tea in sips, listening to her, his head bent. The firelight leaped and cast changing lights upon his countenance. Baby thought he looked thinner, older, sterner ; yet she could never be afraid of him. There was something extraordinarily pleasant in having him there. The very loneliness of the Old Ancient House added a zest. The unsubstantial image of Harry English faded like a ghost before the dawn in the strong man's presence. She edged her chair an inch closer.

'I am sorry Lady Gerardine is no better,' said he, formally, into the little silence.

Oh, better!' answered Aspasia. Will you have another cup ?' ('That makes the third.' She was pleased ; here was a tribute to her capacity.) 'Better ?—that's what is so funny, she's as well as possible. She looks young, young, with a bloom on her cheeks, and sometimes she walks about smiling to herself. It makes me creep. I can't think what she's smiling at. She comes down, singing softly to herself. Why, there are times when she looks just like a girl. No one could ever believe she's had two husbands,' cried terrible Baby.

Major Bethune put down his cup, untouched. ('He didn't want it after all,' commented she.) “It is rather strange,' she went on aloud ; ‘she's simply bloomed since she came here, and the whole house is full of Harry English. And she's shut up half the time, in his old rooms under the roof, routing among those old letters, you know—those letters there was all the fuss about. I thought we'd killed her over them between us,' said Baby, with her little nervous laugh. “And now, I don't know, but I almost think I would rather see her cry and look pale as before. It would seem more natural. Really, I'm frightened sometimes.' VOL. XVII.--NO, 101, N.S.


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