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grown so nice as to weigh words and looks like the high and mighty folk up yonder ? indicating the house with a jerk of his elbow.
He did not wait for an answer. He drew Honor Smith aside, and said something which caused her to stare and redden, though she was not given to blushing. His words were, • I'll be rid of the plaguy lot presently, Honor ; and, remember, I'm coming over to you for comfort. I'm as dead beat as the hardest worker among you—as I ever was in India. Make haste home, or I'll reach Hawley Scrub before you. I've something to say to you and your father that may stop your voyage across the seas.'
Lady Fermor was looking through the trees at the hay-field, at the dispersing hay-makers, arri at a couple standing for a moment apart from the others. Her familiar spirit, Major Pollock, was at her elbow. He looked the incarnation of malice as he showed his teeth in a grinning snarl. Generally his mistress kept him well in hand, but he could not resist so fine a chance of retaliation : Strapping gipsy, in black and red-eh! my lady? Curious how the most refined tastes will wander in by-ways and hanker after forbidden fruit.
But when it is a case of “like draws to like,” I should say the game is up. What will you wager that the future mistress of Whitehills is not standing yonder ? Exceedingly romantic, though low all round. A misfortune for the county—a shocking scandal, but not so very surprising, after all, if you measure the merits and antecedents of the master of the place. Looks like it, from this abominable forsaking of his company, and flaunting the rival attraction in our very faces.
'Pollock, I should never speak to you again,' the enraged old lady turned on him, 'if it were not to show you what a fool you. are, and what an idiotic error your slanderous tongue is leading you into. That girl pulled Sir William Thwaite out of a pond at the risk of her own life. He told me so himself. Man, are you worse than a beast, that you cannot understand common gratitude ?
Common gratitude is sometimes an uncommonly deceitful and dangerous commodity, particularly when it leads a man and woman in different grades of life, nowadays at least, to strike up a friendship. But, of course, I stand corrected before your ladyship's superior information.'
Major Pollock bowed with mockery in his bow, but still with an appearance of submission:
Carriages and horses were being driven and led backwards and forwards along the sweep before Sir William came into the drawing; room again. He made no apology for his protracted absence, but said, in what sounded like a general leave-taking, “Ladies and gentlemen, I hope you have enjoyed yourselves. There was a change in his tone, which a subtle student of human nature might have detected and puzzled over. The earnest desire to play his part well, the anxiety to please in certain quarters, which had weighed upon him, had disappeared. He moved more freely—almost with a defiant swagger, while he spoke rather in grim banter than in cheerful hope.
Thwaite, what have you been making of yourself ? cried Lady Fermor peevishly, as if she had a right to call him to order, and to claim a compensation.
But he did not accord to her the slight atonement he had made to his workingpeople.
'Nothing,' he answered laconically, except . that I found some one to keep me outside.?
He took her down in silence to her carriage and put her in, allowing Ludovic Acton to hand in Iris and Lucy. "Good-bye, Lady Fermor,' said the host, standing orthodoxly enough bareheaded on the doorsteps, but going on to speak with an odd emphasis words which the occasion hardly seemed to require ; 'I am indebted to you for all you have done for me. Good-bye, Miss Compton.' He forgot to speak to Lucy.
“Mercy on us, man! you are not taking farewell of us for ever,' Lady Fermor was moved to ejaculate; "we shall see you tomorrow, if you do not walk over, in the course of the evening, to inquire whether my old bones are no worse of your hay-field and of the late hours last night.' .
• Excuse me, my lady, I am bespoken elsewhere,' he said ; but his words were drowned in the roll of the wheels. Lady Fermor sat on the same side as Iris.
Something is up,' the old woman mumbled in her grand-daughter's ear; 'and I shall hear what you have to say on the subject, Miss Compton, the moment we get home.'
Iris had no other thought than to tell her grandmother what had passed ; severe as the ordeal was, she would go through with it. Indeed, she was not sure that it could be quite so bad as what she had undergone already that day. She had her share of the courage and steadfastness which make martyrs; but she could not speak before Lucy, though she sympathized with all her might in what she guessed of the circumstances. Lucy would even have annihilated herself, or jumped out and walked home under the last hazily hot beams which the sun, low in the sky, sent out over the pastures and ponds of Eastham. .
Iris sat and tried to be brave for what lay. before her, while her mind went back with painful pertinacity, and rehearsed word for word the scene in which she had figured. How unreasonable he had been! How presumptuous ! Yes, she must say it again-how violent! But there was one thing: he had never once mentioned Whitehills as an inducement for her to change her mind. Lady Thwaite had brought his place and position prominently forward, and, no doubt, Lady Fermor would dwell upon them, but he had not done it. He had ranted egotistically about his misplaced passion, but he had not shown a trace of mercenariness ; in this re