Chapter 64034714

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Chapter NumberIX
Chapter Title"Since Painted or Not Painted, All Shall Fade"
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64034714
Full Date1883-07-07
Page Number0
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Word Count5629
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Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleIllustrated Sydney News (NSW : 1853 - 1872)
Trove TitlePhantom Fortune
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CHAPTER IX.

"SINGE PAINTED OB NOT PAINTED, ALL SHALL FADE."

FRAULEIN KIRSCH and her charge returned from St. Bees after a sojourn of about three weeks upon that quiet shore, but Lady Lesbia did not appear to be improved in health or spirits by the revivifying breezes of the ocean.

" It is a dull, horrid place, and I was bored to death there !" she said, when Mary asked her how she had en- joyed herself. "There was no question of enjoyment. Grandmamma took it into her head that I was looking ill, and sent me to the sea, but I should have been just as well

at Fellside."

This meant that between Lesbia and that distinctly inferior being, her younger sister, there was to be no con- fidence. Mary had watched the life-drama acted under her eyes too closely not to know all about it, and was not in- clined to be put BO off.

That pale perturbed countenance of John Hammond's, thos e eager enquiring eyes, looking to the door which opened not, had haunted Mary's waking thoughts, had even mingled with the tangled web of her dreams. Oh ! how could any woman scorn such love ! To be so loved, and by such a man, seemed to Mary the perfection of earthly bliss. She had never been educated up to those wider and loftier views of life which teach a woman that houses and land, place and power, are the supreme good.

"I can't understand bow you could treat that good, noble-minded man so badly," she exclaimed one day, when she and Lesbia were alone in the library, and after she had sat for ever so long, staring out of the window, medi- tating upon her sister's cruelty,

j "Of whom are you speaking, pray V

" As if you didn't know ! Of Mr. Hammond,'^

I "And pray, how do you know he is noble-minded, or .

that 1 treated him badly ?"

I " Well, as to his being noble-minded, that jumps to the I eyes, as French books say. As for your treatment of him, I I was looking on all the time, and I know how unkind you I were, and I heard him talking to you in the fir copse that

day."

i " You were listening," cried Lesbia, indignantly.

" I was not listening ! I was passing by. And if people choose to carry on their love affairs out of doors they must expect to be overheard. I heard him pleading to you, telling you how he would work for you, fight the battle of life for you, asking you to be trustful and brave for his sake. But you have a heart of stone. You and'"grandmamma

both have hearts of stone. I think she must have taken out your heart when you were little, and put a stone in its

place."

. "Really," said Lesbia, trying to carry things with a high hand, albeit her very human heart was beating passionately all the time, " I think you ought to, be very grateful to me -and grandmamma-for refusing Mr. Hammond."

" Why grateful ?"

" Because it leaves you a chance of getting him for your- self ; and everybody can see that you are desperately in love with him. That jumps to the eyes, as you say."

! Mary turned crimson, trembled with rage, looked at her I sister as if she would kill her, for a moment or so, then

finally burst into tears.

" That is not true, and it is shameful for you to say such a thing," she cried.

"Why, what a virago you are, Mary. Well, I'm very glad it is not true. Mr. Hammond is-yes, I will be quite candid with you-he is the only mani am ever likely to admire for his own sake ; he is good, braye, clever, all that you think him. But you and I do not live in a world in which girls are free to follow their own inclinations. I should break Lady Maulevrier's heart if I were to make a foolish marriage, and I owe her too much to set her wishes at naught, or to make her declining years unhappy. 1 must obey her at any. cost to my own feelings. Please never mention Mr. Hammond's name. I'm sure I have had quite enough unhappiness about him. "

" I see," said Mary, bitterly. 1 " It is your own pain you think of,' not his. He may suffer, so long as you are not

worried."

"You are an impertinent chit," retorted Lesbia, "and you know nothing about it."

After this there was no more said about Mr. Hammond, but Mary did not forget him. She wrote long letters to her brother, who was still in Scotland, shooting, deer-stalking, fishing, killing something or other daily, in the most approved fashion of an Englishman taking his pleasure. Maulevrier occasionally.repaid her with a telegram ; but he was not a good correspondent. He declared that life was i too short for letter Writing. Summer was gone ; the lake

was no longer a shining emerald floor, dotted with the j reflection of the flock upon the verdant slopes above it, but j dull and gray of hue, and broker^ by white-edged wavelets.

Patches of snow gleamed on the misty heights of Helvellyn, I and the autumn winds howled and shrieked around Fellside

in the evenings when all the shutters were shut, and the

I outside world seemed little more than an idea.

Those October evenings were very long and weary for Lesbia and her sister. Lady Maulevrier read and mused in her low chair beside the fire, with her books piled upon her own particular table, and lighted by her own particular lamp. She talked very little, but she was always gracious to her grand-daughters and their governess, and she liked them to be with her in the evening. Lesbia played or sang, or sat at work at her basket table, which occupied the other side of the fire-place, and Fiäulein and Mary had the rest of the roo in to themselves, as it were, those two places by the hearth being sacred, as if dedicated to household gods. Mary read immensely in those long evenings, devour- ing volume after volume, feeding her imagination with every kind of nutriment, good, bad, and indifferent. Fräu- lein Kirsch knitted a woollen shawl, which seemed to have neither beginniug, middle, nor end, and was always ready for conversation ; but there were times when silence brooded over the scene for long intervals, and when every sound ol the light wood ashes dropping on the tiled hearth was dis- tinctly audible.

This state of things went on for about three weeks aftei Leshia's return from St. Bees, Lady Maulevrier watchful oj her all the time, though saying nothing. She saw that Lesbis was not happy, not as she had been in the time before thc coming of John Hammond. She had never been particularly gay or light-hearted, never gifted with the wild spirits anc buoyancy which makes girlhood so lovely a season to some natures, a time of dance and song and joyousness, a morning of life steeped in the beauty and gladness of the universe, She had never been gay as young lambs and foals and fawnf and kittens an I puppy dogs are gay, by reason of the well- spring of delight within them, needing no stimulus from th« outside world. She had been just a little inclined to murmui at the dulness of her life at Fellside, yet she had borne her self with a placid sweetness which had been Lady Maulev rier's delight. But now there was a marked change in hei manner. She was not the less submissive and dutiful in hei bearing to her grandmother, whom she both loved anc feared; but there were moments of fretfulness and impa tience which she could not conceal. She was captious anc sullen in her manner to Mary and the Fräulein. She woulc not walk or drive with them, or share in any of their amuse men ts. Sometimes of an evening that studious silence o the drawing-room was suddenly broken by Leshia's wean sigh, an unconscious sigh, which she breathed unawares ai

she bent over her work.

Lady Maulevrier saw, too, that her cheek was paler thai of old, her eyes less bright. There was a heavy look tba told of broken slumbers, there was a pinched look even ii that oval cheek. Good heavens ! if her beauty were to pal and wane before society had bowed down and worshippe< it, if this fair flower were to fade untimely, if this priz rose in the garden of beauty were to wither and decay befor it won the prize.

Her ladyship was a woman of action, and no sooner di< this fear shape itself in her mind than she took steps t prevent the evil her thoughts foreshadowed.

Among those friends of ber youth and allies of her hous with whom she had always maintained an affectionate cor respondence was Lady Kirkbank, the fashionable wife of

sporting baronet, owner of three country seats and a fin

house in Arlington Street, with an income large enough for their thorough enjoyment. When Lady Diana Angèrsthorpe shone forth in the West End world as the acknowledged belle of the season, the star of Georgina Lorimer was begin- ning to wane. She was the eldest daughter of Colonel Lorimer, a man of a good old family, and a fine soldier, who had fought shoulder to shoulder with Gough and Lawrence, and who had contrived to make a figure in society with very small means. Georgina's sisters had all married well. It was a case of necessity, the Colonel told them ; they must either marry or gravitate ultimately to the workhouse. So the Misses Lorimer made the best of their youth and fresh- ness, and " no good offer refused" was the guiding rule of their young lives. Lucy married an East India merchant, and set up a fine house in Porchester Terrace. Maud married wealth personified in the person of a leading member of the Tallow Chandlers' Company, and had her town house and country house, and as fine a set of diamonds as a duchess.

But Georgina, the eldest, trifled with her chances, and her twenty-seventh birthday beheld her pouring out hèr father's tea in a small furnished house in à street off Portland Place, which the Colonel had hired on his return from India, and which he declared himself unable to maintain another year.

" Directly the season is over I shall give up housekeeping, and take a lodging at Bath," said Colonel Lorimer. "If you don't like Bath all the year round you can stay with your sisters."

" That is the last thing 1 am likely to do," answered Georgina ; " my sisters were barely endurable when they were single and poor. They are quite intolerable now they are married and rich. I would sooner, live in the monkey house at the Zoological than stay with either Lucy or Maud."

"That's rank envy," retorted her father. "You can't forgive them for having done so much better than you."

. "I can't forgive them for having married snobs. When I marry I shall marry a gentleman."

"When!" echoed the parent, with a sneering laugh. 't Hadn't you better Bay « if ?' "

At this period, when Georgina's waning good looks were in some measure counterbalanced by the cumulative effects of half-a-dozen seasons in good society, which had given style to her person, ease to her manners, and sharpness to her tongue, nobody in society said sharper or more unplea- sant things than Miss Lorimer, and by virtue of this gift she got invited about a great deal more than she might have done had she been renowned for sweetness of speech and ! manner. Georgie LQr.imer's presence at a dinner table gave

just that pungent flavour which is like the faint suspicion of garlic in a fricassee or of ah alo t in a salad.

Now in this very season, when Colonel Lorimer was inclined to speak of his daughter as Sainte Beuve wrote of Musset, as a young woman with a very brilliant past, a lucky turn of events gave Georgina a fresh start in life, which may be called a new departure. Lady Diana Angers- thorpe, the belle of the season, took a fancy to her-was charmed with her sharp tongue and acute sense of the ridi- culous. The two became fast friends, and were seen every- where together. The best men all flocked round the beauty, and all talked to the beauty's companion ; and before the season was over, Sir George Kirkbank, who had half made up his mind to propose to Lady Diana, found himself en- gaged to that uncommonly jolly "girl, Lady Diana's friend. Georgina spent August and September with her friend, at the Marchioness of Carrisbroke's delightful villa in the Isle of Wight, and Sir George kept his yacht at Cowes all the time, and was in constant attendance upon his fiancée. It was George and Georgie everywhere. In October Colonel Lorimer had the profound pleasure of giving away his daughter, before the altar, in St. George's, Hanover Square, and it may be said of him that nothing in his relations with that young lady became him better than his manner of parting with her.

So the needy Colonel's daughter became Lady Kirkbank, and in the following spring Diana Angersthorpe was married at the same St. George's to the Earl of Maulevrier. The friends were divided by distance and by circumstance as the years rolled on, but friendship was steadily maintained, and a regular correspondence with Lady Kirkbank, whose pen Was as sharp as her tongue, was one of the means by which Lady Maulevrier had kept herself thoroughly posted in all those small events, unrecorded by newspapers, which make up the secret history of society.

It was of her old friend Georgie that her ladyship thought in her present anxiety. Lady Kirkbank had more than once suggested that Lady Maulevrier's grand-daughters should vary the monotony of Fellside by a visit to her place near Doncaster, or her castle north of Aberdeen ; but her ladyship had evaded these friendly suggestions, being very jealous of any strange influence upon Leshia's life. Now, however, there had come a time when Lesbia must have a complete change of scenery and surroundings, lest she should pine and dwindle in sullen submission to fate, or else defy the world and elope with Mr. Hammond.

Now, therefore, Lady Maulevrier, decided to accept Lady Kirkbank's hospitality. She told her friend the whole story with perfect frankness, and her letter was immediately answered by telegram.

" I start for Scotland to-morrow, will break my journey by staying a night at Fellside, and will take Lady Lesbia on to Kirkbank with me next day, if she can be ready to go !"

" She shall be ready," said Lady Maulevrier.

She told Lesbia that she had accepted an invitation for her, and that she was to go to Kirkbank the day after to- morrow. She was prepared for unwillingness, resistance even ; but Lesbia received the news with evident pleasure.

" I shall be very glad to go," she said, "this place is so dull. Of course I shall be sorry to leave you, grandmamma, and I wish you would go with me, but any change "will be a relief. I think if I had to stay here all the winter, counting the days and the hours, I should go out of my

mind."

The tears came into her eyes, but she wiped them away hurriedly, ashamed of her emotion.

"My dearest child, I am sd sorry for you," murmured Lady Maulevrier, " but believe me the day will come when you will be very glad that you conquered the first foolish inclination of your girlish heart."

"Yes, I daresay, when I am eighty," Lesbia answered impatiently.

She had made up her mind to submit to the inevitable. She had loved John Hammond-had been as near breaking her heart for him as it was in her nature to break her heart for anybody ; but she wanted to make a great marriage, to be renowned and admired. She had been reared and trained for that ; and she was not going to belie her training.

A visitor from the great London world was so rare an event that there was naturally a little excitement in the idea of Lady Kirkbank's arrival. The handsomest and most spacious of the spare bedrooms had been prepared for the

occasion. The housekeeper had been told that the dinner . - must be perfect. There must be nothing old-fashioned or

ponderous ; there must be mind as wellas matter in every- thing. Barely did Lady Maulevrier look at a bill of fare, but on this particular morning she went carefully through the menu, and corrected it with her own hand.

. A pair of post-horses brought Lady Kirkbank and her maid from Windermere station in time for afternoon tea, and the friends, who had only met twice within the last forty years, embraced each other on the threshold of Lady Maulevrier's morning-room.

" My dearest Di," cried Lady Kirkbank, " what a delight to see you again after Buch ages ; and what a top lovely spot you haVe chosen for your retreat from the world, the flesh,

.and the devil. If I could be a recluse anywhere it would' be amongst such delicious surroundings."

Without, twilight shades were gathering ; within, there . was only the light of a fire and a shaded lamp upon the tea

table ; there was just light enough for the two women to see each other's faces, and the change which time had wrought there.

Never did womanhood in advanced years offer a more striking contrast than that presented by the woman of fashion and the recluse. Lady Maulevrier was almost as handsome in the winter of her days as she had been when life was in its spring. The tall, slim figure, erect as a dart, the delicately chiselled features and alabaster complexion, the soft silvery hair, the perfect hand, whiter and more transparent than the hand of girlhood, the stately move- ments and bearing, all combined to make Lady Maulevrier a queen among women. Her brocade gown of a deep shade of red, with a border of dark sable on cuffs and collar, sug- gested a portrait by Velasquez. She wore no ornament ex- cept the fine old Brazilian diamonds which flashed and sparkled upon her slender fingers.

If Lady Maulevrier looked like a picture in the Escurial, Lady Kirkbank resembled a caricature in the Vie Parisi- enne. Everything she wore was in the" very latest fashion of the Parisian demi-monde, that exaggerated elegance of a fashion plate which only the most exquisite of women could redeem from vulgarity. Plush, brocade, peacocks' feathers, golden bangles, mousquetair gloves, a bonnet of purple plumage set off by ornaments of filigree gold, an infantine little muff of lace and wild flowers, buttercups and daisies, and hair, eyebrows, and complexion as artificial as the

flowers on the muff.

All that art could do to obliterate the traces of age had been done for Georgina Kirkbank. But seventy years are not to be obliterated easily, and the crow's feet showed through the bloom de Ninon, and the eyes Under the painted arches were glassy and haggard, the carnation lips had a withered look. Age was made all the more palpable by the artifice which should have disguised it.

Lady Maulevrier suffered an absolute shock at beholding the friend of her youth. She had not accustomed herself to the idea that women in society could raddle their cheeks, stain their lips, and play tricks before high heaven with their eyebrows andeyelashes. In her own youth painted faces had been the ghastly privilege of a class of womanhood of which the women of society were supposed to know nothing. Persons who showed their ankles and rouged their cheeke were to be seen of an afternoon in Bond-street ; but Lady Diana Angersthorpe had been taught to pass them by as ii she saw them not, to behold without seeing these creatures outside the pale. And now she saw her own dearest friend, a person distinctly within the pale, plastered with bismuth and stained with carmine, and wearing hair of a colour sc obviously false and inharmonious, that child-like faith could hardly accept it as reality. Porty years ago Lady Kirkbank'i long ringlets had been darkest glossiest brown, to-day sh( wore a tousled fringe of bright yellow, piquantly contrasting with burnt sienna eyebrows.

It took Lady Maulevrier some moments to get over th( shock. She drew a chair to the fire and established hei friend in it, and then with a little gasp she said :

"I am charmed to see you again, Georgie !"

" You darling, I was sure you would be glad. ' But yoi must find me awfully changed-awfully."

For worlds Lady Maulevrier could not have denied thii truth. Happily Lady Kirkbank did not wait for an answer

"Society is so wearing, and George and I never seem t< get an interval of quiet. Kirkbank is to be full of mei next week. Your grand-daughter will have a good time. "

" There will be a few women, of course ?"

"Oh, yes, there's no avoiding that; only one doesn' reckon them. Sir George only counts his guns. We expec a splendid season. I shall send you some birds of my owi shooting."

" You shoot !" exclaimed Lady Maulevrier, amazed.

"Shoot, I should think I do. What else is there t amuse one in Scotland, after the salmon fishing is over ?

have never missed a season for the last thirty years, unies

we have been abroad."

" Please don't innoculate Lesbia with your love of sport. " What ! you wouldn't like her to shoot? Well, perhap you are right. Its hardly the thing for a pretty girl wit her fortune to make. It spoils the delicacy of the skir TJut I'm afraid she'll And Kirkbank dull, if she doesn't g out with the guns. She can meet us with the rest of th women at luncheon. We have some capital pic-nic lund eons on the moor, I can assure you."

" I know she will enjoy herself with you. She has bee accustomed to a very quiet life here."

" Its a lovely spot, but I own I cannot understand ho1 you can have lived here exclusively during all these yean you who used to be all life and fire, loving change, actioi political and diplomatic society, to dance upon the crest ( the wave, as it were. Your whole nature must hav suffered some curious change."

Their close intimacy of the past warranted some freedoi of speech in the present.

"My nature did undergo a change, and a severe one, answered Lady Maulevrier, gloomily.

"It was that horrid-and I daresay unfounded-scandi about his lordship ; and then the sad shock of his death, murmured Lady Kirkbank, sympathetically. "Most w< men, with your youth and beauty, would have forgotten tl scandal and the husband in a twelvemonth, and would ha^ made a second marriage more brilliant than the first. Bi no Indian widow who ever performed suttee was moi worthy of praise than you, or even that person of Ephesu; whose story I have read somewhere. Indeed, I ha\ always spoken of your life as a long suttee. But you mea to re-appear in society next season, I hope, when you pr sent your grand-daughter. "

"I Bhall certainly go up to London to present her, an possibly I may spend the season in town, but I shall fe. like Rip Van Winkle."

" No, no, you won't, my dear Di. You have kept your- self au courant, I know. Even my silly gossiping letters may have been of some use."

"They have been most valuable. Let me give you another cup of tea," said Lady Maulevrier, who had been officiating at her own exquisite tea table, an arrangement of inlaid woods, and antique silver, and modern china, which her friend pronounced a perfect poem.

Indeed the whole room was poetic, Lady Kirkbank declared, and there are many highly-praised scenes which less deserve the epithet. The dark red walls and cedar dado, the stamped velvet curtains, of an indescribable shade between silver grey and olive, the Sheraton furniture, the parqueterie floor, and Persian prayer-rugs, the deep yet brilliant hues of crackle porcelain and Chinese cloisonné enamel, the artistic fireplace, with dogstove, low brass fender and andirons and ingle nook restling under the high mantelpiece, all combined to form a luxurious and har-

monious whole.

Lady Kirkbank admired the tout ensemble in the fitful light of the fire, the dim gray of deepening twilight.

" There never was a more delicious cell," she exclaimed, " but still I should feel it a prison if I had to spend six weeks in the year in it. I never stay more than six weeks anywhere out of London ; and I always find six weeks more than enough. The first fortnight is rapture, the third and fourth weeks are calm content, the fifth is weariness, the sixth a fever to be gone. I once tried a seventh week at Pontresina, and I hated the place so intensely that I dared not go back there for the next three years. But now tell me, Diana, have you really performed suttee, have you buried yourself alive in this sweet spot deliberately, or has the love of retirement grown upon you, and have you be-

come a kind of lotus eater ?"

"I believe I have become a kind of lotus eater. My retirement here has been no sentimental sacrifice to Lord Maulevrier's memory."

"I am glad to hear that, for really I think the worst possible use a woman can make of her life is in wasting it on lamentations for a dead and gone husband. Life is odiously short at the best, and it is mere imbecility to fritter away any of our scanty portion upon the dead, who can never be any the better for our tears."

"My motive in living at Fellside was not reverence for the dead. And now let us talk of the gay world, of which you know all the secrets. Have you heard anything more

about Lord Hartfield ?"

" Ah, there is a subject in which you have reason to be interested. I have not forgotten" the romance of you: youth -that first season in which Ronald Hollister used to haunt every place at which yon appeared. Do you remember that wet afternoon at the Chiswick flower show when you and he and I took shelter in the orange house, and you two made love to each other most audaciously in an atmosphere of orange blossoms that almost stifled me? Yes," those were glorious days." -

"A short summer of gladness, a brief dream." sighed Lady Maulevrier. " Is young Lord Hartfield like his

father?"

' " No, he takes after the Ilmingtons ; but still there is a

look of your old sweetheart-yes, I think there is an expres- sion. I have not seen him for nearly a year. He is still abroad, roaming somewhere after adventure. These young men who belong to the Geographical and the Alpine Club are hardly ever at home."

" But though they may be sometimes lost to society, they are all the more worthy of society's esteem when they do appear," said Lady Maulevrier. " 1 think there must be an ennobling and purifying influence in Alpine travel, or in the vast solitudes of the dark continent. A man finds him- self face to face with unsophisticated nature, and with th« grandest forces of the universe. Professor Tyndall writes delightfully of bis Alpine experiences ; his noble mind seems to have ripened in the solitude and untainted air of the Alps And I believe Lord Hartfield is a young man of very higl character and of considerable cultivation, is he not ?"

"He is a splendid young fellow. I never heard a word to his disparagement, even from those people who pretend to know something bad about everybody. What a husband he would make for one of your girls."

" Admirable, but those perfect arrangements, which seen predestined by heaven itself, are so rarely realised on earth,' answered, the Dowager, lightly.

She was not going to show her cards, even to an ole

friend.

'< Well, it would be very sweet if they were to meet nexl season and fall in love with each other," said Lady Kirk bank. "He is enormously rich, and I daresay your girls will not be portionless."

"Leshia may take a lowly place among heiresses," an swered Lady Maulevrier. " I have lived so quietly during the last forty years that 1 could hardly help saving money-'

"How nice," sighed Georgie. "I never saved sixpenc* in my life, and am always in debt."

"The little fortune I have saved is much too small foi division. Lesbia will therefore have all I can leave her Mary has the usual provision as a daughter of the Maulev

rier house."

" And I suppose Lesbia has that provision also ?"

"Of course."

" Lucky Lesbia. I only wish Hartfield were coming ti us for the shooting. I would engage he should fall in lovi with her. Kirkbank is a splendid place for match-making And now, my dear Diana, tell me more about yourself au( your own life in this delicious place. "

" There is so little to tell. The books I have read, th< theories of literature and art and science which I hav adopted and dismissed, learnt and forgotten-those are th history of my life. The ideas of the outside world reach ni here only in books ; but you who have been living in thi world must have so much to say. Let me be the listener/

" Lady Kirkbank desired nothing better. She rattled 01 for three-quarters of an hour about her doings in the grea world, her social triumphs, the wonderful things she ha< done for Sir George, who seemed to be as a puppet in he; hands, the princes and princelings she had entertained, th songs she had composed, the comedy she had written, fo: private representation only, albeit the Haymarket manage was dying to produce it, the scathing witticisms with whicl she had withered her social enemies. She would have gom on much longer but for the gong which reminded her tha

it was time to dress for dinner.

Half-an-hour later Lady Kirkbank was in the drawing room, where Mary had retired to the most shadowy corner anxious to escape the gaze of the fashionable visitor.

But Lady Kirkbank was not inclined to take much notici of Mary. Leshia's brilliant beauty, the exquisite Greel head, the faultless complexion, the deep violet eyes, caugh \ Georgina Kirkbank's eye the moment she entered the room

and she saw that this girl and no other must be the beauty, the beloved and chosen grandchild.

"How do you do, my dear?" she said, taking Leshia's hand, and then, as if with a gush of warm feeling, suddenly drawing the girl towards her and kissing her on both cheeks. " I am going to be despetately fond of you, and I hope you

will soon conti ive to like me-just a little." v

"I feel sure that I shall like you very much," Lesbia answered sweetly. " I am prepared to love you as grand-

mother's old friend. "

"Oh} my dear, to think that I should ever be the old friend of anybody's grandmother," sighed Lady Kirkbank with unaffected regret. " When I was your age I used to think ail old people odious. It never occurred to me that I

should live to be one of them."

" Then you had no dear grandmother whom you loved," said Lesbia, "or you would have liked old people for her

sake."

"No, my love, I had no grandparents. I had a father, and he was all sufficient-anything beyond him in the ancestral line would have utterly crushed me." '

Dinner was announced, and Mary came shyly out of her corner, blushing deeply.

"And this is Lady Mary, I suppose," said Lady Kirk- bank, in an offhand way. " How do you do, my dear ? I am going to steal your sister."

" I am very glad," faltered Mary. " I mean I am glad that Lesbia should enjoy herself."

" And some fine day when Lesbia is married and a great, lady I shall ask you to come to Scotland," said Lady Kirk- bank, condescendingly, and then" she murmured in her friend's ear, as they went to the dining room, " quite an English girl. Very fresh, and frank, and nice," which was great praise for such a second rate young person as Lady Mary.

" What do you think of Lesbia?" asked Lady Maulevrier, in the same undertone.

" She is simply perfect. Your letters prepared me to expect beauty, but not such beauty. My dear, I thought the progress of the human race was all io a downward, line since our time, but your grand-daughter is as handsome as you were in your first season, and that is going very far."