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66

Sir Philip stole a glance. Faith, this is a little queer!" quoth he to himself.

It was something, however, to have found a subject on which his uncommunicative nephew would talk, and he took mental note that whenever conversation flagged he could always set it going again by a remark about the Tilburys.

Obviously the Tilburys had counted for a good deal in Reggie's life, and as obviously no one else at the present moment-counted for anything. The traveller had no one else to whom farewell was to be said. He professed no desire to communicate the great change which had taken place in his life to any other human being.

"I'll just pack up, and tell the Hodges toto look after Jess," he said, "unless

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"Take her with you to Tilbury Court. Lady Tilbury would give the poor brute a home for your sake, I doubt not."

"I was thinking so," said Reggie slowly. But he was not thinking precisely so. He was substituting another name for that of Lady Tilbury.

135

CHAPTER XV.

"ALL'S OVER NOW."

THE ladies were in the garden, and saw the gentlemen approaching.

One was Reggie, of course, and Iva flushed and shook a little as she discerned the wellknown figure; but who could the other be?

"Some one he has fished up to bring along and tide over the awkwardness," concluded she, relieved by the idea. "That shows some sense, at any rate. We shall have to laugh it off, and have a sort of silly reconciliation; and I must get that thing out of him, or at any rate have his solemn promise that he will put it with the rest, and have no sort of sentimental nonsense about it in the future. It was just what I was afraid of—something of this kind—when I told mother we should have to keep that boy at arm's length; but I never guessed how bad it would be. Well, I have got to go through with it;" and Miss Kildare turned to the young visitor whom she was escorting through the flowerborders. "Have you ever met Reggie Goffe?

Oh, yes, I am sure you have. He is always here, when he is not anywhere else—I mean when he is on leave, and is not shooting or fishing at houses-I mean

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"Who can that be with Reggie, Iva?" came Lady Tilbury's voice from the rear.

"Can't imagine, dear mother," cried Iva gaily back.

And when Reggie presented his uncle, even Sir Philip felt it odd to be so absolutely unrecognised in his native place.

He could, however, find no fault with his reception; indeed, the announcement of his name caused quite a little sensation in the group; and Lady Tilbury, who had never yet acquired the properly passive demeanour of the British matron, coloured and exclaimed with an animation which made her look handsomer than ever.

Unfortunately, it was too late in the day for Sir Philip now to think so. He had sold his lands, let Lady Tilbury look as charming as she chose.

But, at any rate, he would enjoy the very becoming warmth and effusiveness of her welcome; he would respond with gallantry, and accept the position of chief guest with alacrity. He stroked his beard, perked his head, recalled that he had seen a fine-looking man in the glass that morning, and set about talking to her

agreeable ladyship with all the zest in the world.

"Miss St. Leger has just come over from Ireland, Reggie," said Iva, conducting her small party behind. It had been reinforced by Miss St. Leger's aunt, who had been ousted by Sir Philip.

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'Such a beautiful country!" cried the young lady, thus indirectly appealed to. And we were stopping in such a beautiful part! Do you know Ireland well?" and she proceeded to accept the young man with whom she had been tacitly presented. Iva fell back and walked with the aunt.

"She shan't be shunted a second time, poor soul," quoth she, able now to laugh again—now that the momentous meeting was over, and nobody the worse. Lady Tilbury had crossquestioned her daughter with some pertinacity on the previous evening, but had got nothing out of Iva. Iva had allowed--that was to say, she had not denied that things had gone cross between her and Reggie Goffe, and that one of the old discords had taken place between them; but she had refused flatly to say what the discord was. He had been tiresome and heedless -just like a great silly boy-was all she would

aver.

"You yourself say: 'What is the use of

being angry with him?'" cried Lady Tilbury at last, "and that there is nothing he likes better than to get people angry with him; yet you have just walked into his trap!" But if she thought that Iva would walk into hers she was mistaken. Iva was not to be caught.

Iva had recognised the difference between Reggie's present misdeed and former ones. This one was involuntary. Therein lay an

appalling line of demarcation.

It was so every way appalling that it called for an entirely new coat of armour on her part. She had, it is true, been betrayed into a momentary explosion; but she had thought things over in the night, and cooled down.

After all, she was a woman; and let a woman be ever so wroth with homage to her charms, she will melt in time.

To be sure, she mused, Reggie was-there was no reason why Reggie should not be-if Reggie were impecunious, and impossible, that did not prevent his-his having feelings like other men. They all knew he was fond of them—of the family, as a family. In her own heart she also knew that he was-was fondest of her. "Of course, he always liked me best," she told herself frankly. And a little voice within announced further that she would have been indignant at the bare idea of not being liked best.

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