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was wondering whether he should ever demean himself to inquire again, the post brought a second letter from Mr. Worthington, containing enough to satisfy his curiosity in all conscience. When he read that since penning the previous epistle the lawyer had learnt that a whole army of workmen had entered into possession of Old Cary Hall; that the ancient structure itself was being overhauled from tower to basement; that a landscape gardener with his myrmidons was at work on terraced lawn and gravel-path; that the stables were being newly roofed and glazed; and that the whole domain rang with the sounds of hammering and scraping-when he read this, poor Sir Philip, once more stung to the quick, in a frenzy of passion tore the letter in a hundred pieces, cursed alike Worthington who had written it and himself who had asked for it, and just stopped short of cursing Mr. Jabez Druitt, who was the real offender, as he-took a fresh cigar out of his case.

Sir Philip was a gentleman; he looked at his cigar curiously. "I used to smoke such vile things," he murmured half aloud; then after a few puffs, "Owe this cigar to Jabez," said he quite complacently.

185

CHAPTER XX.

"DIDN'T SIR THOMAS TELL ME TO BE CAREFUL?”

"WHAT do you say, Iva? Oh, that ‘One of them was better than the other'. But then, we may be sure it is the other' we shall have," said Lady Tilbury, giving her muff a little shake of conviction. "It always is, you know. And where did you see them, Iva? Passing through the village? Oh, turning out of the avenue. Well, Sophy Lossett told me they were extraordinary-looking men, and she saw them several times. Sophy always sees everybody. I cannot imagine how she does it."

"My dear Lady Tilbury "-it was the dean's wife who spoke "there are people who simply spend their days in busying themselves with their neighbours' affairs. They have none of their own. If Miss Lossett would engage in

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"Oh, well, she's a good daughter to her old father;" Lady Tilbury was always on the lenient side; "and Sophy does visit the cottages. But, you see, that can't fill up all her

time and after all, old maids must have their gossip. For my part, I own I look to the Lossetts for the news of the countryside; when I see either of them coming up our way, I know I am in for a regular budget."

"I have no time for gossip;" but the austere accents relaxed as Mrs. Chancellor regarded the bright face in front of her, and recollected what Lady Tilbury had had "time for" once. "Of course, it is a great deal to you who you are to have for a neighbour," graciously conceded she. "Old Cary Hall being so very close at hand, and the two houses being in a manner isolated by their own extensive surroundings, I sincerely hope you will be able to admit Mr. Druitt to Tilbury Court. There is no Mrs. Druitt, you say?"

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'Not a trace of her. So what the man can want with that huge house-but of course he may have relations. To tell the honest truth, I am expiring with curiosity to see the relations. I hope a whole gang of them will come down. It would be so very amusing."

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"Amusing My dear Lady Tilbury!"
"Amusing! Mother!"

For once the correct, conventional dean's wife and the impulsive Irish girl were in accord; Mrs. Chancellor from one point of view, and

Iva Kildare from another, were almost equally horrified by the gay remark.

"Oh, yes; vastly amusing!" nodded Lady Tilbury merrily. "The greatest fun in the world. Iva looks black at me because-of course I am as sorry as she that Sir Philip Goffe had to sell, and that poor dear Reggie," (Iva groaned within herself), "whom we were all so fond of, will never come in for the old place now. But then, he never could have lived at it," proceeded she, in clear accents; "it would just have been Sir Philip over again. So, much as we miss Reggie," ("Oh, do take care!" another inward objurgation from Iva; the photograph scene had taken place within the very house where now her heedless parent ran on), "I daresay it is all for the best," summed up the speaker, comfortably beaming over her muff, as though totally unaware of the expressions on the different faces.

No one suspected for a moment that beneath that innocent babble there was a purpose. Least of all did Iva, on tenter-hooks lest her mother should say too much or too little-should be too affectionate towards the absentee, or too pointedly avoid his name-least of all did she give the speaker credit for the wisdom beneath the mask.

But lest our readers should miss it also-as

they certainly would had they sat by in the dean's drawing-room, and witnessed the nonchalance with which Lady Tilbury acquitted herself of her mission-we may just inform them that no word of the above but had been carefully studied and mentally rehearsed; indeed, that the present expedition had been expressly undertaken for the purpose of carrying it out.

Not owing Mrs. Chancellor a call, she had made an excuse for one. Something had

reached her ears which had not reached Iva's, and this was the result.

"Poor darling! So that was at the bottom of the sulky fit-and no wonder!" the sympathetic creature had cried in community with herself. "It has been set a-going that she and Reggie are sweethearts-set a-going before she knew it herself, and before ever a word had been spoken! Musha! that was what I was afraid of. I saw it coming. And she won't speak of it-not even to me. It's just deep

down in her own heart, where she hides it close, close, as I did once, pretending to myself that I no more cared for Jack Kildare than the post by the garden gate"-the tender ruminations flowing freely-"but oh, my poor Iva, your Jack is not for you!"-the widow would sigh and wipe her eyes, full of love and pity. "Sure he's a fine boy, and I would have welcomed

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