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had a chance of not exulting over the fallen Reggie. He would have liked to show young Mr. Goffe that he could be generous.

In short, Mr. Druitt was beloved and respected by all, and only Iva, in a tart mood, had once observed: "Any one could be kind and charitable with plenty of money, plenty of time, and no one to say a word, whatever one did,” -but she forgot to think of this now, with Mr. Druitt at her side.

Mr. Druitt was always at his best with Ivathat is to say, he came out of shell entirely. Fears and doubts such as assailed him whenever he called to remembrance the maternal warnings of old were out of place, would have been preposterous, so far as Iva Kildare was concerned.

Such a nice girl! So unaffected; so natural and charming! He could say what he liked to her, behave as he liked with her, and have no nonsense thought.

To begin with, he was double her age, (possibly rather more, but he was not eager to be exact,) and to go on with, she was above him in social standing; and was furthermore a lovely creature, probably refusing offers by the dozen, waiting only for the survival of the fittest. She was not only wholly to be absolved from any suspicion of a design upon his freedom, but would have been insulted by such. Oh, he

could be very safe with Iva!

friendly—it was a delightful feeling.

Safe, merry,

What a beautiful evening it was; fit close for a glorious day! What had Miss Kildare been about?

Having exhausted his own doings, our foxhunter, feeling half ashamed of the expansion into which he had been led by the joy of having an auditor, now drew away from his own concerns.

It was then that for the first time he noticed a shade on Iva's brow, a gravity in the full, dark eyes which were upturned to his. Beautiful eyes they were; Jabez felt a little stirring of his pulses.

"Do you often walk alone?" he queried next, having elicited only vague responses to his former interrogation.

"I do now." The hesitation, and some significance in the "now," struck Mr. Druitt. He began to perceive.

He shot a second and more searching glance.

No, he had not been mistaken; the fair oval cheek, with its rich, soft colour, on which the setting sun was casting a lingering beam, was not that of a happy girl, and at the very moment he was thinking so, an involuntary sigh burst from lips that, rosy and ripe as they were, drooped at the corners.

Iva was looking straight in front of her, but Jabez Druitt moved a pace nearer to her side.

251

CHAPTER XXVII.

"IT MEANS-WHAT IT MEANS."

"DEAR me! Mr. Druitt here again! Why, this is the third time within a fortnight! Well, I am sure I am very glad to see him," quoth Lady Tilbury, who was always ready for a man in any shape. "Go down, Iva, and say I am coming. Shan't be a minute."

"I can wait for you, mother."

"Wait? Oh, no need. I am only going to take off my muddy boots; the roads were in such a state!-but you go down, and say I am coming. Is tea up?"

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They were taking it up as we crossed the hall. I found Mr. Druitt on the doorstep, He's all right; I put

and brought him in. him in the drawing-room and left him there." "Is Maud coming down?"

"Not till dinner."

Maud was nursing a cold in her bedroom, and things had in consequence gone more smoothly for the past day or two. There had been a revival of the solitude à deux, which,

possibly in conjunction with something else, had revived Iva's spirits, and she looked quite the Iva of old as she lingered in the room whilst Lady Tilbury put her hat straight and clasped her collar anew in front of the lookingglass. Suddenly she popped down upon the floor.

"Let me unloose your boots, mother."

"Thank you, love." A neat little hobnailed boot was put out. No one had a prettier foot and ankle than Lady Tilbury, and she employed a Bond Street bootmaker even for the strong-soled, serviceable boots in country use.

"What a nice little foot you have!" said Iva, talking away. "It is smaller than mine, though none of the girls can get on my shoes."

"Sir Thomas was always proud of my feet!" The widow took a complacent peep, as the foot emerged from its covering like a kernel from its husk. "It was he who told me where to go for my boots. He always wore great clumsy things himself, fit only for a ploughman; but I had to show him my feet whenever I had on a new pair, and if they weren't just right he would fuss till they were."

"Where are your slippers?" said Iva, looking round.

"Over there. Oh, but it's nice to feel your

dear little warm hands," said Lady Tilbury, patting her on the shoulder. "Oh, but my feet are cold!

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"They have no business to be cold when you have been walking." Still holding a foot in one hand, Iva stretched across the floor, and drew towards her the slippers which were within reach. "You should have changed directly you came in, madam mother, and not allowed your little toes to get cold. Now you're ready; now we'll go down," and she held open the door and stood back till Lady Tilbury, always rather disposed to drift about a room at the last, was fairly through the door-way; when, attaching her by the arm, the two proceeded downstairs.

Lady Tilbury, who was usually quick enough, did not notice anything peculiar; and if Mr. Druitt felt any disappointment at being left to his own company until both ladies were ready for it, he kept his feelings to himself.

He was standing by the window, looking out; and only turned, rather quickly, as the door opened.

Mr. Druitt, albeit not in hunting costume, (for a frost had set in), looked nice enough in a well-made homespun suit with fitting accessories, and an experienced eye would have seen at a glance that he had not come to call

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