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with finery, and laughed to herself, well pleased, as she passed on.

Maud was not to go to the dinner, whereat Maud was very wroth; but the other two were of one mind on the occasion.

"Here we are, and here we go!" whispered Lady Tilbury, stepping into the carriage gay as the child embarking on a frolic. "Up with the windows, Iva, or we shall take cold, when we are both so excited-and I could not bring myself to heap on a fur cloak over these lovely sleeves-nor could you, I see." She had on a delicate summer opera cape.

"We must take our chance," proceeded the lively lady, shrugging her shoulders. "I hope the rooms will be well warmed-but of course they will. He is not the man to neglect any one's comfort, and we poor things in our low necks would be killed by draughts-Iva, where was it we were so miserable because the electric light had just been put in, and they had not reckoned on it's being so cold?" And she prattled on.

A carriage was turning in at the gate, and another was passed in the avenue, returning empty from the front door.

"Isn't it fun?" cried Lady Tilbury. Perhaps the dean's wife would have reverted to her first impression had she heard. She never could be quite sure yet that Lady Tilbury, in

spite of her "kind heart," was not rather a silly woman. Certainly, for a middle-aged lady of position, she had quite a ridiculous amount of animal spirits.

She now cleared the window pane from its trickling dew with a whisk of the carriage rug, and strained her eyeballs to see what she could see. "It looks like a place in a fairy tale, Iva -so weird and ancient, yet so gay. Who would ever have thought of seeing Old Cary Hall like this? There are—who are they? I wish I could see better. Who can those people be?"

Iva did not care who they were; her thoughts were otherwise engaged.

This beautiful place, these romantic halls, were they to be her home? Her present home was also beautiful and stately in its own way; but not like this. Tilbury Court had no vast recesses, no mystic archways, no historic memories.

She hoped-she did hope-Mr. Druitt would not look out of place in their midst.

It seemed a cruel hope, and one that ought not to have arisen. Had not Mr. Druitt already shown that he appreciated to its fullest extent the romance of such a dwelling? Had he not in quiet confidences betrayed the gentle enthusiasm with which it inspired him? She need not be afraid, and she shook off the passing shadow ere it had even been perceived.

286

CHAPTER XXXI.

IF THIS ISN'T HIGH SOCIETY!"

"Good gracious! what a very dreadful woman!"

Mrs. Amos Druitt was in all her glory. Never before, she told herself, had she sat at a table flanked by a dean on one side, and a K.C.B. on the other-moreover, there was a general and an M.P. further down the board. A general and a member of Parliament in secondary places! She forgave Jabez everything.

He was no longer an idle, foolish dreamer; no longer a deserter who had left her husband in the lurch; he had done the right thing at last, and bygones should be bygones in the light of this splendid atonement.

On her arrival the night before, she had wanted to fuss and fidget, to inquire into arrangements and preparations, and be posted up, as she declared, in her own part. Her countenance had fallen somewhat when she found how small, apparently, that part was.

"I shall introduce the ladies to you, and you will know how to get on with them," said her

brother-in-law quietly. "I don't imagine there is anything else."

"But how shall I know which is which, or who is to receive the most attention?”

He had then produced his list, and instructed her; but when he had done she did not feel much enlightened. She would have liked more detail. Lady Tilbury of course she knew about; but there was Lady Wormall, and Mrs. Chancellor, and

"I cannot tell you more about them than that they are my neighbours," said he. "I have been at their houses, so now they come to mine. You will help me to make it agreeable to them." "Oh, of course. Still, if I knew what to

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"Will they not know that? I am no judge of such matters, but I should have supposed that it would be for them to lead the way, that they would

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To be sure. Oh, we shall get on excellently, I don't doubt! A dean's wife is sure to be a nice person; and Lady Wormall-who did you say Lady Wormall was?"

"Her husband was an Indian judge, and knighted on his retirement.'

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'Then I must talk about India."

"You'll land yourself in a precious mess if you do." Amos had been listening, all ears,

up to this point; any information that came to him in a round-about way would be greedily drunk in; but he was not going to play the interrogator on his own account. He loved the sound of his own voice, however, too dearly to keep silence longer, and moreover, fancied his brother had said all he meant to say on the subject.

"What's talk?" said he contemptuously. Any one can talk. Your Indian what-d'yecall-him will want to eat his dinner-not to be bothered with gabble. Is your soup sure to be right, Jay? Old Indians know what's what in soup; and I and I expect your nabob comes prepared for a guzzle."

By the time Jabez retired to his toilet the next evening, he almost wished he could undo what he had done. He had not remembered what Amos was like on the occasion of a dinner-party.

All day long, having nothing better to do, Amos sauntered about, his hands in his pockets, watching the arrivals. Here was the station van; here the confectioner's cart. He met both at the back entrance, and followed them into the yard. Whistling softly under his breath, he stood by as hampers and boxes were unpacked, ready to bear a hand if required, com petent to issue instructions which no one seemed to need.

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