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and had hurried round to his side immediately the ladies left the room; and all had magnified his wealth and cared no longer for his vulgarity. In consequence his his tongue was loosened; his laugh resounded.

Not an acquaintance he possessed but heard of the evening afterwards the evening when he had been as jolly as anybody among the swells, directly he had broken through the crust.

It had to be endured; Jabez had brought it upon himself. He strove to think "Better now than after. Whatever comes of it-better now than after"-but the thought scarcely cheered him.

During dinner he had only one glimpse of his sister-in-law. It was when she rose from the table; the dean was speaking to her, and she tapped the dean with her fan-tapped him to be silent, while she swayed and smiled to Lady Tilbury. Apparently Mrs. Amos had also broken through the crust.

In the drawing-room it was the same; the pair had now got out their horns, and were no longer watchful and careful; the apple-blossom satin, with its redundant breadths, rustled hither and thither, its wearer quite the hostess-yet a hostess devoid of tact, elegance, inobtrusiveness; while on the hearthrug, with legs apart and coat-tails ditto, straddled the bulky figure

of her spouse. Amos, full fed, and puffed with wine, talked unceasingly.

Jabez looked almost piteously into the faces of his other guests. One and all had been kind to him, admitted him to their friendship, and accepted unhesitatingly of his hospitality. Of what were they thinking? Mr. Druitt was not a man of the world; it galled him to see the broad amusement on Puddington's face and the twinkle in the dean's eye. General Lossett was eagerly seizing the opportunity, hitherto denied him, of paying court to the supposed millionaire -but the others were laughing at Lossett.

Mr. De Vere, having learnt all he wished to know, had retired to a distant arm-chair to ruminate thereon; and little thin Sir William Wormall, as to whose guzzling proclivities Amos had been so confident, was wandering about restlessly, keeping clear of the hearthrug and its occupant, but casting occasional glances thereat, as though wondering what would happen next.

"None of them will ever forget this," thought Jabez sadly. Could he only have told them that he too would never forget!

He had not, however, called the gathering together without its definite purpose, as we know, a purpose which, after all, made everything else of secondary consideration. The

real point at issue was not-Do my neighbours think my brother a common, ill-bred fellow, and his wife his counterpart? but-What does Lady Tilbury think? What does Iva Kildare think? Try as he might, he could not penetrate the thoughts of either.

"No, and he shan't." Lady Tilbury unflinchingly presented Mr. Druitt with all that he could read in her countenance. She knew perfectly when he was looking at her, and what he was looking at her for. She also saw, to her joy, that Iva was her own daughter, and that there was a dual front set to baffle the explorer. Accordingly, he made nothing of either, and as the evening drew to a close his spirits sank lower and lower.

The carriages began to roll away.

"Iva!" Lady Tilbury's voice in a quick, imperative whisper. She had stepped into the cloak-room and found it by chance empty; Iva was behind, and the two were alone.

"You see what he has done this for?" proceeded Lady Tilbury in an eager undertone. Quick! I want to say something.

66

"Yes."

"Sure?"

Quite sure."

Do you ?"

"Did he ever say anything to you about those relations coming?"

"Never."

"Poor man! I love him for it. Iva, listen:

I shall ask him to bring them to us to-morrow night."

Iva started.

"I shall," said Lady Tilbury distinctly.

A restless movement.

"But I shall," repeated Lady Tilbury, and

went out.

Mr. Druitt was standing by himself at the bottom of the staircase awaiting her descent, and perhaps he had never been so surprised in his life as he was by her first words. Could he believe his ears?

"Yes, do," said the lady gaily; "do come, all of you. If Mrs. Druitt will kindly excuse my going back to the drawing-room to invite her personally? I did not think of it till this We shall be alone, but that you will not mind. May we expect you, then?" She had taken his arm, and was stepping along by his side. Would she feel the arm tremble.

moment.

"Thank you from the bottom of my heart, Lady Tilbury."

Lady Tilbury might make what she chose out of the remark. As a matter of fact, she comprehended it perfectly.

298

CHAPTER XXXII.

HE HEADED STRAIGHT FOR TILBURY COURT.

GONE-gone-gone!

Who has not known the glow of relief, the throb of ecstasy, when they are really and actually gone-not merely going, but gonethose terrible guests whose presence entailed cordiality and amiability, and a suffocating intimacy, while yet nature at every turn rebelled? What a deep-drawn sigh bursts from the bosom -how do the muscles of the face expand! Hi! Juno-good dog!-here, here, here! There's a good Juno-shall have a run to-day! A fig for trouble-avaunt thee, duty! The sun shines, the birds sing-all is holiday! The incubus is removed. Richard is himself again.

Mr. Jabez Druitt stood at his hall door, listening till the last sound of the departing wheels died away, and turning to re-enter the hall with a skip, was only just stopped in time by the vision of Grindle, with an expression of countenance so like his own that it told him

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