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Nevertheless, Mr. Druitt rather hoped to encounter no one who had seen him start, and whom such a swift return would set wondering, as he trotted back; and could he have shirked clattering through the village, with its noisy cobbles, he would have done so. As this was impossible, the next best thing was to provide himself with an excuse in the event of General Lossett-ha! was that the general? A very queer word for a man like Jabez to use exploded internally, and there was a quick jerk of the rein, which had the effect of nearly stopping Jeremiah.

But the grey outline, which took a dozen shapes ere it finally relieved our horseman's mind, although probably not unlike what the old soldier's had been thirty years before, resembled it now only in being slight, while Lossett was lean, and making up by erect carriage for an inch less of actual height.

"A young man," said Jabez to himself, eyeing the advancing figure with equanimity, "and no one I have ever seen before. Looks pretty

hard at me," and he rather wondered he was not stopped by an inquiry as he sauntered past. Indeed, he could have sworn the stranger made a movement towards him and stopped. "I should have been most happy to tell him the way," reflected the courteous Druitt, for a moment distracted from his own affairs. "A

stranger, evidently. I trust I did not look forbidding. Nice-looking fellow, too."

He was turning in at the gates of Tilbury, and the temptation to see what the nice-looking fellow was about was irresistible. Without peeping directly over his shoulder, he could easily do this, while the lodge-keeper fumbled with her key, and a pat on Jeremiah's haunches supplied the pretext. His eye stole round.

To his surprise, the pedestrian was no longer on the road; he had scrambled up the bank immediately above the spot where he had been passed, and was now leaning against the mossgrown wall which bordered Mr. Druitt's own domain. He had gone straight to a gap in the masonry, of whose existence the owner was now for the first time aware.

"Saw it from the wood, and thought he'd have a peep at the place."

The easy explanation satisfied a mind already overcharged with its own concerns, and acknowledging the dame's curtsy as she drew back one of the folding gates, horse and rider passed through, and the latter dismissed the subject from his thoughts-or rather, it vanished of its own accord. Why should a stranger not look through a piece of broken wall?

306

"IVA!"

CHAPTER XXXIII.

cr THERE HE WAS!-HE HIMSELF!"

Lady Tilbury stopped short, with staring eyes and parted lips. Then she took a step forward as though to see better, but her terrified, bewildered gaze never left her daughter's face. A horrible fear shot through her veins.

"Iva!" The voice sank to a whisper; the speaker caught hold of a chair to steady herself. "Iva, what is it? What-what is it,

Iva?" Iva had left the house early in the afternoon, having been more explicit with her mother regarding Mr. Druitt than she had ever been before, and Lady Tilbury had remained behind to receive him in a very comfortable and contented frame of mind.

All was going well, and there was every favourable omen for the future. Iva had scouted the idea of thinking the less of Mr. Druitt because of his lowly birth and inferior connections—indeed, she had so nicely discriminated between him and them, and so

handsomely appreciated his motive in bringing them to the front, that such zeal could only proceed from a warmer feeling; it was obvious that so ardent an espouser of his cause was more attached than she knew.

She had even jested at her own tremors as the afternoon drew near. "You must have the first of him," she had protested in private. "You must take the edge off"; but it was understood that, although fleeing the scene in its early stages, the coy maiden would return without fail to bear her due part in it ere the dusk began to fall.

Now, not only had the dusk fallen, but darkness set in.

Mr. Druitt had waited and waited; at first cheerfully, buoyed up by the encouragement already received, (for Lady Tilbury had meted this out with no measured hand, her own consent having been won as a matter of course ;) afterwards with growing uneasiness.

Could it be that the delay was of set purpose? He did not put the question, but betrayed its presence in his breast, and Lady Tilbury, who, with all her faults, was neither a liar nor a hypocrite, had met the doubt upon his brow with an emphatic, almost passionate denial.

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'What it means I know not Mr. Druitt,

but this I do know. When my daughter left me two hours ago, her last words were: 'Keep him till I return,' referring to you and your promise of coming here to-day. So far from wishing to evade you, I-no, I don't think I must tell you what Iva said-but of this you may rest assured, absolutely assured, that if I saw her enter the room at this moment, I should have no fears nor misgivings. Something has detained her—I wish we knew what -but that is all."

Presently it was "I cannot help thinking some accident must have happened; Iva is never out in the dark like this ".

Finally, Lady Tilbury rang the bell, and the pony cart was ordered to go down to the village to fetch Miss Kildare. “I don't quite know where she is," said her ladyship, carelessly, "but look about till you find her. Possibly you may pass her in the avenue.'

Mr. Druitt was not taken in by the carelessness. A slight tremble in the voice and a nervous movement of the hands fully enlightened him, and the door had no sooner closed than he rose to go.

"Let me join in the search, Lady Tilbury.” (Lady Tilbury started at the word.) "If anything has happened to Miss Kildare"his own accents faltered, but shaking off what

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