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Whenever he heard that Reggie was about, this compassion would take shape in the form he himself would best have appreciated; and it had found a not ungrateful recipient. There had been days of tramping the stubble, followed by cosy dinners in the lesser dining-room at Tilbury Court, when the slim lad had been all alone and quite at home with the two kindly elders, the stolid, benignant, steady-eating Sir Thomas, and the merry, lively, pretty Lady Tilbury.

He had been proud of his position as guest, enjoying Iva's envy and rueful look on saying "Good-night" before the other three went in to dinner. He was seven years Iva's senior, and though she tried to be on terms of strict equality at other times-even to look down on him as 'only a boy, who thought he was a man because he had a gun”—there was no getting over the distinction drawn at dinner-time.

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Lady Tilbury was not going to give in on this point. She had one or two very clear ideas in her head, and she drew the line with a firm hand when she did draw it. Iva's fine eyes and complexion were not to be ruined by late hours or ever the world had a chance of seeing them.

To Iva herself, her mother only seemed to have a tiresome "kink" upon the subject.

Without saying why, she was a hard-hearted woman every night when eight o'clock arrived.

All of this, and much more of the same, now floated in confused phantasmagoria before the troubled gaze of a motionless figure seated on a fallen tree in the moonlight.

If just supposing-if-it were the casethat he had had any sort of reason for having played the fool with that thing in his pocketbook, what kind of return was this for all those years of kindness and free intimacy?

Was it not because such an outcome of them was wholly and absolutely beyond his reach that it had never been taken into consideration? He had been accredited with good sense and good feeling; and looking back, he now knew that he had once possessed both.

What had become of them?

Once or twice of recent years, especially when the increasing beauty of Iva Kildare had been the theme of the neighbourhood, he had been amused to see the side looks cast at him, and to gather that Iva's mother was held to be an imprudent parent from the matrimonial point of view.

Conscious that his heart was whole, and proud of the trust reposed in him, he had enjoyed the hints of the gossips. They would soon be a stop to, and that in the most natural and

put

common-place manner. Iva would make a great marriage, and he would act as verger— the modern rendering for dance a jig—at her wedding. Wherever his regiment might be, he would apply for leave to be present on the interesting occasion.

"Then, I suppose, I should have to turn off Maud?" he was wont to cogitate, puffing cigar at his ease. "Fat Maud won't flit as easily as Iva, but she has a gilt backing; she'll go some time or other. Perhaps I shall have peace by then," he would sigh plaintively to himself. It was a pity he could never vent this burden of his soul, it would have been such a fruitful grievance.

But-now-now-now, what about now? Letting one's thoughts drift and range over the past is easy, and in its absence of all effort dulls the poignancy of the present; but dreaming, recalling, cursing one's folly, and lashing the ground with aimless, meaningless strokes lead to nothing--scarcely even to self-revelation. Reggie took off his cap and wiped his forehead; he was surprised to find it wet beneath his curls. Then he became aware that he was hot all over and wondered what good that did? And what was he sitting there for? And what the deuce was the meaning of it all?

92

CHAPTER XI.

A LIGHT IN THE TOWER.

Ar length the young man rose and straightened himself.

He was stiff and cramped from sitting still so long on a raw autumn night, and this combined with the ferment in his blood, made him shiver with heat and cold alike. The happy thought occurred to him that perhaps he was going to be ill.

To be ill, and have to lie in bed?

Yes, he would go to bed, sip slops, send for the doctor, and shut the door against everybody else.

The doctor would tell them at Tilbury Court that he had a patient at Old Cary Farm, and Lady Tilbury would be duly impressed and sympathetic-oh, she would be quite in a fuss, and down to inquire before he could look round -while Iva would be silent, with remorse at her heart.

Iva would not confide in her mother; of that he felt certain. She would listen to expressions

of anxiety and commiseration with an unmoved countenance, possibly with an incredulous smile.

Almost certainly she would not believe in the illness at the first, saying to herself, if not openly, that somebody had cried "Wolf!" too often, and that no more pity was to be wrung out of her.

But she could not hold out long if Thompson, whose dictum was law at Tilbury Court, were on his side.

Oh, if he could only be ill!

And then he could worry out the whole thing comfortably, and see if he were really such aif he had gone and done such a--if he had not been fool enough to be scared by a-every sentence ran up as it were to a barred gate, and shied, instead of leaping to a conclusion.

Meantime, the young man stumbled along in the moonlight. He was sure he was going to be ill, he walked so queerly; like a ploughman clumping over the cobbles, or a sot lurching away from the public-house. Still more like old Father Stevens, as Iva called him, when hobbling off after a meditation from his hole in the wall.

Ill? He was certainly going to be ill. And why shouldn't he be ill? Why not he, as well as other people? Hang it! he would be ill if he chose. He had had a horrid afternoon, and

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