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“ It was stratagem against stratagem. Mine was ingenious; yours was masterly. Accept my acknowledgment. We will enter upon an armed neutrality." “No. Let me be your adorer and slave again, as ever.

Your beauty, dearest, covers everything! You are my mistress and queen! But here we are at the door. Tea is prepared for us here. I have a liking for life in this cottage mode, and live here on occasion. Women, attend to Lady Mountclere."

The woman who had seen Ethelberta in the morning was alarmed at recognizing her, having since been informed officially of the marriage : she murmured entreaties for pardon. They assisted the viscountess to a chair, the door was closed, and the wind blew past as if nobody had ever stood there to interrupt its flight.

Full of misgivings, Christopher continued to wait at the north gate. Half-past seven had long since been past, and no Ethelberta had appeared. , He did not for a moment suppose the delay to be hers, and this gave him patience; having taken up the position, he was induced by fidelity to abide by the consequences. It would be only a journey of two hours to reach Anglebury Station; he would ride outside with the driver, put her into the train, and bid her adieu for ever. She had cried for help, and he had heard her cry.

At last through the trees came the sound of the Court clock striking eight, and then, for the first time, a doubt arose in his mind whether she could have mistaken the gate. Sol had distinctly told him the west lodge; her note had expressed the north lodge. Could she by any accident have written one thing while meaning another? He entered the carriage, and drove round to the west gate. All was as silent there as at the other, the meeting between Ethelberta and Lord Mountclere being then long past, and he drove back again.

He left the carriage, and entered the park on foot, approaching the house slowly. All was silent; the windows were dark; moping sounds came from the trees and sky, as from Sorrow whispering to Night. By this time he felt assured that the scheme had miscarried. While he stood here a carriage without lights came up the drive; it turned in towards the stable-yard without going to the door. The carriage bad plainly been empty.

Returning across the grass by the way he had come, he was startled by the voices of two men from the road hard by.

“Have ye seed anybody?”
“ Not a soul.”
“Shall we go across again ?”
“ What's the good ? let's home to supper."
“ My lord must have heard somebody, or 'a wouldn't have said it.”

"Perhaps he's nervous now he's living in the cottage again, I thought that fancy was over. Well, I'm glad 'tis a'young wife he's brought us

She'll have her routs and her rackets as well as the high-born ones, you'l see, as soon as she gets used to the place.”

“She must be a queer Christian to pick up with him."

“Well, if she've Christian charity 'tis enough for we poor inen; her faith and hope may be as please God. Now I be for on-along home ward."

As soon as they had gone Christopher moved from his hiding, and avoiding the gravel-walk, returned to his coachman, telling him to drive at once to Anglebury.

Julian was so impatient of the futility of his adventure that he wished to annihilate its existence. On reaching Anglebury he determined to get on at once to Melchester, that the event of the night might be summarily ended; to be still in the neighbourhood was to be still engaged in it. He reached home before midnight.

Walking into their house in High Street, as dissatisfied with himself as a man well could be who still retained health and an occupation, he found Faith sitting up as usual. His news was simple: the marriage had taken place before he could get there, and he had seen nothing of either ceremony or viscountess. The remainder he reserved for a more convenient season.

Faith looked anxiously at him as he ate supper, smiling now and then.

“Well, I am tired of this life,” said Christopher.
“So am I,” said Faith. “Ah, if we were only rich !”

" Ah yes."

“Or if we were not rich,” she said, turning her eyes to the fire. “If we were only slightly provided for, it would be better than nothing. How much would you be content with, Kit?"

“ As much as I could get.” “ Would

you be content with a thousand a year for both of us?” “I daresay I should,” he murmured, breaking his bread. “ Or five hundred for both ?” “ Or five hundred.” “ Or even three hundred ?' “Bother three hundred. Less than double the sum would not satisfy

We may as well imagine much as little." Faith's countenance had fallen. “Oh Kit,” she said, “you always disappoint me."

“I do. How do I disappoint you this time?”

“ By not caring for three hundred a year—a hundred-and-fifty eachwhen that is all I have to offer you.”

“Faith!” said he, looking up for the first time. Her soft eyes were curiously turned upon him.

“ It is true, and I had prepared such a pleasant surprise for you, and now you don't care ! Our cousin Lucy did leave us something after all. I don't understand the exact total sum, but it comes to a hundred-and

me.

namos.

fifty a year each-more than I expected, though not so much as you deserved. Here's the letter. I have been dwelling upon it all day, and thinking what a pleasure it would be ; and it is not after all !”

“Good gracious, Faith, I was only supposing. The real thing is another matter altogether. Well, the idea of Lucy's will containing our

I am sure I would have gone to the funeral had I known.” “I wish it were a thousand!”

“Oh no—it doesn't matter at all. But, certainly, three hundred for two is a tantalizing sum : not enough to enable us to change our condition, and enough to make us dissatisfied with going on as we are."

“We must forget we have it, and let it increase.”

“ It isn't enough to increase much. We may as well use it. But how! Take a bigger house-what's the use? Give up the organ ?-then I shall be rather worse off than I am at present. Positively, it is the most provoking amount anybody could have invented had they tried ever so long. Poor Lucy, to do that, and not even to come near us when father died. . Ah, I know what we'll do. We'll go abroad-we'll live in Italy.”

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CHAPTER L.

ANGLEBURY.-LYCHWORTH.-SANDBOURNE.

Two years and a half after the marriage of Ethelberta, and the evening adventures which followed it, a man young in years, though considerably older in mood and expression, walked up to the Old Fox Inn at Anglebury. The anachronism sat not unbecomingly upon him, and the voice was precisely that of the Christopher Julian of heretofore. His way of entering the inn and calling for a conveyance was more offhand than formerly; he was much less afraid of the sound of his own voice now than when he had gone through the same performance on a certain wet morning the last time that he visited the spot. He wanted to be taken to Knollsea to meet the steamer there, and was not coming back by the same vehicle.

It was a very different day from that of his previous journey along the same road; different in season ; different in weather : and the humour of the observer differed yet more widely from its condition then than did the landscape from its former huez. In due time they reached a commanding situation upon the road, from which were visible knots and plantations of trees on the Lychworth manor. Christopher broke the silence.

“ Lord Mountelere is still alive and well, I am told ?”

Oh, ay. He'll live to be a hundred. Never such a change as has come over the man of late years.”

“ Indeed!”

“Oh, 'tis my lady. She's a one to put up with. Still 'tis said here and there that marrying her was the best day's work that he ever did in his life, although she's got to be my lord and my lady both.”

"Is she happy with him ?”

“She is very sharp with the pore man--about happy I don't know. He was a good-natured old man, for all his sins, and would sooner any day lay out money in new presents than pay it in old debts. But 'tis altered now.

'Tisn't the same place. Ah, in the old times I have seen the floor of the servants' hall over the vamp of your boot in solid beer that we had poured aside from the horns because we couldn't see straight enough to pour it in. See? No, we couldn't see a hole in a ladder. And now, even at Christmas or Whitsuntide, when a man, if ever he desires to be overcome with a drop, would naturally wish it to be, you can walk out of Lychworth as straight as you walked in. All her doings."

“ Then she holds the reins."

“She do! There was a little tussle at first; but how could a old man hold his own against such a spry young body as that ! She threatened to run away from him, and kicked up Bob's-a-dying, and I don't know what all; and being the woman, of course she was sure to beat in the long run. Pore old nobleman, she marches him off to church every Sunday as regular as a clock, makes him read family prayers that haven t been read in Lychworth for the last thirty years to my certain knowledge, and keeps him down to three glasses of wine a day, strict, so that you never see him any the more generous for liquor or a bit elevated at all, as it used to be. There, 'tis true, it has done him good in one sense, for they say he'd have been dead in five years if he had gone on as he was going."

“So that she's a good wife to him, after all.”

Well, if she had been a little worse 'twould have been a little better for him in one sense, for he would have had his own way more. But he was a curious feller at one time, as we all know, and I suppose 'tis as much as he can expect; but 'tis a strange reverse for him. It is said that when he's asked out to dine, or to anything in the way of a jaunt,

flies across to hers afore he answers : and if her eye says yes, he says yes; and if her eye says no, he says no. 'Tis a sad condition for one who ruled womankind as he, that a woman should lead him in a string whether he will or no.”

“ Sad indeed !"

“She's steward, and agent, and everything. She has got a room called my lady's office,' and great ledgers and cash-books you never see the like. In old times there were bailiffs to look after the workfolk, foremen to look after the tradesmen, a building-steward to look after the foremen, a land-steward to look after the building-steward, and a dashing grand agent to look after the landsteward ; fine times they had then, I assure ye. My lady said they

his eye

were eating out the property like a honeycomb, and then there was a terrible row.

Half of 'em were sent flying; and. now there's only the agent, and the viscountess, and a sort of surveyor man, and of the three she does most work, so 'tis said. She marks the trees to be felled, settles what horses are to be sold and bought, and is out in all winds and weathers. There, if somebody hadn't looked into things 'twould soon have been all up with his lordship, he was so very extravagant. In one sense 'twas lucky for him that she was born in humble life, because owing to it she knows the ins and outs of contriving, which he never did.”

“ Then a man on the verge of bankruptcy will do better to marry a poor

and sensible wife than a rich and stupid one. Well, here we are at the tenth milestone. I will walk the remainder of the distance to Knollsea, as there is ample time for meeting the last steamboat."

When the man was gone Christopher proceeded slowly on foot down the hill, and reached that part of the highway at which he had stopped in the cold November breeze waiting for a woman who never came. He was older now, and he had ceased to wish that he had not been disappointed. There was the lodge, and around it were the trees, brilliant in the shining greens of June. Every twig sustained its bird, and every blossom its bee. The roadside was not muffled in a garment of dead leaves as it had been then, and the lodge-gate was not open as it always used to be. He paused to look through the bars. The drive was well-kept and gravelled; the grass edgings, formerly marked by hoofs and ruts, and otherwise trodden away, were now green and luxuriant, bent sticks being placed at intervals as a protection.

While he looked through the gate a woman stepped from the lodge to open it. In her haste she nearly swung the gate into his face, and would have completely done so had he not jumped back.

“I beg pardon, sir," she said, on perceiving bim. “I was going to open it for my lady, and I didn't see you."

Christopher moved round the corner. The perpetual snubbing that he had received from Ethelberta ever since he had known her seemed about to be continued through the medium of her dependents.

A trotting, accompanied by the sound of light wheels, had become perceptible; and then a vehicle came through the gate, and turned up the road which he had come down. He saw the back of a basketcarriage, drawn by a pair of piebald ponies. A lad in livery sat behind with folded arms; the driver was a lady. He saw her bonnet, her shoulders, her hair—but no more. She lessened in his gaze, and was soon out of sight.

He stood a long time thinking; but he did not wish her his.

In this wholesome frame of mind he proceeded on his way, thankful that he had escaped meeting her, though so narrowly. But perhaps at this remote season the embarrassment of a rencounter would not have been intense. At Knollsea he entered the steaner for Sandbourne.

Mr. Chickerel and his family now lived at Firtop Villa in that

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