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worse. No! don't be sorry for me; I am a wicked woman, I ought not to feel so. Here I find her again, not a recollection, not an idea, but a grown-up girl, the same age as her mother. Joyce over again, always Joyce!

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Mrs Bellendean did not know how to reply. She sat and gazed at the woman whom she wanted to console, who touched her, revolted her, horrified her all in one, and yet whose real emotion and pain she felt to the bottom of her sympathetic heart. Too much sympathy is perhaps as bad as too little. She was all excitement and delight for Joyce, and yet this other woman's trouble was too genuine not to move her. It was very natural too, and yet dreadful,-a pain to think of. "I am sure, she said, faltering, "that when you know her better when you begin to see what she is in herself: there is no one who does not like Joyce."

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Mrs Hayward had got rid, in this interval, of a handful, so to speak, of hot sudden tears. She was ashamed of them, angry with herself for being thus overcome, and therefore could not be said to weep, or make any other affecting demonstration, but simply hurried off, threw from her angrily, these signs of a pang which she despised, which hurt her pride and her sense of what was seemly as much as it wrung her heart. She shook her head with a sudden angry laugh in the midst of her emotion. "Don't you see? that is the worst of all," she cried.

And at this moment, in the midst of this climax of pain, exasperation, self-disapproval, there arose in soft billows of sound, rising one after the other into all the corners of the great house, the sound of the gong. It reached all the members of the household, along the long corridors and round

the gallery, roused Colonel Hayward from the softened and satisfied pause of feeling which his withdrawal up-stairs had brought him, and called Mrs Bellendean back from the wonderful problem of mingled sentiments in which she was embroiling herself, taking both sides at once, into the more natural feelings of the mistress of the house, whose presence is indispensable elsewhere. But she could not break off all at once this interview, which was so very different from the ordinary talks between strangers. She hesitated even to rise up, conscious of the ludicrous anti-climax of this call to food addressed to people whose hearts were full of the most painful complications of life. At the same time, the sound of her guests trooping down-stairs, and coming in from the grounds, with a murmur of voices, and footsteps in the hall, became every moment more and more clamant. She rose at last, and put her hand on Mrs Hayward's shoulder. "The gentlemen speak," she said, "of things that are solved walking. It will be so with you, dear Mrs Hayward. It will clear up as you go on. Everything will become easier in the doing. Come now to luncheon."

"I to luncheon !—it would choke me," cried Elizabeth, feeling in her impatience, and the universal contrariety of everything, as if this had been the last aggravation of all.

"No," said Mrs Bellendean, putting her arm through that of her guest; "it will do you good, on the contrary: and the Colonel will eat nothing if you are not there. You shall come in your bonnet as you are; and Colonel Hayward will make a good luncheon."

"I believe he is capable of it," Mrs Hayward cried.

CHAPTER XI.

The party was diminished, but still it was a large party. The dining-room at Bellendean was a long room lighted by a line of windows at one side in deep recesses, for the house was of antique depth and strength. The walls were hung with family portraits, a succession of large and imposing individuals, whose presence in uniform or in robes of law, contemplating seriously the doings of their successors, added dignity to the house, but did not do much to brighten or beautify the interior, save in the case of a few smaller portraits, which were from the delightful hand of Raeburn, and made a sunshine in a shady place. The long table, with its daylight whiteness and brightness, concentrated the light, however, and made the ornaments of the walls of less importance; and the cheerful crowd was too much occupied with its own affairs to notice the nervousness of the new-comer, the Colonel's wife, who had only made a brief appearance at breakfast to some of them, and attracted as little warmth of interest as a woman of her age generally does. She sat near Mr Bellendean at the foot of the table, but as he was one of the men to whom it is necessary to a woman to be young and pretty, Mrs Hayward had full opportunity to compose and calm herself with little interference from her host. She was separated almost by the length of the table from her husband, and consequently was safe from his anxious observation; and in the bustle of the mid-day meal, and the murmur of talk around her, Mrs Hayward found a sort of retirement for herself, and composed her mind. Her

self-arguments ended in the ordinary fatalism with which people accept the inevitable. "If it must be, it must be," she said to herself. Perhaps it might not turn out so badly as she feared; that vision of the pupil-teacher, the perfectly well-behaved, wellinstructed girl, who would make her life a burden, and destroy all the privacy and all the enjoyment of her home, was a terrible image : but the sight of so many cheerful faces gradually drove it away.

"Who was I, uncle Bellendean? I was a Saxon court lady. I was in attendance upon Queen Margaret. But she was not queen then; she was only princess, and an exile, don't you know? We had all been nearly drowned, driven up from the Firth by the wind in the east."

"And where were you exiled from? and what were you doing in the Firth?" said Mr Bellendean, who was who was not perhaps thinking much of what he said.

"Well I am sure," said Greta, with her soft Scotch intonation, "I don't very well know; but Joyce does. She will tell you all about it if you ask her."

"This Joyce is a very alarming person. I hear her name wherever I turn. She seems the universal authority. I thought she must be an old governess; but I hear she's a very pretty girl," said young Essex, who was at Greta's side.

"Far the prettiest girl in the parish, or for miles round."

"Speak for yourself, Greta," said a good-natured, blunt-featured young woman beside her, with a laugh. "I have always set up myself as a professional beauty, and I don't give in to Joyceexcept in so far, of course, as con

cerns Shakespeare and the musical glasses, where she is beyond all rivalry."

Sir Harry, who was as little open to the pleasantry of MidLothian as the Scotch in general are supposed to be to English wit, stared a little at the young person who assumed this position. He thought it possible she might be "chaffing," but was by no means sure. And he had no doubt that she was plain. He was too polite, however, to show his perplexity. "Does she receive any male pupils?" he asked. "My tastes are quite undeveloped : even Shakespeare I don't know so well as I ought. One has to get up a play or two now and then for an exam.; and there's 'Hamlet,' &c., at the Lyceum of course."

"Joyce would never forgive you that 'Hamlet,' &c.," said the plain young lady. "You need never hope after that to be pupil of hers."

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Why, what should I say? Irving has done a lot of them. Shylock and and Romeo, don't you know? You don't expect me to have all the names ready. A middle-aged fellow had no business to try Romeo. Come, I know as much as that."

"They are all real people to Joyce," said Greta. "She is not like us, who only take up a book now and then. She lives among books: Shakespeare is her country as much as Scotland. He is not only a poet, he is a-he is awell, a kind of world," she said, blushing a little. "I don't know what other word to use."

"You could not have used a better word," said Norman Bellendean. "I am not a very great reader, but I've found that up at a hill station where one had neither books nor society. I think that was very well said."

Norman looked with a friendly admiration at his little cousin, and she, with a half glance and blush of reply, looked at Mrs Bellendean at the head of the table, who, on her side, looked at them both. There was a great deal more in this mutual communication than met the eye.

"Decidedly," said Sir Harry; "no one is good enough for this society unless he has undergone a preliminary training at the hands of Miss Joyce."

"Don't you think," said a new voice hurriedly, with a ring of impatience in it, "that to bandy about a young lady's name like this is not-not-quite good taste? Probably she would dislike being talked about-and certainly her friends

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The young people turned in consternation to the quarter from which this utterance came. The Colonel's wife had not hitherto attracted much attention. It had been settled that he was an old darling:" but Mrs Hayward had not awakened the interest of these judges. They had decided that she was not good enough for him

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that she had been the governess perhaps, or somebody who had nursed him through an illness, or otherwise been kind to him—and that it was by some of these unauthorised methods that she had become Colonel Hayward's wife. Greta blushed crimson at this rebuke.

"Oh," she said, 66 no one meant anything that was not kind. I would not allow a word to be

said. I-am very fond of her. She is my dear friend."

"Perhaps it is not very good taste to discuss any one," said the plain young lady. "But Mrs Hayward probably does not know who she is."

"I know that she is your in

ferior," said Mrs Hayward, quickly; "but that should make you more particular, not less, to keep her name from being bandied about." "What is that my wife is saying?" said Colonel Hayward from the other end of the table. "I can hear her voice. What are you saying, Elizabeth? She must be taking somebody's part."

"It is nothing, Henry, nothing; I am taking nobody's part," said Mrs Hayward, becoming the colour of a peony. He had leaned forward to see her, for she sat on the same side of the table; and she leaned forward to reply to him, meeting the looks of half the table, amused at this conjugal demand and response. And then she shrank back, obliterating her self as well as she could, half angry, half ashamed, with a look of high temper and nervous annoy: ance which the young people set down to her disadvantage, whispering between themselves, "Poor Colonel Hayward!" and what a pity it was he had not a nicer wife! Greta, however, had compunctions at sight of the mortified and discomfited looks of the stranger. Greta was very kindhearted, and did not like that any one should feel at a disadvantage; whereupon she put forth her little parable, turning towards the head of the table.

"But indeed Mrs Hayward was taking some one's part," she said. "She thought, aunt Margaret, that we ought not to talk so of Joyce. People who do not know Joyce

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"What have I done?" said Greta to herself: for Mrs Bellendean from the head of the table gave her a look, such as no one had ever seen on that lady's pleasant countenance before. Colonel Hayward, who had been leaning forward to listen, with the most benignant looks,

suddenly drew back "as if he had been shot ;" and Greta received in her very heart a dart from Mrs Hayward's eyes, a dart tipped with steel, the girl thought, out of the keen, dazzling blue. She too fell back "as if she had been shot"— feeling herself transfixed by that arrow with points sharper than any steel. And a momentary sensation ran round the table; the others suspended their talk to see what had happened; and for the moment that magical thrill that betrays some passion or event, something different from the common and ordinary, went through the company. There was a distinct pause, and then everybody began to talk again eagerly

all but the Colonel, who laid down his knife and fork (which, indeed, he had been using very vigorously), and subsided into a troubled silence, casting anxious looks, generally behind the backs of the company, in a vain endeavour to catch the eye of his wife.

"Mrs Hayward," said Norman Bellendean, throwing himself into the breach, "do you hear anything now of young Forrester whom you were so good to, up at that hill-station? He went about saying everywhere that it was you who had saved his life."

"Not much," she replied, a little breathlessly. "Saying that is one thing, and keeping up a correspondence is quite another. And it was nonsense, too. I did not save his life. Perhaps I helped to give his good constitution a chance; but it was that that saved his life."

"It comes to much the same thing, I think. We used to vow all kinds of vengeance upon him, for he was the only one of us who knew you; and didn't he brag of it! I have often wished to punch his head."

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There was something in her tone and looks which cut the conversation short. Mr Bellendean turned to the lady on his other side with a little mental shrug of his shoulders: he was too polite to do it visibly, but he did not take any pains otherwise to conceal that he was not interested; indeed he was a little angry at the sudden appearance of this lady, for which he saw no justification. It was one of Margaret's impulsive actions, done without any consideration. He did not want any more insignificant women at Bellendean. There are always plenty of insignificant women about. One at least is sure to belong to everybody who is worth asking,-the wives of the pleasant fellows who relieve a party, or the mothers of the pretty girls who inspire it, - always plenty of them; and why should another be added on in cold blood?

In fact, it was a little difficult for any one to carry on the conversation after the way in which she concluded it. Norman, more kind than wise, made several attempts, in order that the new guest, who knew nobody, might not observe his father's want of assiduity. But a chill fell upon that end of the table, only partially lightened by the chuchotement of half-audible talk which was going on between the plain girl,

who was, in perfect conformity with all circumstances, an heiress bearing the name of Ratho, and the young Englishman, Essex. "My carte du pays is not sufficiently extended," he said; "I want more information. Who is this very decisive little woman? Oh yes, I know her name: and what have her husband and she to do with the girl you all talk so much of? To be sure, she is everything that is charming, I don't doubt: still she is very much in the foreground. The tableaux were good. Don't you think we might get up a little play to amuse ourselves?—it is more fun than tableaux."

"Which of these questions am I to answer first? You have forgotten about the carte du pays, and the Colonel and his wife, and- No; I don't mean to mention her name. Some one might fly at us. They can't possibly have anything to do with each other," said the young lady, decisively. "A play? I don't know. Mrs Bellendean rather likes anything that is a little fun, but none of us that I know of have ever performed. Have you?"

"I do nothing else," said Sir Harry. "I am the jeune premier, the ruined noble, the pirate, the successful merchant, the lowcomedy man, all in one. Nothing comes amiss to me. I am sorry to see that my great reputation has not penetrated so far north. Such is fame."

"Such is rather the remoteness and ignorance of the north," said Miss Ratho, with a laugh. "We see by 'Punch' that the beau monde has taken to the stage, but otherwise how could we savages among our mountains know?"

"Amidst the inaccessible fastnesses of Arthur's Seat, in the

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