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very lovely, Mrs. Vining had founil an opportunity to whisperher strong disapproval of this beauty-unadomed whiin of Floy's into Jugusta's ear,

She had known little or nothing of Colonel Crofton before; for his offer to Augusta hau been a sudden thing, and he had never been a visitor at their house during her father's lifetime. But now, on this night, whether it was through some few but well-chosen and judicious sentences of praise about Miss Clifford, or because he seemed to know a great deal about Gerald, and could tell her what a favourite he was in his corps--now, after talking with him through the music for some three-quarters of an hour, Florence seemnet to know him very well and like him very much. He was acknowledged to be a great critic in matters dramatic and musical, too; and here he was agreeing with her view of things, and complimenting her delicately, in a veiled, irresistible way, upon her true and cultivated taste.

Florence Knightly's heart beat quicker when she heard him tell her sister, while an undercurrent of mournful, manly frankness ran through his tones, that he should do himself the pleasure of calling at - Piccadilly, and renewing the acquaintance which had, so unhappily for him, been interrupted. Almost for the first time in her life Floy felt angry with Gussie, for the latter acquiesced in the proposel scheme of the colonel's with what appeared to Florence repulsive coldness.

Georgie Clifford would be rather late in the field with that warning she was going to give Rupert about Colonel Crofton the next day.

Others had talked through the music, too. Sir Francis Tollemache had found time to let Augusta know that he was tired of this sort of thing, and should wake her mother up to-morrow, and Augusta had entreated him not to ask: · Wretched as it will be, Frank,' said she, “if things are all wrong, it will be well for you not to trouble yourself by asking for what may be refused, after all.' And though Frank Tollemache repeated that he should make the attempt to-morrow, he bit the

enils of his tawny inoustache with mortification, for Sir Francis Tollemache, rich in ancestry and honour and singleness of heart, was but a poor baronet; and he kuew, better than any one could tell him, that he coull not marry unless Gussie had her fortune. After this disturbing of the embers of his grievance, the strains of some of the sweetest singers in the world fell harshly on his ears; and standing behind her chair, looking down on the wellloved, beautiful, gracefu head of the lady that should have been his bride, his mind began to be filled with some rather uncharitable and unchristian thoughts concerning that lady's father and mother.

Men of that age are invariably more agreeable than younger ones, thought Floy, as the pressure of his hand in farewell was still warm on hers, and the tones of his “good night; I purpose honouring myself by calling upon you to-morrow, Miss knightly, were still ringing in her ears. What a mind he has, and what a voice! and though she mentioned the mind of the gallant colonel first, even to herself, yet it was of the quality of the latter that she thought most.

« That youngest Miss Knightly is handsomer even than her sister, Crofton,' said a man who joined him immediately after he had taken leave of Mrs. Vining and her party. “There was nothing else so lovely in the house to-night-she's lengths a-head of everyone else.'

'I object to turfy comparisons, Stanley; I think I have told you so before,' answered Colonel Crofton;

for the rest, I think it very absurd of Miss Knightly to play the “Woman in White" to crowded and fashionable audiences.'

It suits her style,' said the other, laughing.

And a very bad style it is that descends to stage tricks to produce effects. Handsomer than her sister? Augusta is sublime.'

· And Florence ?' interrupted Stanley.

‘Ridiculous; good night.'

Surely Georgie would have felt satisfied that he did not contemplate winning the hand and heart of

Rupert's sister, could she have heard weak as her youngest daughter, that speech.

indeed, Miss Gussie will repent of For many hours after Florence the scornful glances she gave me so had pressed the pillow that night, freely to-night.' she remained awake thinking over Two years before, Colonel Crofton every word, recalling every look, had really fallen desperately in love, tone, and gesture of the man who really and truly, with Augusta had stood by her side during those Knightly. Her proud beauty had too quickly fleeting hours. They made the keen man of the world seemed a great deal to her; but lose his head for the first time. He they were in reality trifling enough would have lost anything to win in matter. Colonel Crofton was not her; and he had failed. From the at all the kind of man to give the day her answer fell cold and clear reins to his tongue and let it carry upon his ear and heart—and she him on to dangerous ground. He was not a soft, tender woman to the had told her one or two short anec generality of men-he had deterdotes relating to one or two of the mined that she should be made to vocalists whose strains were ravish- suffer for it. He would have won ing their ears at that present time, her brother's plighted bride from and whom he had known at Malta him, and then jilted her, to hurt he said-a circumstance which di- and wound Augusta Knightly. But rectly caused them to assume a new now, now there was a brighter openand far greater interest in Floy's ing. Her own mother's hand, guided heart, than their glorious talent had by him, should deal a blow that she procured for them before. And he should wince under; and Florence, had hinted disparagement at the her beautiful sister, should be made taste of those who in vivid colours the means of throwing dust in their and gorgeous array surrounded them. eyes, until everything was settled Floy made up her mind on the spot and he could unmask his battery. to wear 'white muslin and nothing The road was fair and clear before on it,' through all time. And he him; it would be easy to travel had declared himself to be getting along it; and with this soothing an old and uncared-for man, who, and comforting reflection, Colonel when he dropped from his humble Crofton fell calmly asleep, while niche into the grave, would do so Florence, with open eyes and glowunregretted and unmissed ; and this ing'cheeks, dreamt of a nature grand had nearly brought the tears into and lofty, of a heart purified and Floy's eyes, as he observed to his ennobled by some past sorrow, of a intense amusement. He had made wound which she might heal. some little remarks about Tolle- I hope they will all like him. I mache too, in a tolerant sort of way, hope mamma, above all, will like and glanced at him with what seemed him, was one of her last thoughts. to Floy hardly suppressed contempt. Poor dear Floy, said Augusta to She had always been very fond of herself that night, that man is very Frank before, and done full justice much mistaken if he thinks to win to the open, noble nature of her her. Oh dear! I wonder what future brother-in-law; but after this mamma will say to Frank to-morspeech, and the look down from row. those grand heights, she found that she herself did not think Frank quite

CHAPTER V. good enough for Gussie.

And what did Colonel Crofton 'WHAT WONDER IF HE THINKS ME FAIR.' think, when he pressed his downy Mrs. Knightly sat alone in her couch? Was he full of love and drawing-room; and how it was that reverence for the pure young nature she came to be alone, shall be exwhich had been so ready to believe plained hereafter. She sat alone in in him ? May be so: but the one what was beginning to seem like sentence he muttered before he fell wearisome solitude; and the summer asleep did not look like it. If the wind laden with the breath of mother's as weak as I've heard, as flowers-mixed with the odours of

Rimmel's patent vaporiser-sighed past her unheeded. For the fair widow was plunged deep in thought -or what stood her in lieu of itbulling castles in the air.

She had come to the business and cares and pleasures of the lay in rather an agerieved frame of mind. For her daughters, in talking over the events of the previous night, though they had dutifully regretted she could not share such delights with them, had done so in a manner that proved that the impossii ility of the thing was more vividly beiɔre their minds than the melancholiness of it. Mrs. Knightly was not at all the sort of woman calmly to contemplate the idea of being shelved; and she had not been sorry when her dear children withdrew, and she could uninterruptedly cherish her woes within her own breast.

Mrs. Knightly had put on a grey silk this day; a grey silk with some frills and falls of lace about it, in place of the too suggestive crape. And on her head, instead of the plain, simple widow's car, which her children would have loved to see her wear, she had an arrange ment of cloudy tulle and lace, which blended inost becomingly with her dusky, soft, brown hair, and delicate complexion. A mild-eyed, kindly, pretty woman she looked-and was -on this fine summer morning, when Colonel Crofton was ushered into her presence.

Now before I go any further, I must devote a few lines to Colonel Crofton, lest injustice should be done him. He is not to be the villain and worthless character of my story, without an end or aim He was a man who had a slight predilection for doing the right thing, if it did not cost him anything; but he would say, ' Farewell, for a time, to honour,' if the doing so would add anything very considerable to his yearly income. If doing Augusta Knightly a good and friendly turn would have made him master of thirty thousand a year, he would have waived the righteous wrath he had lavished upon her for two years, and have done her that turn and given her his blessing in addition. But as it

was, he saw his way to gaining something like that sum tirough doing Augusta Knightly the reverse of a kind and friendly turn. He was getting too old to be sentimental, he said to himself, therefore he should take that way.

Mrs. Knightly knew nothing of Colonel Crotton as the rejected sutor for her eldest daughter's band. Augusta kept such things to herself,—to herself and her brother Rupert, who had of course told Georgie. But she knew he was a rather intimate friend of the l'inings, and a man who had a very good standing in society; and though she had only seen him three or four times previous to her widowhool, something in his manner, as he entered the room and bowed over her hand, impressed her with the idea that she was receiving rather an old friend than otherwise.

My daughters are out riding, she explained, in answer to his inquiry as to his companions of the night before. • Gerald, that's my youngest son, came up and pro suaded them to go out, rather against Florence's will, I think, for she does not seem very well this morning; she was rather late, you know, last night-late, at least, considering what a quiet year we've all had.' Mrs. Knightly looked pathetically pensive, and Colonel Crofton called up a fellow expression immediately, though he was mentally smiling in perfect appreciation of Miss Florence Knightly's unwillingness to ride

'Is Knightly up to-lay?' he asked, after a moment. What a fine fellow he is, Mrs. Knightly; I never met with a more popular man in a corps than Gerald is in his,'

· He is a fine, handsome bor, and a dear good boy too,' replied tho flattered mother; he's very much like what his poor dear father was at his age.'

Colonel Crofton did not desire the lady to grow retrospective, espea cially about Gerald's poor dear father; so he twirled a paper-knife round and said nothing.

"You'll find a likeness of Gerald

likenesses of all my children, in fact-in that album, Colonel Crofton; there's one of me, too,' she continued,

blushing freshly, but it was taken before the time of my sad trial; you won't see any likeness now probably. I've altered very much.'

Yes, Colonel Crofton thought to himself, the old lady looks a few degrees more lively now than when this was taken, but he said

• These things never do justice to ladies, Mrs. Knightly; this is very pleasing, very pretty, but still;— well, at the risk of your feeling offended at the disparagement of your photographer, I must repeat it,-it does not do you justice.

“So my sons tell me, foolish boys; that one you're looking at now is my eldest daughter; a good one, isn't it?'

* Yes,' Colonel Crofton said, 'a very good one.' If she had been watching his face, she would have seen that it had grown a little paler. It was a double album, and on the opposite page to Augusta there was a likeness of Sir Francis Tollemache.

“And that's Miss Clifford,' she continued, as he turned a leaf or


I wish you were married to him, and off out of the way for a few weeks,' he thought, as he looked at the face which retained its bright, fearless frankness even in a photograph.

Your son is a lucky man, Mrs. Knightly, unless report errs; this Miss Clifford, for whom I, in common with most people, have a very profound admiration and respect, will soon stand in a somewhat nearer relation to you than she does at present.'

Mrs. Knightly liked Georgie very much as soon as Colonel Crofton praised her.

'Yes, I hope so; a dear girl she is, and so attached to Rupert. I have serious thoughts of giving them Warmingston. It was the first time the idea of making such an alarming sacrifice had entered into her head; but she thought it would look well to show Colonel Crofton that she was as fully alive to the merits of her son's future wife as most people were.

' And this is Tollemache, surely,' said Colonel Crofton, speaking very last, and turning back to the objec


tionable page; 'poor Tollemache! I pity that fellow; poverty is bad enough; but poverty and a baronetcy together must be a little too much."

'Do you mean our TollemacheSir Francis Tollemache, Colonel ?' asked Mrs. Knightly, eagerly.

The same; he's unfortunately gone a little fast with that property of his. I heard a year or so ago that he was going to right himself by making a wealthy marriage.'

Mrs. Knightly immediately conjured up a horribly vivid picture of her beloved Augusta in a garret, with three or four ragged children about her, and all her money gone.

'Why, he's engaged to my eldest daughter!' she exclaimed at last.

"Then let my most unfortunate communication be forgotten, madam; let me intreat you not to think more of what I, in my utter ignorance of existing circumstances, have unguardedly said.'

Not think about it? Indeed I shall think, and speak about it too, Colonel.'

"There's no help for you; you must be frightened into circumspection,' thought Colonel Crofton. So after looking darkly at one mossrose bud in the carpet for a time, he raised his eyes, fraught with severity, to her face, and said

I need not impress upon you, Mrs. Knightly, the absolute necessity there is that my name should not be mixed up in this matter in your communications to your daughter. Should it be so, I can only tell you the results will be probably most awful, most painful for you to contemplate; but I need not tell you this ---That, said he to himself, has sent her off, thinking of pistols and coffee, and will keep her quiet.

'I must speak to my child, Colonel,' commenced the harassed lady.

By all means; but you need not mention me; it would at once put a stop to that friendly intercourse which Mrs. Knightly has inspired me with a wish to create between us.'

"Well, I won't, Colonel; and I'm sure you are very polite and kind to say so. But she shall not marry



him. As a report, I 01:12 pot be li's home and wilt of moru ju-tifiedl. a di rty has its rinn,

She's a terrible fool this WOTE, Colonel (roofton hul nerer suf- thought the colonel :') have b !) fered from the cares which property hereling though for one; and not brought with it; but he agreert II byes off to the Park, and join with her nevertheless-agrel, that Jurusta' is, with as much of her disjointeil · lle's one of the nicest, best-inspeech as he understood. He even forma men I ever met with,' solilowent so far as to say that he was quisers, Knightly, as she listenel convinced she was one who would to the echo of the tirin military nobly fulfil all the clutie's property strides. "He's right about that brought with it.

photograph; I'll have another taken. But they are very, very onerous, And about Gussie's, too. Oh, dear, Colonel. Vany, many a time have dear! what troubles mothers have!' I been tempted to give everything George Clifford did not think to Rupert. I shoulıl have done so, about Colonel Crofton until Rupert dear fellow, if I had only had my and herself had taken a turn or two own feelings to consult; but there up and down the Row, when catchis Mr. Knightly's last wish to be ing sight of the Misses Knightly at thought of, and his wish was ever some little distance, riding with law to me,

their youngest brother, she elThis was a gratifying sentiment claimed from the lips of a woman who had “Look! there's Gerald and the mcekly thwarted the most devoted girls; let iis join them, Rupert. of husbands in every little scheme Oh! but wait first. I have somehe had ventured to originate, with thing to tell you.' And then she admirable perseverance, for six or told him of that conversation she seven-and-twenty years.

had held with Colonel Crofton, a And most properly so, Mrs. night or two before, at Mrs. VinKnightly; it does you the greatest ing's. honour.'

Rupert had felt rather indifferent Mrs. Knightly began to look upon about whether Colonel Crofton marherself as a woman of a very grand riel his sister or not, as he lookei and exalted character.

upon him as a very good sort of Those dear children have all the fellow, until he learned that he has pleasure of it, as is right, and I tried to win Georgie from him. The have the worry,' continued the knowledge of that fact altered his blooming martyr. My lawyer views, and caused him to think that has been with me this morning; it would be very wrong and reprethere is always something to be hensible indeed of him to allow Floy done, and thought about. It's quite to have anything to say to Crofton, fatigued me, but I never shrink from if he could help it. By the time my duties-never.'

Georgie and himself had finished Her duties this morning had not discussing the subject, and put their been of such an arduous nature as horses into a canter to join the her speech would have led one to others, the group had received an suppose. Her lawyer, a sensible addition in the person of Frank old gentleman, who despised the Tollemache. Augusta Knightly was widow of his friend and former a very proud woman; but she was client as much as he disliked his prouder for the man she had given will, had been with her for four her love to than for herself. In minutes and a half. He had rapidly thinking over the determination read once ten lines, which she could Frank had come to the night before, not comprehend, and did not at- she had decided that she would not tempt to, and asked her to sign it, allow him to run the risk of being which she had done, marvelling the humbled by a refusal. She would while whether he was struck with herself ask her mother to do her the the beauty of her hand, the white- simple justice of giving her without ness of which was well set off by the further delay the fortune her father

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