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when the mention of that name would have
sent the blood flowing to his cheek, and
his heart thumping audibly, and now here
he was staying in the old house where all
the love scenes had taken place, walking
round the garden where all the soft words
had been spoken, all the vows made which
she had thrown to the winds, when the last
parting, with what he then, and for so long
afterwards, thought its never-to-be-forgotten
agony had occurred, and he had not felt
one single extra palpitation. Mrs. Creswell
was staying away from Woolgreaves just
then, at some inland watering-place; for the
benefit of her health, which it was said had
suffered somewhat from her constant
attendance on her husband, or Joyce might
have met her. Such a meeting would not
have caused him an emotion. When he
had encountered her in the lane, during the
canvassing time, there was yet lingering
within his breast a remembrance of the
great wrong she had done him, and that
was fanned into additional fury by the
nature of her request and the insolence
with which she made it. But all those
feelings had died out now, and were he
then, he thought, to come across Marian
Creswell's path, she would be to him as the
merest stranger, and no more.

If he were to marry, he knew of no one
more likely to suit him in all ways than
Maud. Pretty to look at, clever to talk to,
sufficiently accustomed to him and his ways
of life, she would make him a far better
wife than nine-tenths of the young ladies
he was accustomed to meet in such little
society as he could spare the time to cul-
tivate. Why should he marry at all? He
answered the question almost as soon as
he asked it. His life wanted brightening,
wanted refining, was at present too narrow
and confined; all his hopes, thoughts,
and aspirations were centred on himself.
He was all wrong. There should be some
one whothe chambers were confoundedly
dreary too, when he came home to them
from the office or the House; he should
travel when the House rose, somewhere
abroad, he thought, and it would be dull
work moving about by himself, and ——

What pretty, earnest eyes Maud had, and
shining hair, and delicate "bred" looking
hands! She certainly was wonderfully
nice, and if, as Benthall avowed, she really
cared for him, hewho was this coming to
break in on his pleasant day-dream? Oh,

"I was wondering where you were,
Mr. Joyce! You said you wanted your
holiday, and you seem to be passing it in
slumber I"

"Nothing so commonplace, Mrs.

"One moment, why do you call me Mrs.
Benthall? What has made you so formal
and ridiculous all of a sudden? You used
to call me Gertrude, in London?"

"Yes, but then you were an unmarried
girl, now you are a wedded woman, and
there's a certain amount of respect due to

"What nonsense! Do call me Gertrude
again, please, Mrs. Benthall sounds
so horrid! I should like the boarders here
in the house to call me Gertrude, only
George says it wouldn't be proper! And
so you weren't asleep?"

"Not the least bit! Although I'm ready
to allow I was dreaming."

"Dreaming! what about?"

"About the old days which I spent in
this placeand their association!"

"Oh yes, I knowI mean to say ——"

"No, no, Gertrude, say what you had on
your lips then! No prevarication and
no hesitation; what was it?"

"No, really, nothingit is only ——"

"I insist!"

"Well, what I mean to say is, of course
people will talk in a village, you know,
and we've heard about your engagement,
you know, and how it was broken off, and
how badly you were treated, and  —— Oh,
how silly I was to say a word about it!
I'm sure George would be horribly cross if
he knew!"

"And did you imagine I was grizzling
over my past, cursing the day when I first
saw the faithless fair, and indulging in
other poetic rhapsodies! My dear Gertrude,
it's not a pleasant thing being jilted,
but one lives to get over it and forget all
about it; even to forgive her whom I
believe it is correct to call the false one!"

"Yes, I dare say! In fact George and
Maud both said you didn't think anything
about it now, and ——"

"Maud! did she know of it too?"

"Oh yes, we all knew of it! The old
woman who had been housekeeper, or
cook, or something here in the old Ashursts'
time told George, and ——"

"What did Maud say about it?"
interrupted Joyce.

"She saidI forget what! No! I
recollect! she said that  — that Mrs. Creswell
was just the sort of woman that would fail
to appreciate you!"

"That may be taken in two senses, as