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Simpson had made a great many lucky

"Well, now," said Cartwright, "that is
not fair on Miss Simpson. Here is the
writing of a person whom nobody present
not even myselfhas ever seen. Miss
Simpson shall try again with it, and I will
bet you all that she guesses right."

He drew a letter from his pocket, and
the young lady, after crumpling it for a
moment in her hand, said, hesitatingly,

"This is a woman's writing."

"Right!" said Cartwright.

"A married woman," said Miss Simpson,
more boldly.

"Right again. Any children?"


"Quite right. Married long, eh?"

"About three months, I think."

"Wonderful!" exclaimed Cartwright.
"It is just three months and nine days."

Mr. Ackland looked up, and looked red,
and fidgeted in his chair.

"Oh, Cartwright," cried Judge Griffin,
"that won't do. You put her leading

"Well, let her go on by herself," said

He had noticed John Ackland's
movements and was looking hard at his New
England guest. Mr. Ackland blushed
again, and turned away his face.

"But she is not happyno, not at all
happy," said Miss Simpson, musingly.

"The devil she's not!" cried
Cartwright; "but 'twas a love match, wasn't

"I think so," replied Miss Simpson,
after a pause, and doubtfully.

"My withers are unwrung," said
Cartwright, looking round. "I swear I never
saw the lady in my life."

"Does she care more for somebody else
already, ma'am, than for her husband?"
asked the judge.

"More, yes," replied Miss Simpson,
"much, no. She must be a strange
character. Not much feeling for any one, I
should say, except for herself. She jilted

"Whom?" demanded all the listeners

"I don't know. But now I fancy she
half regrets him. There is a strange feeling
about this letter."

"Pleasant for poor Mordent!"
muttered Cartwright.

John Ackland sprang to his feet. He
was not red this time, but frightfully pale,
and trembling violently.

"The letter! the letter!" he cried, and
seized the hand of Miss Simpson. The
young lady started at his touch.

"Oh, Mr. Ackland," she cried, "why
did nobody stop me? I never dreamed
that it was you." But already John
Ackland had left the room.

The next day Cartwright sought out his
guest (Mr. Ackland had not reappeared in
the drawing-room during the rest of that
evening), and expressed his regret for the
painful incident of the preceding night.

"I had no idea you were even
acquainted with Mrs. Mordent," he said.

"But how do you happen to be
acquainted with her?" asked John Ackland.

"Strictly speaking," he said, "I am
not acquainted with her. Mordent and
I were schoolfellows at West Point.
He wrote to me some time ago informing
me of his engagement to Miss Stevens;
and, as I anticipated being absent from
Virginia about that time, I wanted him
and his bride to pass their honeymoon at
Glenoak. I also asked him to send me a
portrait of the future Mrs. M. I have
portraits of all my friends' wives. A fancy
of mine. He declined the invitation, but
sent me the portrait, accompanied by a
pretty little line from the lady herself.
That is what I placed in Miss Simpson's
hands last night; and I assure you that is
all I know of Mrs. Mordent."

John Ackland's impatience to leave
Glenoak was now, however, excessive.
"Every time," he said to himself, "that I
must face again the people in this house is
intolerable pain to me."

Cartwright suggested to him that if
resolved on so hasty a departure, he need
not return to Richmond. "By going
across country," he said, "you will save
a long day's journey, and catch the
Charleston coach at a point which is nearer
here than Richmond. I can send your
luggage on by the cart, this morning, and lend
you a horse to ride there this afternoon.
We will dine early, and if you start from
here on horseback at four o'clock, you will
be at your destination before nightfall, and
a good hour before the coach is due there.
I will be your guide across the plantation,
and put you on your road, which you cannot
possibly miss. I would gladly accompany
you the whole way thither, if I had not
some business with my overseer which must
be settled to-night. You can leave the horse
at your destination with the ostler there.
I know him, and can trust him to bring it
back safely to Glenoak. What say you?"