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THE fact that his nieces had actually left
the shelter of his roof, although, as he had
hitherto believed, that result had been
brought about by their own wilfulness and
impatience of control, came upon
Mr. Creswell with almost stunning force. True,
Marian had mentioned to him that it was
impossible that she and the girls could ever
live together in amitytrue, that he
himself had on more than one occasion been
witness of painful scenes between them
true, that the girls' departure had been
talked of for a week past as an expected
event, and that the preparations for it
lay before his eyes; but he had not realised
the fact; his mind was so taken up with
the excitement of the coming election
contest, that he had scarcely noticed
the luggage through which he had
occasionally to thread his way, or, if he had
noticed it, had regarded its presence there
as merely a piece of self-assertion on the
part of impetuous Maud or silly Gertrude,
determined to show, foolish children as
they were, that they were not to be put
down by Marian's threats, but were ready
to start independently whenever such a
step might become necessary. That Marian
would ever allow them to take this step,
Mr. Creswell never imagined; he thought
there had always been smouldering embers
of warfare, needing but a touch to burst
into a blaze, between his wife and his
nieces; he knew that they had never "hit
it," as he phrased it; but his opinion of
Marian was so high, and his trust in her
so great, that he could not believe she
would be sufficiently affected by these
"women's tiffs" as to visit them with such
disproportionate punishment. Even in the
moment of adieu, when Gertrude, making
no attempt to hide her tears, had sobbingly
kissed him and clung about his neck, and
Maud, less demonstrative, but not less
affectionate, had prayed God bless him in a
broken voiceshe passed Mrs. Creswell
with a grave bow, taking no notice of
Marian's extended handthe old man could
scarcely comprehend what was taking place,
but looked across to his wife, hoping she
would relent, and with a few affectionate
words wish the girls a pleasant visit to
London, but bid them come back soon to
their home.

But Marian never moved a muscle,
standing there, calm and statuesque, until
the door had closed upon them and the
carriage had rolled away; and then the
first sound that issued from her lips was a
sigh of relief that, so far, her determination
had been fulfilled without much overt
opposition, and without any "scene." Not that
she was by any means satisfied with what
she had done; she had accomplished so
much of her purpose as consisted in
removing the girls from their uncle's home,
but instead of their being reduced in social
position therebywhich, judging other
people, as she always did, by her own
standard, she imagined would be the greatest
evil she could inflict upon themshe found
her plans had been attended with an
exactly opposite result. The entrance into
society, which she had so long coveted, and
which she had hoped to gain by her
husband's election, not merely now seemed
dim and remote, owing to the strong
possibility of Mr. Creswell's failure, but would
now be open to Maud and Gertrude,
through the introduction of this Lady