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                    BOOK III.

THE Leaders had a house in Portman-square,
the chief glory of which was that it
belonged to a decayed old countess, who
had all but forced them to take it at an
exorbitant rent. The furniture was
old-fashioned and mouldy, and they had eventually
to refurnish the house; but they were
indemnified by the glory of the lesseeship.
It was amazing, indeed, what powers they
had of running away with money. They
were always in want of it, and were always
writing down to the old agent to send them
money. Mrs. Leader, in her sort of piteous,
helpless way, used to wonder at this ceaseless
want. "I am sure I don't know how
it goes! Everybody else seems to have
plenty." As though it were no fault of hers!

It certainly could not be laid to the
account of her quiet, economical husband, nor
to that of his daughter. How many schemes
had this restless parvenue woman eddying
in her head, devoured as she was by the
longing desire to get on; that is, to know
people of rank and influence, whose
intimacy, were there any recognised agency for
the purpose, she would have purchased at
some enormous sum? This special appetite
grew by what it fed on, was never satisfied,
and, indeed, never received any food at
all, saving a few scraps. Such ill success
would have damped a heart of better stuff
than she possessed. Now had come this
terrible blow of Cecil's marriage.

Sitting in the drawing-room of her town
mansion, she read in the Times the
advertisement of the ceremony carefully inserted
by the Doctor in the usual form: "To
CATHERINE, eldest daughter of PETER
FINDLATER, Esq., M.D., R.C.S.I., late of the
Banshee, Macroom, and second cousin to
the late Lieutenant Findlater, of the Twentieth
Regiment." This was repeated in
nearly every morning and evening paper of
mark; the Doctor devoting a five-pound
note to the dissemination of the great news.
He had a grim satisfaction in doing so,
thus "putting a spoke in her stuck-up
wheel," and, indeed, he had begun to hate
her cordially.

Her rage and mortification were
inconceivable as she read. It threw her into a
sort of nervous illness, to which she was
subject, and, as usual, she fell upon her
husband, his folly, and stupidity, and
uselessness. But what was her agony when
Lady Somebody came in specially to pay
her a visit, asking, "Could it be true, this
odd news in the paper? Really now; how
curious! We did not believe it when we
read it, and were sure it was a mistake.
Is he a celebrated physician?" On thorns,
Mrs. Leader had to explain the whole
humiliation. "A country-town doctor?"
said the lady of quality with horror.
"Dear me. How painful for you!" and
then took her leave coldly and abruptly.
The noble lady was giving a ball the
following week, and Mrs. Leader, who had
worked heaven and earth to get to it, and
nearly succeeded, found that this wretched
match had swamped all her chances. "That
Leader woman would be bringing some
apothecary to my ball. A dreadfully pushing
person." The day came, and Mrs.
Leader found herself left out. The loss of a
relation could not have wounded her more.
The noble lady's house was close by, and
all through the night she was kept
awake in perfect agonies by the crowding