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WITH such an energetic worker as Mrs.
Leader, with no one outside her own
domestic circle to oppose her, the cause she
had in hand was likely to make speedy
progress. Perhaps the hearty co-operation
of Lady Seaman did as much for her. The
young lord himself was attracted by Mary
Leader's quiet, cosey manner, and she rather
took, as the saying is, to his boyish and
natural ways. It was some time before
the scheme, of which she was to be the
instrument, flashed upon her; being, like
her father, so quiet and simple, she had no
suspicion that she could be thought worth
being made the subject of any machination.
It appeared to her that all this was but one
incident in Mrs. Leader's grand scheme of
getting on in society, and that the laborious
arts and enormous expenditure had
borne exceptional fruit. In this fashion
the days and weeks went by, and the plot
was gradually matured under the happiest
auspices. Mrs. Leader was quite beside
herself with delight and exultation at this
exceptional success; she found the narrow
gates of fashion unexpectedly widened for
her, and, according to the usual delusion,
fancied that this progress was all owing to
her own exertions. Lady Seaman, who
called herself plain spoken, but was, in
reality, a coarse woman, entered on the
affair quite as a matter of business, determined
to have her pound of flesh handsomely
weighed out to her before the matter
should be concluded. Yet she wanted
her usual penetration: for she had such a
contempt for " that little apology for a
man," Mr. Leader, that she never dreamed
for a moment that he could be an obstruction
in the way of any plans. She left him
out of the question altogether; and if she
did consider him, would have looked on him
as she had looked long ago on her own Lord
Seaman. However, as the time was running
by, and Mrs. Leader, in her nervous,
undecided way, was saying, that " really
Mr. Leader was so absurd, making difficulties,
and all that, with a foolish, ridiculous
indulgence for his son, who had
treated him so badly," she determined to
take him in hand herself."

Sit down here beside me for a few moments,"
she said, at the next party. " I
want to talk to you. Now, I hear you are
in the hands of the lawyers, going to resettle
this estate. Grand opportunity. I
remember then my poor Seaman did the
same thing, joined his father, we had quite
a gala of it. Money was running on all
sides, and we all came in for our share.
You ought to have your estate in your own
hands, when your son has behaved so
scandalouslyreally as a warning to others."

In the hands of this skilled lady, poor
Mr. Leader was as a heron in the talons of
a hawkthe attack was so bold and over-
powering, and kept up so long. He could
only smile feebly, and utter those platitudes
which a weak man in the hands of a coarse,
bold woman finds his sole protection. It
was then, also, that she hinted to him the
plan that was in hand.

"I can't tell what is come over my son
Seaman of late. He goes mooning about.
I believe him to be in love, and, my dear
Mr. Leader, you and I could very well guess
the person."

Mr. Leader smiled weakly, but really
could make no guess. He was immensely
astonished when the truth was conveyed
to him, and laughed with timorous incredulity.