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Miss MANUEL had returned. She had been at
Torquay, or at St. Leonard's, or at some of those
sheltered winter corners where invalids go to
find colour and strength. This her world supposed;
her court of writers and " clergymanical"
reviewers, all knew this; and when they made
their congratulations on her return, never
suspected that her fresh brilliancy was owing to the
keen breezes of the little dun town so far away.
She returned with all the enthusiasm of triumph.

Almost on the day of her arrival she met Major
Carter. He had heard of her visit. He had
fallen in with Fermor, who, in a pettish way, had
told of her sudden departure. "She is gone,
God knows where, and has told nobody." Which
speech disturbed the major not a little. Now, as
she passed him to enter a shop, there was a
look of insolent victory in her face, which made
him yet more uneasy, and sent him home
thoughtful. If he had only watched her
carefully for the rest of the day, he would not have
slept that night.

For early that morning Mr. Speedy had
received a fairy-looking note at his Irrefragable
office, and was almost intoxicated at finding in
it a request that he would, after office hours,
wait on Miss Manuel at her house. From
that day he became generally superior to homely
Mrs. Speedy. The note was long preserved in
the Speedy archives, and it lay for many a day
on the top of the other notes in the little basket.
Major Carter was not passing, or he would have
seen Mr. Speedy with a new pair of gloves going
in, and Major Carter was not Asmodeus Carter,
or he would have frantically torn away the
front of that house, of all houses in London,
to see and hear Miss Manuel and the man of
business sitting close, and talking with
extraordinary eagerness. Major Carter did not watch
the terminus at Euston-square for the night-train
to start, or he would have seen a muffled Mr.
Speedy drive up and take a ticket for Bangor,
on " special mission," as it was said at the office,
where he was missed next day. On this " special
mission," sent by order of the directors, he was
away more than a week. Thus over the head of
unsuspecting Major Carter was already hanging a
spectral sword of Damocles, and as it swung
and shook, he felt himself brought within its cold
shadow, and shivered ; but the world was going
so pleasantly with him, that he shook off all
disagreeable thoughts for the present. .

Mrs. Fermor, full of enthusiasm and young
affection, had soon shut out the memory of what
she had heard during her night-watch, and came
eagerly to welcome her friend back again. She
had worked herself into a sort of romantic love
for this friend; and though she felt again, when
ascending the stairs, something of her old
recollections, when she entered and saw Miss Manuel
sitting nearly as " bright" as ever, she forgot it, and
ran forward to embrace her with real affection.

"I am so glad, so delighted, to see you down
again," she said, with a sort of punctuation, as
it were, of kissing.

Pauline tried to be cold, but her resolution
gave way before the genuine delight of this
faithful little woman. Then she turned from
her suddenly and sharply, and she called herself
(mentally) " She-Judas!"

"I am so glad!" said Mrs. Fermor. "I
never discovered until you were ill how much
I liked you. I don't know why; we have
known each other for so short a time; and I dare
say," she added, a little ruefully, for she again
thought of what she had heard during the
night-watching, " you do not care so much for me?"
And she looked at her wistfully.

"Why should you think that?" said Pauline.
"You know I like you, and indeed I feel grateful
for all you have done for me. I only learnt
today how you nursed and watched me. And it
has distressed me more than you would suppose.
I wanted nobody," and she added, a little
vehemently, " and younot for the world. You might
have caught it. But I am indeed grateful." And
again she turned sharply, and called herself
Judas. " I never thank," she went on earnestly.
"They tell me I am cold, and do not feel
obligations. So that you will understand, if I should
ever appear not to value what you have done as it
deserves to be valued, you will set it down to the
right cause. Don't judge me too harshly; there
may be more behind than you know of. We may
not all have our free will."

Deeply mystified at the beseeching manner
with which this was said, Mrs. Fermor knew not