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"Just what I thought," said the other, greatly
relieved. "And living as they do so
handsomelyin the first style——"

"Yes. Look at the way they entertain
usanother of the little dinners to-morrow.
Charmingly done. I have dined, sir, with
some of the merchant princes at Liverpool,
when our bigwigs were down there, and
they did not come near it. Mr. West is a
little too fond of busying himself about other
people's affairs. It is unworthy and shabby,
sir. If I were called on to advise, I should
say that an action for damages would lie. But
there is a reasonevery reason, sirnot on
the pleadings at present."

Quite satisfied, the squire went his way.
Mr. Dacres, for all his pleasant qualities,
had "a bitter drop" in him, and adopted a
curious sneering tone towards Mr. West.
Perhaps his own acuteness told him the true
state of the case as to Lucy's behaviour, and
he thought this was the best way of taking it.
He was also, no doubt, enjoying the friendship
of Vivian on the same profitable terms
he had done West's generosityor, at least,
this was charitably given out. Some such little
tax was always to be paid for the pleasure
of Mr. Dacres's intimacy. He soon told
his own family, as well as Vivian, who was
present, of what he called "West's underhand
stab," which was unworthy and unhandsome,
and he was afraid could be only too readily
explained.

The scorn with which Lucy endorsed this
view trembled on her lip, and flashed in her eye.
"Yes, papa, I can explain it. He finds his
enmity to be powerless, and now he thinks
to reach me through my friends. I did not
think he would stoop so low. Such a poor
vulgar story! A bit of gossip from London.
There may be fifty Beaufort families. They told
Mr. Wilkinson they had relations all over the
kingdom."

Vivian smiled. "You are a most enthusiastic
champion of those people. We must all admit
their perfection. Still, I don't quite believe in
them."

"Ah, there is an honourable open hostility!
How different that is to stabbing in the
dark! It is unworthy, unmanly," she said,
with a defiant look and toss of her head,
"and I shall take care to show him that his
secret insinuations have no effect on my
friendship."

"I say, Vivian," said Dacres, with a wink,
"isn't that like Miss O'Neil in the play?
Wouldn't Lulu draw at the Fran├žais? She'd
be worth a hundred francs a night, sir, at the
least."

How strange this change and hostility to
Gilbert West! Yet Lucy did not dislike him;
nay, at times, pitied and liked him; but these
sudden impulses were part of her character.
They bore her away with them. Every
one, therefore, remarked the renewed and
all but exaggerated intimacy between Lulu
and her slandered friends. Every one, too,
saw her stop before Mr. West on the port,
with Mrs. Wilkinson beside her, and say to
him with a haughty lookand "Captain Filby
heard her say it—"Now, Mr. West, you see
what effect your message has had upon me.
I congratulate you on your new arts." Then
Mr. Ernest Beaufort came up, and with him
she walked away ostentatiously. Everybody
knew how that "moody West" had tried to
invent a clumsy story about the Beaufortsa
shocking instance of impotent spiteand was
full of Mr. Guernsey Beaufort's capital way of
taking it. So good tempered and
gentlemanly:

"My dear ma'am, I shan't take the least
notice of it. It is beneath me. In town there
is a story about every one, once a week. Only
better not tell Ernest, who is a little hot in his
temper." And there was infinite art to be
used, and chiefly by Miss Lulu's cleverness and
tact, that young Beaufort was to be kept from
hearing the slander.

Yet West, whose life now was working in
a round of this morbid struggle, said to
himself, "She shall not put me down in that way.
I will live to open her eyes;" and wrote off to
his legal friend in England a feverish letter,
imploring him to work the thing out and
find the truth, and let him know. After that,
let him come over and bring proofs; he would
pay allany expense.

"Poor West," said the legal friend, reading,
"what has come over him? He's quite
excited."

CHAPTER XXI. "ON HIS MAJESTY'S SERVICE."

THE entire colony wondered at the eagerness
with which West began to mix in what he had
once called the foolish shows of the place, being
now most anxious never to miss the Corso,
or the packet coming in, or the little parties in
the small rooms of the place; any scene, in
short, where he might have a chance of seeing
the pair whose movements were now his
life.

One night Vivian had come across the
street, to spend one of those evenings which
were so delightful for Lucy. Indeed, this
school-girl had now found herself set free
in a new and charming domain, a delicious
garden abounding in the rarest scents of
flowers, and could not restrain her joy and
sense of happiness. She did not look back
to the past, as one older would have done;
she had not yet learned the value of the
little excuses and pretences common in life,
and she accepted with complete faith the
arrangement proposed by Gilbert West. Had
he not proposed to leave it all to her? She was
to take time to know her own mind, and all
that. She knew it nowoh, how splendidly!
In the very young there is always a little of
this cruel selfishness, or thoughtlessness. Her
father not unadroitly aided this viewas he did
on this night.

"Poor West! he glares at me when I meet