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AFTER Lady Humphrey had sent away her
messenger, she found it very warm in her
solitary drawing-room. The air seemed thick
and feverish with the atmosphere of her own
thoughts. She put aside the curtains from her
window with her two hands, threw open the
sash and looked out upon the grey twilight,
creeping mistily over the dripping, silent, satisfied
world. And then she began to walk slowly
up and down the room, getting so dark that
she could just see the path that she marked out
for herself, up to a grimly beautiful little statue
of Nemesis, on its pedestal in the farthest
corner, and back again; there and back again.
The cool rain was blowing in, and there was
not a sound to disturb, but the dabbling of
the drops among the little pools upon the
window-sill. So Lady Humphrey, having taken
her first step towards a cherished end, delivered
herself up to an hour's reflection. It was
not so much that she was taken possession
of by thoughts, at the first, as that she set
herself determinedly to think some matters

Her face, as it moved through the shadows,
with its grey hue, its knitted brows, and hard-
set mouth, might have matched with some of
those other faces of bygone plotters and spoilers
of the peace of the innocent, which were hanging
up on high walls, only the breadth of a few
chambers removed from her, fixed for ever under
the gaze of all time, with the story of their
secret misdeeds written in the open daylight
on their brows. But there was no observant
dreamer presentno Hester, with straight open
eyes, to take notes, and draw comparisons; and
the statue of Nemesis looked on to its own goal,
and knew nothing about the matter; and the
rain was busy gossipping to the window-sill;
and Lady Humphrey's thoughts were as far
from the subject of the musty legends and faded
pictures of foolish people who were found out,
as any lover of fresh air and fair dealing could

Lady Humphrey's thoughts surrounded her
with brilliant scenes, as sweet and peaceful, as
fresh and wholesome, as ever memory undertook
to furnish. Mountains lying in an atmosphere
of summer light, serene and magnificent; crags
covered with heather; mighty ravines with
the clouds dipping into them, and the slight
ash lifting its tasseled head to meet the sky,
and shaking its scarlet berries against the
blue. A stream, perpetually descending, swift
and flashing, like a sword dividing two
hills, falling into the valley with foam and
thunder, slackening, flowing, smooth, silvery,
musical, taking all sweet things with it to
the sea; children's voices, lilies, sedges,
echoes of the blessings that arise from and
return upon the valley homesteads, like the
pigeons that soar from and alight upon the

For there is also a bay of the sea in Lady
Humphrey's picture, with a village sitting at
its feet, and the brown sails of fishing craft
floating to and fro in its harbour; and there is
a castle, away up hillwards, half mossed over,
and ivied up to its chimneys, with nestling
there for so many centuries in its hollow among
the mountains. In this castle there are
venerable chambers, and ancient household gods.
And there is plenty of life about, faces coming
and going, in the light and in the shade; and
there is a great peace and dignity about the

It is many a day since Lady Humphrey has
seen this castle, and the date of her intimate
acquaintance with it is thirty years back. So
it is not to be expected that the faces which
her memory beholds set in its atmosphere
should bear the same features, or at least wear
the same look, as those which at this actual
moment inhabit it. The old may be expected
to have passed away, and the young to have
grown old. No one can know this better than
Lady Humphrey, with those thirty years of life
lying behind her, and yet they are the faces of
thirty years ago that she sees with her mental
vision. One is the face of an elderly woman,
proud, keen, benevolent, and, albeit a good
face, and one long since vanished from the
earth, it is hateful, and lifelike, and
present to Lady Humphrey at this moment.
Then there are the faces of two girls: one,
with pale satin-like braided hair, and severely
handsome features, is surely the very image
of Lady Humphrey in her youth. She looks