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"I know Lady Humphrey," said Sir Archie,
"I have met her and ber son in London. The
son is a good-natured young fellow enough.
He informed me on one occasion that our
mothers had been friends. From the way in
which her name was received at home when I
mentioned itnever connecting it in my mind
with any person of whom I had heardI should
have thought that not likely to be true. The
recollection of the woman is not pleasant to my

"All bitter feeling has had time to be
forgotten," said the Mother Augustine. "Judith
Blake was poor and proud, handsome and a
dependant, and there are many excuses to be
made for such people. Stories will be
exaggerated, and reputations whispered away
upon very little. We will hope she is not a
bad woman, but it is plain she has not the gift
of winning affection. And that may be truly
called a misfortune in itself."

"And this girl is dependent upon her, you
say?" asked Sir Archie.

"From the few words I have gathered from
her I should think so," said the mother, "that
she is bound to her in some way and would be
glad to escape. How much is the girl's own
fault, I do not know, but that the lady has been
foolish with her, and neglectful of her, we can
guess from the circumstances which have led
to her coming here."

"If all we have heard be true, or even half
of it," said Sir Archie, "the girl is to be pitied.
And she looks like a young creature who would
need delicate handling. You must see to it,
Mary. Take my word for it, she is worthy of
your notice. I never met an eye more pure
and simple, and there is much patience as well
as energy in the habit of the features."

"It is true," said the mother; "though I
did not think you could have observed so much
in your haste."

"I do not often see a face like that," said
Sir Archie; "and when I do it pains me to see
such a face in trouble. It is sure to be left
longer unrelieved than another, because it
suffers without noise. I think you may safely
take yonder little maid under your wing, sister
Mary. The whole character of her bearing is
true. She endures fear without losing self-
possession, and she takes a favour in good faith
and with all simplicity."

"It is pleasant to hear you say so," said the
mother, "for I have thought much the same
myself. I will take care not to lose sight of
our protégée. And we will make ourselves her
guardians: as far as the wise Providence
permits us to be able."

In the mean time Hester lingered amongst
her vines up so high, till the brother and sister
passed out of her sight, from the paths in
the garden down below. The next thing of
interest she saw was a lay sister in her white
veil and apron, with a basket of new laid
eggs, coming down the long green alleys from
some unseen home of hens. It did not occur
to Hester's mind that this vision had any
significance with regard to her own coming
breakfast. But it was dinner-time with the
inmates of St. Mark's.

The Mother Augustine had a little corner of
her own in her convent, a place where she
transacted her business, where she had a right
to sit in private when she liked; which the
novices kept dressed with fresh flowers for her
sake; which was called among the sisters the
mother's room. It had no adornments but
those flowers, and a statuette of St. Vincent,
the guardian of poor children. One sole strip
of carpet relieved the barrenness of the shining
floor. There was no lack of papers and books,
of sunshine when it was to be had, and there
was generally a heap of pears somewhere on a
dish of leaves; encouragement at hand for timid
little ones, to whom the mother might find it
necessary to talk, on occasion.

Hester was not, certainly, a child; yet the
sweet fruits found their way to her plate. And
the Mother Augustine herself poured the coffee
into her cup, and dealt to her cream and butter,
plums and apricots, with as much lavish nicety
as if the furnishing and attendance upon delicate
repasts were the most important concern
of her life.

When the meal was over the Mother
Augustine drew some sewing from a basket and
fell to working in her sunny window. One
might guess from appearances that she was