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"A VERY nice girl indeed," pronounced Lady
Helen, "and does great credit to Mary's
judgment. She is so well-bred she actually
makes one look to one's manners. I am only
afraid that her instep is too high, and her
shoulders have too elegant a slope."

"I never heard that those were signs of
delicacy," said Mrs. Hazeldean. "And I think
she looks healthy, if not very robust."

Lady Helen opened her languid eyes. "How
odd you are, Margaret," she said. "I did
not speak of health. I mean that I am afraid
she is too much of a lady."

"She is not above her work," put in Miss
Janet, impelled by honesty to speak from her

"She is not a fool, I can tell you," said Miss

And these were some of the comments that
were made upon Hester. Sir Archie, who was
present when they began, suddenly left the
room before they were finished.

"There he goes!" cried Lady Helen, "not a
bit changed since before he went away. I am
sure there is something on his mind. He will
read the papers; he will ponder and fret about
the rebels. I have written to Mary about it.
I can do no more."

The Honourable Madge began to hum. She
was knotting a silk purse for her favourite
Archie; and she gave herself a little rock in
her chair after she had accomplished each knot.
She began to hum snatches of a pet doggrel of
the glens.

"Archie Munro! Archie Munro!
Blessings go with you wherever you go!"

"I do fear he is getting into trouble,"
mourned Lady Helen.

"Long may the blast of the war-bugle blow,
Calling to battle brave Archie Munro!"

hummed the Honourable Madge in her little
cracked voice.

"Leave Archie to himself," said Mrs. Hazeldean,
hastily, raising her voice to drown the
words of Madge's song. "Not one of us here is
fit to advise him. He will act for the best."

"I wish you would hold your tongue,
Madge," whimpered Lady Helen. "I don't
think you would care if he were carried off
from us to-morrow. And it's very easy for you
to talk, Margaret, about his acting for the best,
but I tell you that I have always been subject
to presentiments."

Lady Helen's nostrils and lips began to
quiver, and Mrs. Hazeldean saw a rising storm
of terror in her eyes. Therefore Hester was
immediately sent for to take her ladyship's
dimensions for a dress; which timely diversion
of the nervous lady's thoughts was a godsend
in its results to all the household.

"I shall ask you, Miss Cashel, to come with
me and take a look over my wardrobe," said
Lady Helen, rousing herself, with a sigh, to
make the effort of encountering a frivolous
necessity. "I am afraid you will be shocked
at the state of neglect in which you will
find it. Your nice ideas will be offended at
seeing fashions six months old. For what with
anxiety of mind, and the natural carelessness
which steals upon one in a quiet place like this,
I must own I have been neglectful of some of
the duties of my state in life."

"They accumulate, you see," said Lady Helen,
looking round her with a victimised air, while
Hester stood aghast, among rows of scarce-worn
dresses. "The time will go on, and one's
clothing must be renewed. Dresses will
multiply, although I am so moderate. Queen
Elizabeth had a dress for every day in the
year, Miss Cashel. And yet she lived, you
know, in comparatively a barbarous age."

Lady Helen put in that "you know" with
an emphasis, and a manifest satisfaction, which
showed how finely she appreciated the luxury
of having a lady who had probably read history,
for her dressmaker.

When Hester went back to her tower room,
carrying a load of finery in her arms, she found
Miss Janet established at her fireside. A soft
misty rain was drifting down the glen beyond
the window. The world outside looked wrapped
up in a rent white garment, some shaggy
crowns of mountains, and some straggling arms
of trees being here and there thrust through
the ragged holes.

Miss Janet nodded at Hester when she
entered, and went on warming her silk-shod
feet at the pleasant glow in Hester's grate.
She had picked out the most comfortable chair,