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                  IN FIVE BOOKS.
                        BOOK V.

MAUD'S visit to Lowater took place as
arranged. Only instead of remaining
merely a day with the Sheardowns she
stayed in their house a week. Mrs.
Sheardown had strongly urged, almost insisted
on, this.

"You have not now the plea that you
cannot leave the vicar to be lonely," she
said. "The vicar has no lack of society
and excitement at present. As for you, I
don't think you desire to share in either
the society or the excitement. Do you
think Hugh would like that you should?
Stay with us. I shall tell Hugh that I have
taken good care of his treasure, and he will
be grateful to me."

As to Veronica's presence in Shipley
Magna, Mrs. Sheardown did not trust
herself to say very much on that score to
Maud. She did say a few words, quietly,
but sternly, disapproving the proceeding.
And Maud was unable to gainsay her. But
in speaking to her husband, Nelly
Sheardown gave utterance to her disgust and
indignation quite vehemently.

"Did you ever hear of such a thing,
Tom? Did any one ever hear of such a
thing? The woman must have lost all
sense of decency!"

"Why, Nelly," returned the captain,
"have I not heard you say more than once,
that if that misguided girl were to return
you would not turn your back on her; but
would hold out a helping hand to her in
any way that you could? Have I heard
you say that, or did I dream it?"

"You know that you have heard me say
it. And I do not repent of having said it.
But you are not speaking fairly. You
know very well, Tom, that my 'helping
hand' was to be contingent on a very
different state of things from that which
actually exists. If she had shown any
penitence, any remorse for the misery she
caused, any consideration for others, I
would have done what I could for her;
more, I confess, for Maud's sake and the
vicar's, than her own. But to come back
here under the present circumstances; not l
etting even a sufficient time elapse to soften
the memory of her disgrace; flaunting her
ill-gotten riches and her contemptible
husband in the face of everybody who has
known her from childhood—"

"Contemptible husband! Why, my dear
little wife, you know nothing about him at
all events!"

"Do I not know the circumstances under
which his marriage was made?"

"Certainly not."

"I know, at least, so much of them as
suffices to prove that he must be a man
without any sense of honour, or dignity,
or even decency! That he is, in short, as
I saidcontemptible!"

The captain had thought it necessary to
endeavour to stem his warm-hearted wife's
vehemence with a little show of that
judicial impartiality which so becomes a
man, and which he is usually so ready to
display for the edification of the weaker sex
in cases that do not touch his own passions
or prejudices. But in his heart Captain
Sheardown was little less shocked and
disgusted at Veronica's conduct than his wife
was, and he warmly concurred with her
in desiring to keep Maud as far as possible
apart from the vicar's daughter. There
were other reasons, also, why the Sheardowns