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A STRANGE STORY.

By the author of "My Novel," " Rienzi," &c.
CHAPTER LVII.

Mrs. Poyntz was on her favourite seat by the
window, and, for a wonder, not knittingthat
classic task seemed done; but she was smoothing
and folding the completed work with her white
comely hand, and smiling over it, as if in
complacent approval, when I entered the room. At
the fireside sat the he-colonel, inspecting a newly-
invented barometer; at another window, in the
farthest recess of the room, stood Miss Jane
Poyntz, with a young gentleman whom I had
never before seen, but who turned his eyes full
upon me with a haughty look as the servant
announced my name. He was tall, well
proportioned, decidedly handsome, but with that
expression of cold and concentred self-esteem in
his very attitude, as well as his countenance, which
makes a man of merit unpopular, a man without
merit ridiculous.

The he-colonel, always punctiliously civil, rose
from his seat, shook hands with me cordially, and
said, "Coldish weather to-day; but we shall have
rain to-morrow. Rainy seasons come in cycles.
We are about to commence a cycle of them with
heavy showers." He sighed, and returned to his
barometer.

Miss Jane bowed to me graciously enough,
but was evidently a little confused, a circumstance
which might well attract my notice, for I
had never before seen that high-bred young lady
deviate a hair's breadth from the even tenour of a
manner admirable for a cheerful and courteous
ease, which one felt convinced would be unaltered
to those around her if an earthquake swallowed
one up an inch before her feet.

The young gentleman continued to eye me
loftily, as the heir-apparent to some celestial
planet might eye an inferior creature from a half-
formed nebula suddenly dropped upon his
sublime and perfected star.

Mrs. Poyntz extended to me two fingers, and
said, frigidly, "Delighted to see you again!
How kind to attend so soon to my note!"
Motioning me to a seat beside her, she here turned
to her husband, and said, "Poyntz, since a cycle
of rain begins to-morrow, better secure your ride
to-day. Take these young people with you. I
want to talk with Dr. Fenwick."

The colonel carefully put away his barometer,
and saying to his daughter " Come!" went forth.
Jane followed her father; the young gentleman
followed Jane.

The reception I had met chilled and
disappointed me. I felt that Mrs. Poyntz was
changed, and in her change the whole house
seemed changed. The very chairs looked civilly
unfriendly, as if preparing to turn their backs on
me. However, I was not in the false position of
an intruder; I had been summoned; it was for
Mrs. Poyntz to speak first, and I waited quietly
for her to do so.

She finished the careful folding of her work,
and then laid it at rest in the drawer of the table
at which she sate. Having so done, she turned
to me, and said,

"By the way, I ought to have introduced to
you my young guest, Mr. Ashleigh Sumner.
You would like him. He has talentsnot showy,
but solid. He will succeed in public life."

"So that young man is Mr. Ashleigh Sumner?
I do not wonder that Miss Ashleigh rejected
him."

I said this, for I was nettled, as well as
surprised, at the coolness with which a lady who
had professed a friendship for me mentioned that
fortunate young gentleman, with so complete an
oblivion of all the antecedents that had once
made his name painful to my ear.

In turn, my answer seemed to nettle Mrs.
Poyntz.

"I am not so sure that she did reject;
perhaps she rather misunderstood him; gallant
compliments are not always proposals of
marriage. However that be, his spirits were not
much damped by Miss Ashleigh' s disdain, nor
his heart deeply smitten by her charms, for he is
now very happy, very much attached to another
young lady, to whom he proposed, three days ago,
at Lady Delafield's, and, not to make a mystery
of what all our little world will know before
tomorrow, that young lady is my daughter Jane."

"Were I acquainted with Mr. Sumner, I
should offer to him my sincere congratulation."

Mrs. Poyntz resumed, without heeding a reply
more complimentary to Miss Jane than to the
object of her choice:

"I told you that I meant Jane to marry a rich
country gentleman, and Ashleigh Sumner is the
very country gentleman I had then in my
thoughts. He is cleverer and more ambitious

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