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with a laugh. “Miss Bunnett, how do you like
this house? The pictures and the finery show
you what banking can do. Long live the City!
I say. When I am altogether run out of means,
I think I must take to the City, and come in
time to have a place like your Bully Hall which
that gentleman warms up so much about.”

Bulmer is our placesaid the young lady,
coldly.

Well, Bulmer. I beg its pardon. I say, Tillotson,
you should let out a little, and not hoard
as you do. This young lady says you should
give a ball, and not keep up a melancholy face,
as if you were ordered for execution. When he
comes to sit to Huishisn’t he the swell painter?
they will say you were trying to look like
Byron.”

Grainger struck in in his calm voice: “You
see, our friend Ross takes bitter views. The
world has rubbed him a little, Miss Bunnett.
He has been disappointed, and he has had a bad
opinion from his lawyer to-day about that funny
lawsuit we spoke of.”

Ross’s eyes flashed fury. “I have not,” he
said, angrily. “It’s just the contrary. I know
the parties who will laugh on the wrong side of
their countenances. But I see this is some of
your joking that you picked up at Homburg,
where they stripped you nicely, my fine friend.”

The Bunnetts and other City people listened,
wondering, but could make nothing of what
they heard. This might be the talk of high
society; so they held themselves in suspense.
At any rate, it was time forthe ladies to retire,”
and Mrs. Tillotson gladly rose.

When, the gentlemen came up an hour later,
Mr. Nelgrove was asking the captain privately,
Who, now, could you tell me, is that man Ross?
Very odd, very odd indeed.”

Ah, bless you,” said the captain, “that’s all
gag, as we may call it. The pair are always
going on that way togetherat it morning, noon,
and night. A sort of quizzing, you know.”

O, quizzing!” said the other, doubtfully.
But I declare I thought he was in good
earnest.”

Mr. Grainger stole over to Mrs. Tillotson as
soon as he entered. “Would you show me
your new piano?” he said. “Who is the maker?
I am longing to see it.” And Mr. Tillotson’s
eyes followed them over into the next room.
We have been on a volcano since you left us,”
said Grainger, in a low voice. “It passes belief
all we have gone through. Ross is losing his
senses, I believe; and, though I say it, really
only for me——”

This is growing dreadful,” she said, putting
her hands to her face in sore distress.

When the ladies went, his only restraint was
gone. He contradicted nearly every word your
husband said. Mr. Tillotson, I must say, bore it
with admirable temper. ‘What can he know of
pictures,’ he said, ‘who has lived in a hole of a
bank all his life? Now, of course, he has come
out into civilised life, but it will take time and
training to civilise him to that extent.’ Then
he went on to become worse. I am. afraid he
has been drinking more than he ought. At last
I think your husband lost his temper, and I
must say answered him with spirit. Set him
down quite. You see, Ross is in a sulk. He is
brooding over it.”

Ross was in this state, and now came over to
them. “When did you begin to take interest
in pianos?” he said. “Is that the way to attend
to your guests, Mrs. Tillotson? As for your
husband, he has insulted me down-stairs, and, by
Heavens, he shall answer it. He thinks, because
he throws his mess down here before me,
because he gives us a glass of miserable wine that
he don’t know how to choose, he can treat me
as he likes. Another minute, and I would
have thrown it in his face. He supposes he
can insult me.”

You insulted him. Grossly insulted him,”
said Grainger.

I did not,” said the other, fiercely. “What
is it to you, if I did? Look at him now, peering
over here with his pious facethe sweet
suffering Joseph! And to insult me before this
pack of low cockneys, too! I’ll have it out with
him, and make him apologise on his knees, and
in this very room.”

O Ross, Ross,” she said, in a low voice of
anguish, “will nothing have any effect on you?
You are making me more and more wretched
every hour.”

That comes well from you,” he said. “You
may thank yourself for all this. Everything
I do now is your own work. Recollect that.”

Mr. Nelgrove came sidling over. “Shall
we not hear the instrument?” he said, gaily.
Here’s Mr. Bunnett really a judge. Ask
him”—Mr. Bunnett was rolling down slowly
ask him if he would take a twenty-pound note
for his pianojust do, for the fun of the thing.
I think, Bunnett, it was twenty-five pound
ten you gave for that satin-wood piano, with the
gold and the carvings, eh?”

Mr. Bunnett smiled good humouredly and
modestly.

Didn’t Erard tell you,” went on Nelgrove,
it was the cheapest in his shop?” Then, in a
low whisper to Mrs. Tillotson, “Gave five hundred
for it! Saw the cheque myself.”

Thus those rooms, not very large as they
were, had become a theatre of human passions.
Several plays were going on together: suspense,
anxiety, doubt, distrust, resentment, intrigue,
faded conventionality; yet over the surface a
roseate complacency that all around was smooth,
conventional, and going on cheerfully.

In the midst of this Mrs. Tillotson played.
(“They have a full grand at Bulmer,” Mr.
Nelgrove whispered under the back of his
hand to the captain, “that would fill a
church;” news utterly unintelligible to the
captain, who thought a full grand might be a
foreign officer of some kind, and said, “Yes.
Have they, now?”) When she had done, and had
risen softly, it had grown late. Mrs. Bunnett,
between whom and Mrs. Tilney no approximation
had taken place, was rustling her rich silk noisily.
Mrs. Tillotson had risen, and was softly walking

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