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BLACK SHEEP!

BY THE AUTHOR OF "LAND AT LAST," " KISSING THE ROD,' &c. &c.

BOOK III.

CHAPTER III. ON THE BALCONY.

"ARE you going out this evening, Stewart?"
asked Harriet Routh of her husband, as they
sat together, after their dinnerwhich had not
been a particularly lively mealwas removed.
She did not look at him as she put the question,
but gazed out of the window, holding back the
curtain, while she spoke. Stewart Routh was
examining the contents of a heap of letters
which lay on the table before him, and did not
answer for a moment. She repeated the question:

"Are you going out anywhere this evening,
Stewart?"

"Of course I am going out," he answered,
impatiently. "Why do you ask? I am not
going to be mewed up here in this stifling
room all the evening."

"No, of course not," she answered, very
gently and without an inflection in her voice
to betray that she perceived the irritation
of his tone. " Of course not. You go out
every evening, as every one else does here.
I only asked because I think of going with
you."

"You, Harry?" he said, with real embarrassment,
but with feigned cordiality. "That is
a sudden start. Why, you have never been
out in the evening since we've been here but
once, and then you seemed to dislike the
place very much. Have you not been out to-day?"

"Yes, I have. I walked a long way to-day.
But I have a fancy to go to the Kursaal this
evening. George Dallas tells me a number of
new people have come, and I have a fancy to
see them."

Stewart Routh frowned. He disliked this
fancy of his wife's; he did not understand it.
Harriet had always shrunk from strangers and
crowds, and had gone to Homburg very
unwillingly. On their first arrival, when he would
have been tolerably willing to take her about
with him, though he felt a growing repugnance
to her society, she would not go out
except to drink the waters early in the day, and
now, on an occasion when it was particularly
inconvenient to him, she took a fancy to go out.
Besides, he hated the mention of George Dallas's
name. There was a tacit sympathy between
him and Harriet on this point. True, she
bore the pain of his daily visits, but then she
was accustomed to bearing pain. But she
rarely spoke of him, and she knew his intercourse
with Routh was very slight and casual.
Harriet possessed even more than the ordinary
feminine power of divination in such
matters, and she felt instinctively that Mr.
Pelton both disliked and distrusted her
husband.

"It is fortunate we do not want to use Dallas
for our purpose any longer," Harriet had said
to herself, on only the second occasion of
her seeing the uncle and nephew together
"very fortunate; for Mr. Felton would be a
decided and a dangerous antagonist. Weak
and wavering as George is, his uncle could rule
him, I am sure, and would do so, contrary to
us." This impression had been confirmed since
Harriet had watched, as she was in the habit of
doing, the proceedings of Mr. Felton and
George at Homburg. When George visited
her, he rarely mentioned Routh, and she knew
they had not dined together ever since they had
been there. Assisted, insensibly, by his uncle's
opinion and influence, George had emancipated
himself, as all his reflections had dictated, but
as all his resolutions had failed to accomplish.
So Harriet ceased to mention George to Routh,
and thus it was that her speech jarred
unpleasantly upon his ear.

"Indeed," he said. " I should think Dallas
a very poor judge of what is or is not likely
to amuse you. However, I'm sorry I can't
take you out this evening. I have an
engagement."

Still she kept her head turned from him and
looked out of the window. He glanced at her
uneasily, cleared his throat, and went on:

"I promised to meet Hunt and Kirkland at
the tables to-night, and try our luck. I'm sorry
for it, Harry, and I'll keep to-morrow evening
quite free. That will do for you, won't
it?"

"Yes," she replied; "that will do."

She did not look round, and he did not
approach her. He fidgeted about the room a

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