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IV

should so perfectly understand, should so

patiently wait for our good hug. But you EILA had come and gone, and they had did n't really mind them at luncheon, did had their talk. It had not lasted as

you, dearest ?long as either of them wished, for in the Mrs. Lidcote, at that, had suddenly middle of it Leila had been summoned to thrown a long, startled look at her daughthe telephone to receive an important ter. “I don't mind things of that kind message from town, and had sent her maid any longer," she had simply answered. to tell Mrs. Lidcote that she could n't “But that does n't console me for havcome back just then, as one of the young ing exposed you to the bother of it, for ladies had been called away unexpectedly having let you come here when I ought and arrangements had to be made for her to have ordered you off to Ridgefield departure. But the mother and daughter with Susy. If Susy had n't been stupid, had had almost an hour together, and she'd have made you go there with Mrs. Lidcote was happy. She had never her. I hate to think of you up here all seen Leila so tender, so solicitous. The alone.” only thing that troubled her was, indeed, Again Mrs. Lidcote tried to read somethe very excess of this solicitude, the exag- thing more than a rather obtuse devotion gerated expression of her daughter's an- in her daughter's radiant gaze. “I'm noyance that their first moments together glad to have had a rest this afternoon, should have been marred by the presence dear; and later --" of strangers.

"Oh, yes, later, when all this fuss is “Not strangers to me, darling, since over, we'll more than make up for it, they 're friends of yours," her mother had sha'n't we, you precious darling?" And assured her.

at this point Leila had been summoned to "Yes; but I know your feeling, you the telephone, leaving Mrs. Lidcote alone queer, wild mother. I know how you've with her conjectures. always hated people." (Hated people! These were still Aoating before her in Had Leila forgotten why?) “And that's cloudy imprecision when Miss Suffern's why I told Susy that if you preferred to tap on the door roused her to the lapse of go with her to Ridgefield on Sunday, I time.

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“You 've come to take me down to “Oh, dear, no; they won't be here till tea? I'd forgotten how late it was," she

after seven.

Miss Suffern craned her said.

head from the window to catch a glimpse Miss Suffern, a plump, peering little of the motor. "It must be Charlotte leaywoman, with prim hair and a conciliatorying." smile, nervously adjusted, as she came in, "Was it the little Wynn girl who was the pendant bugles of her oddly elaborate called away in a hurry just now? I hope black dress. Miss Suffern was always in it 's not on account of illness." mourning, and always commemorating the Oh, no; I believe there was some misdemise of distant relatives by wearing the take about dates. Her mother telephoned discarded wardrobe of their next of kin. her that she was expected at the Stepleys, "It is n't exactly mourning," she would at Fishkill, and she had to be rushed over say; "but it 's the only stitch of black poor to Albany to catch a train." Julia had—and of course George was only Mrs. Lidcote meditated. “I 'm sorry. my mother's step-cousin."

She 's a charming young thing. I hoped As she came forward, Mrs. Lidcote I should have another talk with her this found herself humorously wondering evening after dinner." whether she were mourning Horace “Yes; it 's too bad.” Miss Suffern's Pursh's divorce in one of his mother's

gaze grew vague. “You do look tired, old black satins.

you know," she continued, seating herself “Oh, did you mean to go down?" Susy at the tea-table and preparing to dispense Suffern peered at her, a little fluttered. its delicacies. “You must go straight back “Leila sent me up to keep you company. to your sofa and let me wait on you. The She thought it would be cozier for you excitement has told on you more than you to have tea here. She was afraid you think, and you must n't fight against it were feeling rather tired.”

any longer. Just stay quietly up here and "I was; but I 've had the whole after- let yourself go. You 'll have Leila to noon to rest in. And this wonderful sofa yourself on Monday.” to help me."

Mrs. Lidcote received the tea-cup “Leila told me to tell you that she'd which her cousin proffered, but showed no rush up for a minute before dinner, after other disposition to obey her injunctions. everybody had arrived; but the train is For a moment she stirred her tea in sialways dreadfully late. She 's in despair lence; then she asked, “Is it your idea at not giving you a sitting-room; she that I should stay quietly up here till wanted to know if I thought you really Monday?" minded."

Miss Suffern set down her own cup Of course I don't mind. It 's not like with a gesture so sudden that it endanLeila to think I should.” Mrs. Lidcote gered an adjacent plate of scones. When drew aside to make way for the housemaid, she had assured herself of the safety of the who appeared in the doorway, bearing a scones, she looked up with a fluttered table spread with a studied variety of tea- laugh. "Perhaps, dear, by to-morrow cakes.

you'll be feeling differently. The air “Leila saw to it herself," Miss Suffern here, you know—" murmured as the door closed on the house- "Yes, I know." Mrs. Lidcote bent maid's efficient figure. “Her one idea is forward to help herself to a that you should feel happy here."

"Who 's arriving this evening?" she then It struck Mrs. Lidcote as

inquired. mark of the subverted state of things that Miss Suffern frowned and peered. her daughter's solicitude should find ex- "You know my wretched head for names. pression in the tenuity of sandwiches and Leila told me, of course-but there are the piping-hotness of muffins; but then

so many everything that had happened since her “So many? She did n't tell me she arrival seemed to increase her confusion. expected a big party.”

The note of a motor-horn down the “Oh, not big: but rather outside of her drive gave another turn to her thoughts. little group. And of course, as it 's the “Are those the new arrivals already ?" she first time, she 's a little excited at having asked.

the older set.”

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Mrs. Lidcote considered this. “Theolder the tea-things about, fingered her bugles set? Our contemporaries, you mean?" with a furried hand, and, looking at the

"Why-yes." Miss Suffern paused as clock, exclaimed amazedly: "Mercy! Is if to gather herself up for a leap. “The it seven already ?" Ashton Gileses," she brought out.

"Not that it can make any difference, I "The Ashton Gileses ? Really? I shall suppose, ,” Mrs. Lidcote musingly continbe glad to see Mary Giles again. It must ued. “But did Leila tell them I was be eighteen years," said Mrs. Lidcote, coming?" steadily,

Miss Suffern looked at her with pain. “Yes,” Miss Suffern gasped, precipi- "Why, you don't suppose, dearest, that tately refilling her cup.

Leila would do anything—" “The Ashton Gileses; and who else?" Mrs. Lidcote went on: “For, of course,

"Well, the Sam Fresbies. But the it's of the first importance, as you say, most important person, of course, is Mrs. that Mrs. Lorin Boulger should be faLorin Boulger."

vorably impressed in order that Wilbour "Mrs. Boulger? Leila did n't tell me may have the best possible chance of getshe was coming."

ting Rome." “Did n't she? I suppose she forgot “I told Leila you'd feel that, dear. everything when she saw you. But really You see, it 's actually on your accountthe party was got up for Mrs. Boulger. so that they may get a post near you— You see, it 's very important that she that Leila invited Mrs. Boulger.” should-well, take a fancy to Leila and “Yes, I see that, of course.” Mrs. LidWilbour: his being appointed to Rome cote, abruptly rising from her seat, turned virtually depends on it. And you know her eyes to the clock, “But, as you say, Leila insists on Rome in order to be near it 's getting late. Ought n't we to dress you. So she asked Mary Giles, who is for dinner?" intimate with the Boulgers, if the visit Miss Suffern, at the suggestion, stood could n't possibly be arranged; and Mary's up also, an agitated hand among her cable caught Mrs. Boulger at Cherbourg. bugles. "I do wish I could persuade you She 's to be only a fortnight in America; to stay up here this evening. I 'm sure and getting her to come directly here was Leila 'd be happier if you would. Really, rather a triumph."

you 're much too tired to come down." “Yes; I see it was," said Mrs. Lidcote. “What nonsense, Susy!” Mrs. Lidcote

“You know, she 's rather-rather spoke with a sudden sharpness, her hand fussy; and Mary was a little doubtful stretched to the bell. “When do we dine? it-"

At half-past eight? Then I must really “If she would, on account of Leila?" send you packing. At my age it takes time Mrs. Lidcote murmured.

to dress." "Well, yes. In her official position. Miss Suffern, thus decisively projected But luckily she's a friend of the Barkleys. toward the threshold, lingered there to And finding the Gileses and Fresbies here reiterate reproachfully: “ Leila 'll never will make it all right. The times have forgive herself if you make an effort changed,” Susy Suffern

indulgently you 're not up to." But Mrs. Lidcote summed up.

smiled on her without answering, and the Mrs. Lidcote smiled. "Yes; a few icy light-wave propelled her through the years ago it would have seemed improba- door. ble that I should ever again be dining with Mary Giles and Harriet Fresbie and Mrs. Lorin Boulger."

Mrs. LIDCOTE, though she had made the Miss Suffern did not at the moment gesture of ringing for her maid, had not seem disposed to enlarge upon this theme;

done so. and after an interval of silence Mrs. Lid- When the door closed, she stood a mocote suddenly resumed, "Do they know ment motionless in the middle of her soft, I'm here, by the way?"

spacious room. The little fire which had The effect of her question was to pro- been kindled at twilight danced on the duce in Miss Suffern an exaggerated ac- brightness of silver and mirrors and sober cess of peering and frowning. She twitched gilding; and the sofa toward which Miss

V

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