A Mental Struggle. 3
exclusive ! It is an eminently well-bred country-side, and
never yet had introduced within its sacred boundaries such
a horror as a family polluted by trade. And now (as Lady
Olivia whispers to herself, to her discomfiture) it seems
that she is on the fair road to be the first one to introduce
that horror within her hitherto well guarded gates. " What
was it ? " she asks again.
" Cotton ! " an.swered Sir Hugh briefly.
And then indeed his wife feels that her cup is ftdl.
" If it had been even ivine," she says hopelessly; " but
cotton ! I'm sure I don't know what the Gordons will
" If you did, my dear Olivia, you would be the cleverest
woman on earth, which, thank goodness, you aren't. To
read our neighbours' thoitghts is beyond us —a most merciful
arrangement by-the-bye," says Sir Hugh, with an attempt at
light-hearted raillery that sits very badly on him, and only
serves to bring tears to his wife's eyes. Seeing them, he
drags his chair over the carpet until he is qtiite close to her,
and laying his own hand on her white plump one, pats it
softly. " Look here," he says, in his usual kindly, loving
voice, " it can't be got out of in any way. I've viewed it
all round, and it's not to be done. I look to you to put me
through this unpleasant affair, as I've looked to you all my
" Well, you shan't look in vain," replies Lady Olivia,
cheerfully; she returns the pressure of his hand, and if the
tears still linger in her eyes, they now mingle with a
warmth and gladness that speak of loving trust, born many
years ago, and destined never to die. " I shouldn't care
about it," she says, earnestly, "I shouldn't indeed—though
I feel the girl will be unbearable—if—if it wouldn't be
such an additional expense."
"True," answers her husband; and the sharp lines that
care has laid upon his face become now more defined. '• But
as I said before, it can't be helped; so we must only make
the best of it."
But to Lady Olivia it seems difficult just now to make
the best of it. All seems at its very worst. She leans
back in her chair, and triiies idly with the crumbs of toast