86 A Mental Struggle.
" I thought, perhaps, you might have met her some¬
where," says Patricia. " As for me, I am seldom at
Dering"—here she smiles, the sly little puss—" but my—
Miss Darnley is always there. You are sure you haven't
met her ? I fancied, from wdiat you said a moment since,
that you might perhaps be acqtrainted with her or Mr.
Darnley—my father, you know." She leans back in her
chair, and a little rippling laugh breaks from her.
" I ! Ah ! No! one meets so many people. Is your
sister pretty ?" stammers her companion very shame¬
facedly ; yet through all his apparent discomfort there is
still apparent the most unmitigated surprise.
" Lovely !" cries Patricia, with the utmost enthusiasm,
thinking of Imogen.
Then all at once she remembers the swarthy skin and
somewdiat substantial features of Penelope Darnley, and
collapses into an eloquent silence.
' • Ah! then it seems I have missed something. No;
I have never seen the ]\Iiss Darnley of whom you speak."
Is there the faintest possible emphasis on the pronoun ?
If so, Patricia, who is stUl busy with her tea-tray, and is
looking full at him now with the sugar-tongs suspended in
mid-air, perceives it not.
'• Sugar ?" she asks, more genially than she has as yet
spoken to him.
" Yes; lots," says he.
" Greedy," says she ; and forthwith drops from two to
thi'ce or four lumps into his cup. " I should think your
spoon would stand in it if I put any more," she exclaims,
Poor fellow, his punishment has lasted now quite long
enough, and so she'll let him off for the rest of the
When they have eaten most of the cakes (they are both
young), and have got through a good deal more of the
tea than is good for them, the strange young man grows
confidential. He stoops across to her.
" Just like Darby and Joan, isn't it ?" he says, with a
" What ?" demands Patricia stonily.