A Mental Struggle. 97
man in there," pointing towards the library. " Would
you believe it, he actually had the—the audacity to ask me
who I was ! "
" Say the word," says old Bohun, " and I'll have him
flayed alive ! Well ? "
" Well, I was determined he shouldn't know my real
name, so I told him I was one of the—Darnleys of
"One of the Darnleys of Dering? Ha! ha! ha!"
roars he; " one of the Darnleys, eh? Ha ? ha! ha ! "
" Yes," regarding him with a certain gravity that
savours of disapproval; "being one of the men stationed
at Bigton, I knew he could not be acquainted with the
Dering people. I was sorry to be obliged to do it; but
he was mistaken enough to ask me the question outright,
and what could I do ? "
" What indeed!" says INIr. Bohun, who is now almost
apoplectic with a mirth he tries in vain to subdue ; " and
which of them did you personate, Penelope or ^Matilda ?"
" Matilda," says Patricia solemnly.
" Matilda ! By Jove ! Ha! Ha ! HA ! " cries old
Bohun, once more forgetful of hLs manners. He throws
back his head and slaps his leg, and gives way to laughter
Meanwhile Patricia—standing mutely before him—
watches him with an unsmiling eye. What is the mean¬
ing of it all ? What has she said or done to evoke sirch
amusement in his breast ? Wrath grows within her.
" Do you know," she says suddenly, turning to him
with a suspicious sweetness in her tone, " I had no idea,
urrtil this moment, that the situation was so rich in
humour. But forgive my dulness—v/here does the joke
come in ?"
" What!" says he, wiping his eyes, " and can't you
see it ?" This question on his part is only put to gain
" No," returns she slowly; I cannot / "
" What ? Don't you see ? Your being alone there
together, and your saying you were Matilda, you know,
eh? and—er------" Here he hopelessly flounders, and