A Me7iial Strugejle. 207
Whilst she puzzles her brain to recall tbe night wherr he
had dined with her in company with the Deverills, Sandie,
with a view to assisting her, says very distinctly :
" Just about the time the Browns came here. Don't
you remember, mother ?"
He says it blithely, feeling as If he had helped his mother
out of a difficulty. Instead of getting her into one, and then
goes on with his fish, blissfully unconscious of the horrible
mischief he has done.
"The Browns!—the Browns!" says Lady Edgerton,
with an awful stress upon the plebeian name. " Who are
they ? Why is It I have never heard their names men¬
tioned before ?"
Dead silence follows upon her question. Though con¬
siderably aged, Lady Edgerton has lost none of the per¬
spicuity that had signally characterised her in her early
youth. Looking up now sharply, first to the left and then
to the right of her, she overtakes an agonised glance sent
from Lady Olivia to Imogen, and at once Is mistress of the
Once more she turns her keen, searching old eyes on the
"And who," she asks. In a tone marvellously mild for
her, " m.ay these Browns be ?"
" A question! " returns Sandie, shrugging his shoulders
and laughing. "But uncommonly nice people all the same,
I can assure you. Old Browrr went in for cotton, I believe
many years ago, and made his pile so, and the others have
been reaping the benefit of It ever since. A very satis¬
factory crop, I should say, eh ? " turning to his father.
" Perhaps—no doubt: it hardly matters," responds Sir
Hugh, conftrsedly. "Tell your aunt about that run we
had yesterday. It will Interest her far more than the
present subject, which Is strange to her."
" Strange things have their value," says the old lady
tersely. " Variety, as you know. Sir Hugh, Is always
charming. Go on, my dear Sandie : your account of these
new friends of yours Is very Interesting. These—cotton
" Pooh! " returns Sandie, laughing, and not seeing the