208 A Mental Struggle.
despairing glance his mother is casting at him—a glance
however, not thro-wn altogether away, as Lady Edgerton
catches it, and makes her own of it for future use in the
twinkling of an eye—'• if you only saw them, yotr would
forget the cotton entirely. The trademark was obliterated
long ago. Clanbrassil, whom vou are so fond of, isn't a
patch on Felix Brown in any way. He has distinguished
manners, if you like ! "
It Is enough ! The terrible truth is out.
" Oh, indeed !" says Lady Edgerton, with an eloquent
sniff"; and after that relapses into a stern silence.
" She's mad at having her favourite disparaged," thinks
Sandie to himself, with an artful chuckle; but happening
to raise his eyes at this moment, he meets, for the first
time, his mother's reproachful glance and Patricia's angr'y
one, and discovers at last what a thorn in the fiesh he has
been to his family for the past ten minutes.
A most miserable hour ensues, prolonged by Lady Oli-yia,
who knows there is nothing to follow it but a worse hour
in the drawing-room. At last, when -ndth decency she can
no longer delay, she rises from her seat, and retires with
her aunt and the girls, leaving the happier sex to the
discussion, merely, of their wine.
There is a grand lire in the drawing-room as they enter
—a fire that roars and crackles and smells of jollity and
good-humour—a fire that might, indeed, have melted the
temjier of Xantippe, but it fails wdth Lady Edgerton.
Her niece, pushing forward a delicious armchau', full of
softest cushions, and breathing of slumber, wdth a view to
propitiating her, is rudely repulsed.
" If that is meant for me, Olivia, pray spare yourself the
trouble. I never sleep after dinner as you know. I am not
in my dotage }'et, thank Heaven. I know cdl that is going
orr arotrnd me. Imogen, hand me that chair near you !"
Imogen obeys in silence, feeling that a crisis is at hand.
It Is, indeed, closer even than they imagine.
Her ladyship has scarcely sunk with a groan of disgust
into the extremely uncomfortable and hard-backed chair
her temper has chosen, than she gives way to the spleen
that has been consuming her throughout dinner.