210 A Me7ital Struggle.
The latter might Indeed be cut In stone, for all the
emotion she shows, or consciousness of tho comedy being
enacted before her.
" Patricia, my smelling-salts !" says the dowager at last,
in a commanding voice.
"Would you -wish for some Eau-de-Cologne, Aunt
Araminta ?" asks Patricia, bending solicitously over her.
"It is such an excellent cure for—for things of this
" What things ? " sharply.
" The spleen ! " murmurs Patricia artlessly, " for one
thing. And—do try it—It may cure you ! " She makes
a little mischievous 7noue at Imogen over her grand-aunt's
irreproachable lace-cap. " I'll get it for you in no time,"
Lady Edgerton, beyond gl-ving way to an angry snort,
takes no notice of this considerate offer. Once again her
whole attention is given to the crushing of the unfortunate
" I always felt Hugh was a Radical," she says ; " now I
know it. All his desires and tendencies are distinctly low.
But for that I scarcely blame him. The Heriots, so far as
I have ever learned anything about them, have alwaj's
been men of very loose opinions, and perpetually on the
verge of bankruptcy."
Lady Olivia starts violently, and the colour dies from
Patricia, who happens to be looking at her, sees this.
" At least do my father the justice to remember that he
betrayed no low tendencies when he chose my mother for
his wife," she says, with a sudden little touch of haughti¬
ness that sits very funnily but very sweetly on her.
Imogen, withdrawing her eyes slowly from the fire, lifts
them to her sister's face.
" Is It worth while?" she asks in a low tired tone. " Is
defence necessary ? "
She waits for no answer to her words, but goes back to
her immovable contemplation of the glowing coals.
" You are an impertinent girl!" exclaims Lady Edgerton
furiously, looking at Patricia with her fierce old eyes aflame.