24 MOLLY BAWN.
most poverty-stricken of your acquaintances. Can any con¬
fession be more humiliating? Good sir, my face is incieea
my fortune. Or is it my voice ?' pausing suddenly, as thougn
a cold breath from the dim hereafter had blown across her
cheek. ' I hardly know.'
' A rich fortune either way.'
' And here I am recklessly imperilling one, hastily putting
on her hat once more, ' by exposing my precious skin to that
savaf'e sun. Come—it is almost cool now—let us have a
good^race down the hill.' She slips her slender fingers within
his—a lovable trick of hers, innocent of coquetry; and
Luttrell, conquering, with a sigh, a wild desire to clasp and
kiss the owner of those little clinging fingers on the spot,
together they run down the slope into the longer grass below,
and so, slowly and more decorously, journey homewards.
On their return they find the house still barren of inmates;
no sign of the master or mistress anywhere. Even the servants
are invisible. ' It might almost be the enchanted palace,'
Two of the children, seeing her on the lawn, break from
tlieir nurse, who is sleeping the sleep of the just, with her
bro.ad back against an elm, and running to Molly fling
their arms around her. She rewards them with a kiss
apiece, one of which Luttrell sun-eptitiously purloins from
' Oh, you have come back, :\rolly. And where have you
' " Over the hills and far away."'
'Very far away] But you" brought her back again,'
nodding a golden head giavely at Luttrell; ' and nurse said
you wouldn't. She said ail soldiers were wicked, and that
some d.ay you wc.uld steal our Molly, But you won't,'
coaxingly, ' will you, now ?'
Luttrell and Molly laugh and redden a little
'I doubt I would be able,' he says, without raising his
eyes from the child s face. °
; I don't think you are a soldier at all,' declares the darker
maiden, coming more boldly to the front, as though fortified
by this assertion 'You have no sword; and there never
was a soldier without a sword, was there ?'
'I begin to feel distmctly ashamed of myself,' says