MOLLY BAWN. 147
* Busy ? Oh, what a stranger I am to you, my dear !'
exclaims Cecil, elevating her brows, ' it is three long years
since last I was busy, I am sure I wish I were, perhaps it
might help me to get through the time. I have spent the
last hour wondering what on earth brought me to thia
benighted spot, and I really don't know yet,'
' Grandpapa's invitation, I suppose,' says Molly, laugh¬
' Well yes, perhaps so; and something else, something
that I verily believe brings us all! The fact that ho has
untold money, and can leave it where he pleases. There
lies the secret of our yearly visitations. We outsiders don't
of course hope to be the heir—Philip is that, or Marcia, or
perhaps both; but still there is a good deal of ready money
going, and we all hope to be " kindly remembered," Each
time we sacrifice ourselves by coming down here, we console
ourselves by the reflection that it is at least another hundred
tacked on to our legacy.'
' What if you are disappointed ?'
' I often think of that,' says her ladyship, going off into
a perfect peal of laughter, ' Oh ! the fun it would be.
Think of our expressions. I assure you I spend whole hours
picturing Maud Darley's face under the circumstances; you
know she takes those long drives with him every day in the
fond hope of cutting us all out and getting the lion's share,'
' Poor woman! it is sad if she has all her trouble for
nothing, I do not think I should like driving with grand¬
' I share your sentiments—neither should I. Still, there
is a charm in money. Every night before going to bed I tot
np on my fingers the amount of the bequest I feel I ought to
receive. It has reached 2,000?. by this. Next visit will
commence a fresh thousand.'
' You are sanguine,' says Molly, ' I wonder if I shall go
on hoping like you, year after year.'
* I request you will not even insinuate such a thing,' cries
Lady Stafford in pretended horror, ' " year after year," why
how long do you mean him to live ? If he don't die soon, I
shall certainly throw up my chance and cut his acquaintance.'
Then with sudden self-reproach, ' Poor old fellow,' she says,
♦ it is a shame to speak of him like this even in jest. He
may Uve for ever aa far as I am concerned. Now tell me