148 MOLLY BAWN.
something about yourself, and do take a more comfortable
chair, you don't look half cosy,'
' Don't make me too comfortable, or perhaps I shall bore
you to death with the frequency of my visits. You will
have me again to-morrow if you don't take care.'
' Well, I hope so. Remember you have carte blanche to
come here whenever you choose, I was fast falling into the
blues when I heard your knock, so you may fancy how wel¬
come you were, almost as welcome as my cousin,'
'Marcia?' asks Molly, feeling slightly disappointed at
the ' almost,'
' Oh ! dear no—not Marcia, she and I don't get on a bit
too well together, and she was excessively disagreeable all
this morning; she is her grandfather's own child, I am sure
she need not visit Phihp's defection on me, but she has a
horrible temper, and that's the truth. No—I meant Ted¬
castle, he is my cousin also. I do so like Tedcastle—don't
' Very much indeed,' colouring faintly, ' But,' hastily,
' I have not yet told you what brought me here to-day,'
' Do you mean to tell me you had an object in coming ?'
cries her ladyship, throwing up her little white jewelled hands
in affected reproach. ' That something keener than a desire
for my society has brought you to my boudoir ? You reduce
me to despair ! I did for one short quarter of an hour believe
you " loved me for myself alone."'
' No,' laughing, and blushing, too, all through her pale
clear skin, ' I confess to the object. I—the fact is—I have
felt a little deceitful ever since last night. Because—in spite
of Marcia's superior information on the subject, I have had
some slight education, and I do know a little French !'
' Ah !' cries Lady Stafford, rising and blushing herself, a
vivid crimson, ' you heard, you understood all. Well,' with
a sudden revival, and a happy remembrance of her own words,
' I didn't say anything bad—did I ?'
' No, no, I would not have come here, if you had. You
said all there was of the kindest. You were so kind, I could
not bear to deceive you, or let you retain a false opinion of
me. IMarcia, indeed, outdid herself, though I am guiltless of
oflence towards her. She is evidently not aware of the fact,
that one part of my life was spent in London with my aunt,
my father's sister, and that while with her I had the best