MOLLY BAWN. 151
' She does it uncommonly well, then,' says Philip, regard¬
ing Mrs, Darley with much admiration, ' imcommonly well j
her maid must be a treasure,'
' But why 1 Is she older than that ?'
' I don't know, I'm sure,' says Philip, unkindly, with an
amused smile, 'she used to be my age, but I haven't the
faintest idea in the world what she is—now !'
After one or two more playful sallies on the part of their
host—for having once found his tongue, he takes very good
care to use it and appears fatally bent on making his hearers
well aware of its restoration—the ladies adjourn to the
drawing-room; where Mrs. Darley instantly retires behind
her handkerchief, and gives way to a gentle sob.
' That detestable old man,' she says, viciously, ' how I
hate him ! What have I done, that he should treat me with
such exceeding rudeness ? One would think I was as old as
—as—Methuselah ! Not that his mentioning my age puts
me out in the least—why should it ?—only his manner is so
As she finishes she rolls up the corners of her handker¬
chief into a little point, and carefully picks out, one by one,
the two tears that adorn her eyes, lest by any chance they
should escape, and, running down her cheeks, destroy the
'Don't distress yourself about it, Maud,' says Lady
Stafford, kindly, although strongly divided between pity for
the angry Maud, and a growing desire to laugh; nobody
minds him, you know we all suffer in turn. Something tells
me it will be my turn next, and then you will indeed see a
noble example of fortitude under affliction.'
There is no time for more, the door opens and the men
come in, more speedily to-night than is their wont, no doubt
driven thereto by the amiability of Mr. Amherst,
Maud suppresses the tell-tale handkerchief, and puts on
such a sweet smile as utterly precludes the idea of chagrin.
The men, with the usual amount of bunghng, fall into their
places, and Cecil seizes the opportunity to say to Marcia in a
' You say Miss Massereene sings. Ask her to give us
something now. It is so slow doing nothing all the evening,
and I feel Mr, Amherst is bent on mischief. Besides it is
hard on you, expecting you to play all the night through,'