MOLLY BAWN. 161
Although she has had neither hint nor warning of what
was coming, Lady Stafford is a match for him. Mr, Potts's
intelligence of the evening before stands her now in good
' Indeed! * she says, without betraying any former
knowledge, turning eyes of the calmest upon him; ' you
surprise me. Tired so soon of Egyptian sphinxes ! I always
knew he had no taste. I hope he is quite well. I suppose
you heard from him ? *
' Yes. He is well; but evidently pines for home quarters
and old friends. Thinking you would like to see him after
so long a separation, I have invited him here. You—you
don't object ?'
' I ?' says her ladyship promptly reddening, but laughing
too very successfully, ' Now, why should I object ? On the
contrary, I shall be charmed; he will be quite an acquisition.
If I remember rightly'—with a Uttle affected drooping of
the lids—' he is a very handsome man, and, I hear, amusing.'
Mr. Amherst, foiled in his amiable intention of drawing
confusion on the head of somebody, subsides into a grunt and
his easy chair. To have gone to all this trouble for nothing;
to have invited secretly this man, who interests him not at
all, iu hopes of a little excitement, and to have those hopes
frustrated, disgusts him.
Yet after all there will, there must be some amusement
in store for him, in watching the meeting between this
strange pair. He at least may not prove as cool and
indifferent as his pretty wife,
' He will be here to dinner to-day,' he says grumpishly,
knowing that all around him are inwardly rejoicing at his
This is a thunderbolt, though he is too much disheartened
by his first defeat to notice it. Lady Stafford grows several
shades paler, and — luncheon being at an end — rises
hurriedly. Going towards the door, she glances back, and
draws Molly by a look to her side,
' Come with me,' she says; ' I must speak to someone,
and to you before any of the others.'
When they have reached Cecil's pretty sitting-room, off
which her bedroom opens, the first thing her ladyship does is
to subside into a seat and laugh a Uttle.
'It is like a play,' she says, ' the idea of his coming down