MOLLY BAWN. 171
out it, Cecil'—doubtfully—'I hope when it comes to the
last moment you will have nerve,'
' Be happy,' says CecU, ' I am always quite composed at
last moments; that is one of my principal charms. I never
create Situations through vulgar excitement. I shall pro¬
bably astonish you (and myself also) by my extreme coolness.
In the meantime'—smiling—' I own I should like a glass of
sheiTy, What o'clock is it, Molly ?'
' Just seven,'
' Ah ! he must be here now. How I wish it was over ! *
says Lady Stafford, with a little sinking of the heart,
' And I am not yet dressed, I must run,' exclaims
Molly, * Good-bye, CecU, Keep up your spirits, and
remember above all things how well your dress becomes
Two or three minutes elapse—five, and still Cecil cannot
bring herself to descend. She is more nervous about this
inevitable meeting than she cares to own. Will he be openly
cold, or anxious to conciliate, or annoyed ? The latter she
greatly fears. What if he should suspect her of having
asked Mr, Amherst to invite him ? This idea torments her
more than all the others, and chains her to her room.
She takes up another bracelet and tries it on, DisUking
the effect, she takes it oft' again. So she trifles, in fond hope
of cheating time; and would probably be trifling now had
not the handle of her door been boldly turned, the door
opened, and a young man come confidently forward.
His confidence comes to an untimely end as his astonished
eyes rest on CecU.
' I beg your pardon, I'm sure,' he says, beating a hasty
retreat back to the landing outside, ' I had no idea^I'm
awfully sorry—but this room used to be mine.'
' It is mine now,' says Cecil, accepting the situation at a
glance, and recognising Sir Penthony without hesitation.
He is a taU young man—'lanky,' as she has herself
expressed him—with thick brown hair, closely cropped. He
has handsome dark eyes, with a rather mocking expression
in them, and has a trick of shutting them slightly if puzzled
or annoyed. His voice is extremely charming, though it has
a distinct croak (that can hardly be called husky or hoarse)
that is rather fascinating. His short upper lip is covered by
a heavy brown moustache that hides a laughing mouth. He