MOLLY BAWN. 173
'The dearest friend I have. I know no one,' declares
her ladyship fervently,' I love so fondly.'
' Happy Lady Stafford ! I almost think I would change
places with her this moment. At all events, whatever
faults she may possess, she has rare taste in friends.'
' You speak disparagingly. Has she a fault ?'
' The greatest a woman can have: she lacks that ono
quaUty that would make her a "joy for ever."'
'Your severity makes you unkind. And yet, do you
know, she is greatly liked. Nay, she has been loved.
Perhaps when you come to know her a little better (I do
not conceal from you that I have heard something of your
story) you will think more tenderly of her. Remember,
" beauty is only skin-deep."'
' Yes,'—with a light laugh—' but " ugliness goes to the
' That is the retort discourteous. I see it is time wasted
to plead my friend's cause. Although, perhaps'—reproach¬
fully—' not blessed with actual beauty, still------*
' No, there's not much beauty about her,' says Sir
Penthony, with something akin to a groan. Then ' I beg
your pardon,' he murmurs; ' pray excuse me. Why should
I trouble a stranger with my affafrs ?' He stands aside,
with a slight bow, to let her pass. ' And you won't tell me
your name ?' he cannot resist saying before losing sight of
' Make haste with your dressing; you shall know then.'
Glancing back at him, with a bewitching smUe,
' Be sure I shall waste no time. If, in my hurry, I
appear to less advantage than usual to-rught, you must not
be the one to blame me.'
* A very fair beginning,' says CecU, as she sUps away.
' Now I must be firm. But, oh dear, oh dear ! he is much
handsomer even than I thought.'