MOLLY BAWN. 175
Drawing him into a recess of the window, she says re¬
proachfully, ' Why do you look so astonished ? Do you not
know you are gratifying that abominable old man ? And
wUl you not say you are glad to see me after aU these long
three years ?'
' I don't understand,' Sir Penthony says vaguely,
' Are there two Lady Staffords? And whose wife are you ? *
' Yours ! Although you don't seem in a hurry to claim
me,' she says, with a rarely pretty pout,
* Impossible !'
* I am sorry to undeceive you, but it is indeed the truth
' And whose picture did I get ?' he asks, a faint glimmer
of the real facts breaking in upon him,
' The parlour-maid's,' says CecU, now the strain is off her
laughing heartily and naturally—so much so that the other
occupants of the room turn to wonder enviously what is
going on behind the curtains, ' The parlour-maid! And
such a girl as she was ! Do you remember her nose ? It
was celestial. When that deed on which we agreed was
sealed, signed, and delivered, without hope of change, I
meant to send you my real photo, but somehow I didn't, I
waited until we should meet; and now we have met, and------
Why do you look so disconsolate ? Surely, surely I am an
improvement on Mary Jane ?'
' It isn't that,' he says, ' but—what a fool I have
' You have indeed,' quickly. * The idea of letting that
odious old man see your discomfiture! By the by, does my
" ugliness go to the bone," Sir Penthony ?'
' Don't! When I realise my position I hate myself.'
' Could you not even see my hair was yellow, whUst Mary
Jane's was black—a sooty black ?'
* How could I see anything ? Your veil was so thick;
and besides, I never once doubted the truth of------'
' Oh, that veil! What trouble I had with it!' laughs
CecU, ' First I doubled it, and then nearly died of fright
lest you should imagine me the Pig-faced Lady, and insist ou
' WeU, and if I had ?'
' Without doubt you would have fallen in love with me,'