276 MOLLY PAWN.
and ask her to leave, for him, a husband who has never been
more to her than an ordinary acquaintance, and to renounce
a name that can have no charms for her, being devoid of
tender recoUections or sacred memories, seems to him, in his
present overstrained condition, a very light thing indeed.
In return, he argues feverishly, he can give her the entire
devotion of a heart, and, what is perhap.s a more practical
offer, a larger income than she can now command.
Then, in the present day, what so easily, or quietly, or sa¬
tisfactorily arranged as a divorce in high life, leaving behind
it neither spot nor scar, nor anything unpleasant in the way
of social ostracism ? And this might—nay, should follow.
Like Molly he has lain awake since early dawn arranging
plans and rehearsing speeches ; and now, after breakfast, as
he walks beside the object of his adoration through the
shrubberies and outer v\-alks into the gardens beyond, carried
away by the innate vanity of him, and his foolish self-esteem,
and not dreaming of defeat, he decides that the time ha.<i
come to give voice to his folly.
They are out of view of the windows, Vv'ben he stops
abruptly and siys rashly—with a pale face, it is true, but
a certain amount of composure that bespeaks confidence:
' Cecil, I can keep silence no longer. Let me speak to you,
and tell you all that is in my heart.'
' He has fallen in love with Molly.' thinks Cecil, wonder¬
ing vaguely at the manner of hi^; address, he ha-^dng never
attempted to call her by her Christiair name before.
' You are in love ?' she says kindly, but rather uncer¬
tainly, not being able at the moment to call to mind any
tender glances of his cast at Molly or any suspicious situa¬
tions that might confirm her in her fancy.
' Need you ask ?' s.ays Lowry, taking her hand, feeling
still further emboldened by the gentleness with which she
has received his first advance. ' Have not all these months,
r.ay, this year past, taiifjht you so much ?'
'" This year past ? "' CecU repeats, honestly at sea, and
too much surprised by the heat of his manner to grasp at
once the real meaning of his words. Though I think a
second later a faint inkling of it comes to her, because she
releases her hand quickly from his clasp and her voice takes
a sharper tone. 'I do not understand you,' she .says,
' Take care you understand—yourself.'