2/8 HOLLY BAWN.
other woman but yourself would consent to live as you do.
A wife, and yet no wife !'
' Mr. Lowry,' says Lady Stafford with much dignity but
perfect temper, ' you forget yourself I must really beg you
not to discuss my private affairs. The life I lead might not
suit vou or any single one of your accpiaiirtairce, but it suits
me, and that is everything. You say I am " cold," and yon
are right—I am. I fancied (wrongly) my acknowledged
coldness would have prevented such a scene as I have lieen
forced to listen to, lny you, to-day. You are the first who has
ever dared to insult me. You are, indeed, the first man who
has ever been at my feet, metaphorically speaking or other¬
wise ; and I sincerely trust,' says Lady Stafford, with pro¬
found earnestness, ' you may be the last, for anythmg more
unpleasant I never experienced.'
' Have you no pity for me ?' cries he passionately.
' Why need you scorn my love 1 Every word you utter
tears my heart, and you—you care no more than if I were a
dog ! Have you no feeling ? Do you never wish to be as
other women are, beloved and loving, instead of being, as
' Ac;ain, sir, I must ask you to allow my private life to
be private,' says Cecil, still with admirable temper, although
her colour has faded a good deal, and the fingers of one hand
have closed convulsively upon a fold of her dress. ' I may,
perhaps, pity you, but I can feel nothirrg but contempt for
the love you offer, that would lower the thing it loves!'
' Not lower it,' says he quickly, grasping eagerly at what
he vainly hopes is a last chance. ' Under the circumstances
a divorce could be easily obtained. If you would trust
yourself to me there should be no delay. You might easily
bi'cak this marriage tie that can scarcely be considered
'And supposing—I do not wish to break it? How
theu ? But enough of this. I cannot listen any longer. I
have heard too much already. I must really ask you to
leave me. Go.'
' Is this how your friendships end ?' asks he bitterly.
' Will you deny I was even so much to you ?'
' Certainly not. Though I must add that had I known
fry friendship with you would have put me in the way of
so much insult as I have received to-day you