MOLLY BAWN. 281
of affection touched him—now, when the laughter-loving
<J(;cil has changed for him into the feeling, accusing woman;
idthough a woman dead to him, with a heart locked care¬
fully, lest he should enter in.
How can ho tell, as she goes so proudly along tho garden-
path, that her bosom is heaving with shame .and unconfessed
longing, and that down her checks—so f)i-one to dimple with
joyous laughtfa-—the bitter tears are fallirig?
Almost as she reaches tho house she encounters Ted¬
castle, and turns hastily asi(l(^, lest he should mark the
traces of her recent weeping. But so bent is he on his own
dismal thoughts that ho heeds her not, but follows aimlessly
the path before him that leads to the balcony from which
the smaller drawing-room may bo reached.
Ho is depressed and anxiou.s, the night's vigil having
induced him to believe himself somewhat hasty in his con¬
demnation of Molly. As he gains the boudoir he starts, for
thcK! in the room, with the light fiashing warmly on her,
stands Molly Bawn alone.
Sh(! is dressed in a long trailing gown of black velveteen;
an inexijcnsivo dress, but one that suits her admirably, with
its slight adornments of little soft lace frillings at the
thi'oat and wrists.
Pausing irresolutely, Luttrell makes as though he would
retrace his steps.
' Do not go,' says MoUy's voice, clear and firm. ' As
you are here I wish to speak to you.'
She beckons him to come a little nearer to her, and
silently he obeys the gesture. There is a small round table
between them, upon which Molly is leaning rather heavily.
As he apjinjaches, however, and w.aits, gazing curiously at
her for her next word, she straightens herself and compels
bur eyes to meet his.
' Here is your ring,' she says, diMwing the glittering
treasure from her finger and placing it before him.
There is not the extremest trace of excitement or feeling
of any kind in her tone. Luttrell, on the contrary, shrinks
as though touched by fire.
' \\i'v.\} it,' he says involuntarily, colouring darkly.
• Why ?' ho urges. ' It wUl not hurt you, and'—with a