286 MOLLY BAWN.
She hands him as she speaks the letter received oy
Philip two months before relative to his unlucky dealings
with some London Jews.
In silence Mr. Amherst reads it; in silence re-reads
it; and finally, foldmg it up again, places it within his
' You and Philip have quarrelled ?' he says presently in
a quiet tone.
' No, there has been no quarrel.'
' Your engagement is at an end ?'
* And is this the result of last night's vaunted pleasures ?
nsts he keenly. ' Have you snatched only pain and a sense
of failure from its fleeting hours ? And Eleanor, too—she
was pale at luncheon, and for once silent—has she too found
her coveted fruit rotten at its core ? It is the universal law,'
says the old man grimly, consoling himself with a pinch of
snuff taken with much deliberation from an exquisite Louis
Quinze box that rests at his elbow, and leaning back
languidly in his chair. ' Life is made up of hopes false as
the ignis faiuus. When with the greatest sense of security
and promise of errjoyment we raise and seek to drain the cup
of pleasure, while yet we gaze with longing eyes upon its
sparkling bubbles, and, stooping thir.-.tily, suffer our expec¬
tant lips at length to touch it, lo ! it is then, just as we have
attained to the summit of our bli.-s, we flnd our sweetest
draught has turned to ashes in our mouth.'
He stops and drums softly on the table for a moment or
two, while Marcia stands before him silently pondering.
' So Philip is already couirting on my death,' he goes on
meditatively, still softly tapping the table. ' How securel;y
he rests in the belief of his succession ! His father's son
could scarcely fail to be a spendthrift, and I will have—no
prodigal—at Herst—to hew—and cut—and scatter. A
goodly heritage truly, as Buscarlet called it. Be satisfied,
IMarcia—your revenge is complete. PhiUp shall not inherit
' I do not seek revenge,' says Marcia unsteadily, now her
wish is fulfilled and Philip hopelessly crushed, a cold, troubled
faiutness creeping round her heari. An awful sense of
dt'spair, a fruitless longing to recall her action, makes her
trejuble. ' Only I could not bear to see you longer deceived