294 MOLLY BAWN.
and bilUard rooms, into the drawing-room, where the paper
has been left.
All the lamps have been extingiushed, leaving the apart¬
ment, which is immense, steeped in darkness. Coming into
it from the brilliantly lighted hall outside, with only a candle
in her hand, the gloom seems even greater, and overcomes
her sight to such a degree that she has traversed at least
one-half its length before she discovers she is not its only
Seated before a writing-table, with his hand, indeed,
upon the very blotting-book she seeks, and with only another
candle simUar to hers to lend him light, sits Luttrell,
As her eyes meet his she starts, colours violently, and is
for the moment utterly abashed.
Involuntarily she glances down at the soft blue dressing-
gown she wears, over which her hair—brushed and arranged
for the night—faUs in soft, rippling, gold-brown masses, and
from thence to the little naked feet that peep ojit shamelessly
from their blue sUppers.
The crimson blood rises to her face. Covered with a
painful though pretty confusion she stands quite stiU and
lets her telltale eyes seek the ground.
Luttrell has risen, and without any particular design has
advanced towards her. Perhaps the force of habit compels
him to do so, perhaps intense and not altogether welcome
surprise. For the future to see her is but to add one more
pang to his intolerable regret.
' I was writing to you,' he says, indicating, with a sUght
movement of the hand, the chair on which he has been
sitting, and thus breaking the awful sUence which threatens
to last until next day, so mute has Molly grown. With a
delicate sense of chivalry he endeavours to appear obUvious
of her rather scanty and disconcerting—-however becoming—
costume. ' But as it is perhaps I may as well say to you
what is on my mind—if you will permit me.'
' I cannot forbid your speech.' Coldly.
* I wiU not keep you long. But—' with a slight, almost
imperceptible, glance at her di-essing-gown—'perhaps you
are in a hurry ?'
' I am—rather,' At this juncture, had they been friends,
Molly would undoubtedly have laughed. As it is she is