The Art-Music, Literature and Linguistics Forum

Our Library => Mrs. Humphry Ward - Delia Blanchflower (1915) => Topic started by: Admin on November 25, 2022, 11:37:54 am



Title: Chapter VII
Post by: Admin on November 25, 2022, 11:37:54 am

A SMALL expectant party were gathered for afternoon tea in the book-lined sitting-room---the house possessed no proper drawing-room---of Bridge End. Mrs. Matheson, indeed, Mark's widowed sister, would have resented it had anyone used the word "party" in its social sense. Miss Blanchflower's father had been dead scarcely a month; and Mrs. Matheson, in her quiet way, held strongly by all the decencies of life. It was merely a small gathering of some of the oldest friends and neighbours of Miss Blanchflower's family---those who had stood nearest to her grandparents---to welcome the orphan girl among them. Lady Tonbridge---of whom it was commonly believed, though no one exactly knew why, that Bob Blanchflower as a youth had been in love with her, before ever he met his Greek wife; Dr. France, who had attended both the old people till their deaths, and had been much beloved by them; his wife; the Rector, Mrs. Amberley, and Susy:---Mrs. Matheson had not intended to ask anyone else. But the Andrews had asked themselves, and she had not had the moral courage to tell them that the occasion was not for them. She was always getting Mark into difficulties, she penitently reflected, by her inability to say No, at the right time, and with the proper force. Mark could always say it, and stick to it smiling---without giving offence.

Mrs. Matheson was at the tea-table. She was tall and thin, with something of her brother's good looks, but none of his over-flowing vitality. Her iron-grey hair was rolled back from her forehead; she wore a black dress with a high collar of white lawn, and long white cuffs. Little Mrs. Amberley, the Rector's wife, sitting beside her, envied her hostess her figure, and her long slender neck. She herself had long since parted with any semblance of a waist, and the boned collars of the day were a perpetual torment to one whose neck, from the dressmaker's point of view, scarcely existed. But Mrs. Amberley endured them, because they were the fashion; and to be moderately in the fashion meant simply keeping up to the mark---not falling behind. It was like going to church---an acceptance of that "general will" which, according to the philosophers, is the guardian of all religion and all morality.

The Rector too, who was now handing the tea-cake, believed in fashion---ecclesiastical fashion. Like his wife, he was gentle and ineffective. His clerical dress expressed a moderate Anglicanism, and his opinions were those of his class and neighbourhood, put for him day by day in his favourite newspaper, with a cogency at which he marvelled. Yet he was no more a hypocrite than his wife, and below his commonplaces both of manner and thought there lay warm feelings and a quick conscience. He was just now much troubled about his daughter Susy. The night before she had told her mother and him that she wished to go to London, to train for nursing. It had been an upheaval in their quiet household. Why should she dream of such a thing? How could they ever get on without her? Who would copy out his sermons, or help with the schools? And her mother---so dependent on her only daughter! The Rector's mind was much disturbed, and he was accordingly more absent and more ineffective than usual.

Susy herself, in a white frock, with touches of blue at her waist and in her shady hat, was moving about with cups of tea, taking that place of Mrs. Matheson's lieutenant which was always tacitly given her by Winnington and his sister on festal occasions at Bridge End. As she passed Winnington, who had been captured by Mrs. Andrews, he turned with alacrity---

"My dear Miss Susy! What are you doing? Give me that cup!"

"No---please! I like doing it!" And she passed on, smiling, towards Lady Tonbridge, whose sharp eyes had seen the trivial contact between Winnington and the girl. How the mere sound of his voice had changed the aspect of the young face! Poor child---poor child!

"How well you look, Susy! Such a pretty dress!" said Madeleine tenderly in the girl's ear.

Susy flushed. "You really think so? Mother gave it me for a birthday present." She looked up with her soft brown eyes, which always seemed to have in them, even when they smiled, a look of pleading---as of someone at a disadvantage. At the same moment Winnington passed her.

"Could you go and talk to Miss Andrews?" he said, over his shoulder, so that only she heard.

Susy went obediently across the room to where a silent, dark-haired girl sat by herself, quite apart from the rest of the circle. Marion Andrews was plain, with large features and thick wiry hair. Maumsey society in general declared her "impossible." She rarely talked; she seemed to have no tastes; and the world believed her both stupid and disagreeable. And by contrast with the effusive amiabilities of her mother, she could appear nothing else. Mrs. Andrews indeed had a way of using her daughter as a foil to her own qualities, which must have paralysed the most self-confident, and Marion had never possessed any belief in herself at all.

As Susy Amberley timidly approached her, and began to make conversation, she looked up coldly, and hardly answered. Meanwhile Mrs. Andrews was pouring out a flood of talk under which the uncomfortable Winnington---for it always fell to him as host to entertain her---sat practising endurance. She was a selfish, egotistical woman, with a vast command of sloppy phrases, which did duty for all that real feeling or sympathy of which she possessed uncommonly little. On this occasion she was elaborately dressed---over-dressed---in a black satin gown, which seemed to Winnington an ugly miracle of trimming and tortured "bits." Her large hat was thick with nodding plumes, and beside her spotless white gloves and showy lace scarf, her daughter's slovenly coat and skirt, of the cheapest ready-made kind, her soiled gloves, and clumsy shoes, struck even a man uncomfortably. That poor girl seemed to grow plainer and more silent every year.

He was just shaking himself free from the mother, when Dr. and Mrs. France were announced. The doctor came in with a furrowed brow and a pre-occupied look. After greeting Mrs. Matheson, and the other guests, he caught a glance of enquiry from Winnington and went up to him.

"The evening paper is full of the most shocking news!" he said, with evident agitation. "There has been an attempt on Hampton Court---and two girls who were caught breaking windows in Piccadilly have been badly hurt by the crowd. A bomb too has been found in the entrance of one of the Tube stations. It was discovered in time, or the results might have been frightful."

"Good Heavens!---those women again!" cried Mrs. Andrews, lifting hands and eyes.

No one else spoke. But in everyone's mind the same thought emerged. At any moment the door might open, and Delia Blanchflower and her chaperon might come in.

The doctor drew Winnington aside into a bow-window. "Did you know that the lady living with Miss Blanchflower is a member of this League of Revolt?"

"Yes. You mean they are implicated in these things?"

"Certainly! I am told Miss Marvell was once an official---probably is still. My dear Winnington---you can't possibly allow it!" He spoke with the freedom of an intimate friend.

"How can I stop it?" said Winnington, frowning. "My ward is of age. If Miss Marvell does anything overt---- But she has promised to do nothing violent down here---they both have."

The doctor, an impetuous Ulsterman, with white hair and black eyes, shrugged his shoulders impatiently. "When women once take to this kind of thing----"

He was interrupted by Mrs. Andrews' heavy voice rising above the rather nervous and disjointed conversation of the other guests---"If women only knew where their real power lies, Mrs. Matheson! Why, 'the hand that rocks the cradle'----"

A sudden slight crash was heard.

"Oh dear"---cried Lady Tonbridge, who had upset a small table with a plate of cakes on it across the tail of Mrs. Andrews' dress---"how stupid I am!"

"My gown!---my gown!" cried Mrs. Andrews in an anguish, groping for the cakes.

In the midst of the confusion the drawing-room door had opened, and there on the threshold stood Delia Blanchflower, with a slightly built lady behind her.

Winnington turned with a start and went forward to greet them. Dr. France, left behind in the bow-window, observed their entry with a mingling of curiosity and repulsion. It seemed to him that their entry was that of persons into a hostile camp,---the senses all alert against attack. Delia was of course in black, her face sombrely brilliant in its dark setting of a plain felt hat, like the hat of a Cavalier without its feathers.

"She knows perfectly well we have been talking about her!" thought Dr. France,---"that we have seen the newspapers. She comes in ready for battle---perhaps thirsting for it! She is excited---while the woman behind her is perfectly cool. The two types!---the enthusiast---and the fanatic. But, by Jove, the girl is handsome!"

Through the sudden silence created by their entry, Delia made her way to Mrs. Matheson. Holding her head very high, she introduced "My chaperon---Miss Marvell." And Winnington's sister nervously shook hands with the quietly smiling lady who followed in Miss Blanchflower's wake. Then while Delia sat down beside the hostess, and Winnington busied himself in supplying her with tea, her companion fell to the Rector's care.

The Rector, like Winnington, was not a gossip, partly out of scruple, but mainly perhaps because of a certain deficient vitality, and he had but disjointed ideas on the subject of the two ladies who had now settled at the Abbey. He understood, however, that Delia, whom he remembered as a child, was a Suffragette, and that Mr. Winnington, Delia's guardian, disapproved of the lady she had brought with her---why, he could not recollect. This vague sense of something "naughty" and abnormal gave a certain tremor to his manner as he stood beside Gertrude Marvell, shifting from one foot to the other, and nervously plying her with tea-cake.

Miss Marvell's dark eyes meanwhile glanced round the room, taking in everybody. They paused a moment on the figure of the doctor, erect and spare in a closely buttoned coat, on his spectacled face, and conspicuous brow, under waves of nearly white hair; then passed on. Dr. France watched her, following the examining eyes with his own. He saw them change, with a look---the slightest passing look---of recognition, and at the same moment he was aware of Marion Andrews, sitting in the light of a side window. What had happened to the girl? He saw her dark face, for one instant, exultant, transformed; like some forest hollow into which a sunbeam strikes. The next, she was stooping over a copy of Punch which lay on the table beside her. A rush of speculation ran through the doctor's mind.

"And you are settled at Maumsey?" Mrs. Matheson was saying to Delia; aware as soon as the question was uttered that it was a foolish one.

"Oh no, not settled. We shall be there a couple of months."

"The house will want some doing up, Mark thinks."

"I don't think so. Not much, anyway. It does very well."

There was an entire absence of girlish softness or shyness in the speaker's manner, though it was both courteous and easy. The voice---musically deep---and the splendid black eyes, that looked so steadily at her, intimidated Mark Winnington's gentle sister.

Mrs. Andrews, whose dress, after Susy's ministration, had been declared out of danger, bent across the tea-table, all smiles and benevolence again, the plumes in her black hat nodding---

"It's like old times to have the Abbey open again, Miss Blanchflower! Every week we used to go to your dear grandmother, for her Tuesday work-party. I'm afraid you'll hardly revive that!"

Delia brought a rather intimidating brow to bear upon the speaker. "I'm afraid not."

Lady Tonbridge, who had already greeted Delia as a woman naturally greets the daughter of an old friend, came up as Delia spoke, to ask for a second cup of tea, and laid her hand on the girl's shoulder.

"Very sorry to miss you yesterday. I won't insult you by saying you've grown. How about the singing? You used to sing, I remember, when I stayed with you."

"Yes---but I've given it up. I took lessons at Munich last spring. But I can't work at it enough. And if one can't work, it's no good."

"Why can't you work at it?"

Delia suddenly looked up in her questioner's face. Her gravity broke up in a broad smile.

"Because there's so much else to do!"

"What else?"

The look of excited defiance in the girl's eyes sharpened. "Do you really want to know?"

"Certainly. The Suffrage and that kind of thing?" said Madeleine Tonbridge lightly.

"The Suffrage and that kind of thing!" repeated Delia, still smiling.

Captain Andrews, who was standing near, and whose martial mind was all in confusion owing to Miss Blanchflower's beauty, put in an eager word.

"I never can understand, Miss Blanchflower, why you ladies want the vote! Why, you can twist us round your little fingers!"

Delia turned upon him. "But I don't want to twist you round my little finger!" she said, with energy. "It wouldn't give me the smallest pleasure."

"I thought you wanted to manage us," said the Captain, unable to take his eyes from her. "But you do manage us already!"

Delia's glance shewed her uncertain whether the foe was worth her steel. "We want to manage ourselves," she said at last, smiling indifferently. "We say you do it badly."

The Captain attempted to spar with her a little longer. Winnington meanwhile stood, a silent listener, amid the group round the tea-table. He---and Dr. France---were both acutely conscious of the realities behind this empty talk; of the facts recorded in the day's newspapers; and of the connection between the quiet lady in grey who had come in with Delia Blanchflower, and the campaign of public violence, which was now in good earnest alarming and exasperating the country.

Where was the quiet lady in grey? Winnington was thinking too much about his ward to keep a constant eye upon her. But Dr. France observed her closely, and he presently saw what puzzled him anew. After a conversation, exceedingly bland, though rather monosyllabic, on Miss Marvell's part, with the puzzled and inarticulate Rector, Delia's chaperon had gently and imperceptibly moved away from the tea-table. That she had been very coldly received by the company in general was no doubt evident to her. She was now sitting beside that strange girl Marion Andrews---to whom, as the Doctor had seen, she had been introduced---apparently---by the Rector. And as Dr. France caught sight of her, she and Marion Andrews rose and walked to a window opening on the garden, as though to look at the blaze of autumn flowers outside.

But it was the demeanour of the girl which again drew the Doctor's attention. Marion Andrews, who never talked, was talking fast and earnestly to this complete stranger, her normally sallow face one glow. It was borne in afresh upon Dr. France that the two were already acquainted; and he continued to watch them as closely as politeness allowed.

------

"Will you come and look at the house?" said Winnington to his ward. "Not that we have anything to shew---except a few portraits and old engravings that might interest you. But it's rather a dear old place, and we're very fond of it."

Delia went with him in silence. He opened the oval panelled dining-room, and shewed her the portrait of his father, the venerable head of an Oxford college, in the scarlet robes of a D.D., and others representing his forebears on both sides---quiet folk, painted by decent but not important painters. Delia looked at them and hardly spoke. Then they went into Mrs. Matheson's room, which was bright with pretty chintzes, books and water-colours, and had a bow-window looking on the garden. Still Delia said nothing, beyond an absent Yes or No, or a perfunctory word of praise. Winnington became very soon conscious of some strong tension in her, which was threatening to break down; a tension evidently of displeasure and resentment. He guessed what the subject of it might be, but as he was most unwilling to discuss it with her, if his guess were correct, he tried to soothe and evade her by such pleasant talk as the different rooms suggested. The house through which he led her was the home, evidently, of a man full of enthusiasms and affections, caring intensely for many things, for his old school, of which there were many drawings and photographs in the hall and passages, for the two great games in which he himself excelled; for poetry and literature---the house overflowed everywhere with books; for his County Council work, and all the projects connected with it; for his family and his intimate friends.

"Who is that?" asked Delia, pointing to a charcoal drawing, in Mrs. Matheson's sitting-room, of a noble-faced woman of thirty, in a delicate evening dress of black and white.

"That is my mother. She died the year after it was taken."

Delia looked at it in silence a moment. There was something in its dignity, its restfulness, its touch of austerity which challenged her. She said abruptly---

"I want to speak to you, please, Mr. Winnington. May we shut the door?"

Winnington shut the door of his sister's room, and returned to his guest. Delia had turned very white.

"I hear, Mr. Winnington, you have reversed an order I wrote to our agent about one of the cottages. May I know your reasons?"

"I was very sorry to do so," said Winnington gently; "but I felt sure you did not understand the real circumstances, and I could not come and discuss them with you."

Delia stood stormily erect, and the level light of the October afternoon streaming in through a west window magnified her height, and her prophetess air.

"I can't help shocking you, Mr. Winnington. I don't accept what you say. I don't believe that covering up horrible things makes them less horrible. I want to stand by that girl. It is cruel to separate her from her old father!"

Winnington looked at her in distress and embarrassment.

"The story is not what you think it," he said earnestly. "But it is really not fit for your ears. I have given great thought and much time to it, yesterday and to-day. The girl---who is mentally deficient---will be sent to a Home and cared for. The father sees now that it is the best. Please trust it to me."

"Why mayn't I know the facts?" persisted Delia, paler than before.

A flash of some quick feeling passed through Winnington's eyes. "Why should you? Leave us older folk, dear Miss Delia, to deal with these sorrowful things."

Indignation blazed up in her. "It is for women to help women," she said, passionately. "It is no good treating us who are grown up---even if we are young---like children any more. We intend to know---that we may protect---and save."

"I assure you," said Winnington gravely, "that this poor girl shall have every care---every kindness. So there is really no need for you to know. Please spare yourself---and me!"

He had come to stand by her, looking down upon her. She lifted her eyes to his unwillingly, and as she caught his smile she was invaded by a sudden consciousness of his strong magnetic presence. The power in the grey eyes, and in the brow overhanging them, the kind sincerity mingled with the power, and the friendliness that breathed from his whole attitude and expression, disarmed her. She felt herself for a moment---and for the first time---young and ignorant,---and that Winnington was ready to be in the true and not merely in the legal sense, her "guardian," if she would only let him.

But the moment of weakening was soon over. Her mind chafed and twisted. Why had he undertaken it---a complete stranger to her? It was most embarrassing---detestable---for them both!

And there suddenly darted through her memory the recollection of a certain item in her father's will. Under it Mr. Winnington received a sum of 4000 out of her father's estate, "in consideration of our old friendship, and of the trouble I am asking him to undertake in connection with my estates,"---or words to that effect.

Somehow, she had never yet paid much attention to that clause in the will. It occurred in a list of a good many other legacies, and had been passed over by the lawyers in explaining the will to her, as something entirely in the natural course of things. But the poisonous thought suggested itself---"It was that which bribed him!---he would have given it up, but for that!" He might not want it for himself---very possibly!---but for his charities, his Cripple School and the rest. Her face stiffened.

"If you have arranged with her father, of course I can't interfere," she said coldly. "But don't imagine, please, Mr. Winnington, for one moment, that I accept your view of the things I 'needn't know.' If I am to do my duty to the people on this estate----"

"I thought you weren't going to live on the estate?" he said, lifting his eyebrows.

"Not at once---not this winter." She was annoyed to feel herself stammering. "But of course I have a responsibility----"

The kindly laugh in his grey eyes faded. "Yes---I quite admit that,---a great responsibility," he said slowly. "Do you mind if I mention another subject?"

"The meetings?" she said quickly. "You mean that?"

"Yes---the meetings. I have just seen the placard in the village."

"Well?"

Her loveliness in defiance dazzled him, but he held on stoutly. "You said nothing to me about these meetings the other day."

"You never asked me!"

He paused a moment. "No---but was it quite---quite fair to me---to let me suppose that the drawing-room meeting at Maumsey, which you kindly gave up, was the only meeting you had in view?"

He saw her breath fluttering.

"I don't know what you supposed, Mr. Winnington! I said nothing."

"No. But you let me draw an inference---a mistaken inference. However---let that be. Can I not persuade you---now---to give up the Latchford meeting, and any others of the same kind you may have ahead?"

She flamed at him. "I refuse to give them up!" she said, setting her teeth. "I have as much right to my views as you, Mr. Winnington! I am of full age, and I intend to work for them."

"Setting fire to houses---which is what your society is advocating---and doing---hardly counts as 'views,'" he said, with sudden sternness. "Risking the lives, or spoiling the property of one's fellow countrymen, is not the same thing as political argument."

"It's our argument"---she said passionately---"The men who are denying us the vote understand nothing else!"

The slightest humorous quiver in Winnington's strong mouth enraged her still further. But he spoke with most courteous gravity.

"Then I can't persuade you to give up these meetings? I should of course make no objection whatever, if these were ordinary Suffrage meetings. But the Society you are going to represent and collect money for is a Society that exists to break the law. And its members have---just lately---come conspicuously into collision with the law. Your father would have protested, and I am bound to protest---in his name."

"I cannot give them up."

He was silent a moment. "If that is so"---he said at last---"I must do my best to protect you."

"I don't want any protection!"

"I am a magistrate, as well as your guardian. You must allow me to judge. There is a very bitter feeling abroad, after these ---outrages---of the last few days. The town where you are going to speak has some rowdy elements---drawn from the brickfields near it. You will certainly want protection. I shall see that you get it."

He spoke with decision. Delia bit her lip. "We prefer to risk our lives," she said at last. "I mean---there isn't any risk!---but if there were---our lives are nothing in comparison with the cause!"

"You won't expect your friends to agree with you," he said drily; then, still holding her with an even keener look, he added---

"And there is another point in connection with these meetings which distresses me. I see that you are speaking on the same platform---with Mr. Paul Lathrop----"

"And why not?"---she flashed, the colour rushing to her cheeks.

He paused, walked away with his hands in his pockets, and came back again. "I have been making some enquiries about him. He is not a man with whom you ought to associate---either in public, or in private."

She gave a sound---half scorn---half indignation, which startled him. "You mean---because of the divorce case?"

He looked at her amazed. "That is what I meant. But---I certainly do not wish to discuss it with you. Will you not take it from me that Mr. Lathrop is not---cannot be---a man whom as a young unmarried woman you ought to receive in your house---or with whom you should be seen in public?"

"No, indeed I won't take it from you!" she said passionately. "Miss Marvell knows---Miss Marvell told me. He ran away with someone he loved. Her husband was vile! But she couldn't get any help---because of the law---the abominable law---which punishes women---and lets men go free. So they went away together, and after a little she died. Alter your law, Mr. Winnington!---make it equal for men and women---and then we'll talk."

As she spoke---childishly defiant---Winnington's mind was filled with a confusion of clashing thoughts---the ideals of his own first youth which made such a speech in the mouth of a girl of twenty-one almost intolerable to him---and the moral convictions---slowly gained---of his maturity. He agreed with what she said. And yet it was shocking to him to hear her say it.

"I don't quarrel with you as to that," he said, gravely, after a moment. "Though I confess that in my belief you are too young to have any real opinion about it. But there was much in the case which concerned Mr. Lathrop, of which you can have no idea. I repeat---he is not a fit companion for you---and you do yourself harm by appearing with him---in public or private."

"Miss Marvell approves"---said Delia obstinately.

Winnington's look grew sterner. "I appeal again to your father's memory," he said, with energy.

He perceived her quickened breath, but she made no reply.

He walked away from her, and stood looking out of the window for a little. When he came back to her, it was with a change of manner and subject. "I should like you to understand that I have been doing all I could to carry out your wishes with regard to the cottages."

He drew a paper out of his pocket, on which he had made some notes representing his talk that morning with the agent of the Maumsey estates. But in her suppressed excitement she hardly listened to him.

"It isn't exactly business, what we've done," he said at last, as he put up the papers; "but we wanted you to have your way---about the old woman---and the family of children." He smiled at her. "And the estate can afford it."

Delia thanked him ungraciously. She felt like a child who is offered sixpence for being good at the dentist's. It was his whole position towards her---his whole control and authority---that she resented. And to be forced to be grateful to him at the same time, compelled to recognise the anxious pains he had taken to please her in nine-tenths of the things she wanted, was really odious: she could only chafe under it.

He took her back to the drawing-room. Delia walked before him in silence. She was passionately angry; and yet beneath the stormy currents of the upper mind, there were other feelings, intermittently active. It was impossible to hate him!---impossible to help liking him. His frankness and courtesy, his delicacy of feeling and touch forced themselves on her notice. "I dare say!"---said wrath;---"but that's the worst of it. If Papa hadn't done this fatal, foolish thing, of course we should have made friends!"

------

The Amberleys walked home together when the party dispersed. Mrs. Amberley opened the discussion on the newcomers. "She is certainly handsome, but rather bold-looking. Didn't you think so, father?"

"I wasn't drawn to her. But she took no account of us," said the Rector, with his usual despondent candour. In truth he was not thinking about Miss Blanchflower, but only about the possible departure of his daughter, Susy.

"I thought her beautiful!---but I'm sorry for Mr. Winnington!" exclaimed Susy, a red spot of excitement or indignation in each delicate cheek.

"Mrs. Matheson told me they will only do exactly what they wish---that they won't take her brother's advice. Very wrong, very wrong." The Rector shook his grey head. "Young women were different in my youth."

Mrs. Amberley sighed, and Susy, biting her lip, knew that her own conduct was perhaps more in question than Miss Blanchflower's.

They reached home in silence. Susy went to light her father's candles in his modest book-littered study. Then she put her mother on the sofa in the drawing-room, rubbed Mrs. Amberley's cold hands and feet, and blew up the fire.

Suddenly her mother threw an arm round her neck. "Oh, Susy, must you go?"

Susy kissed her. "I should come back"---she said after a moment, in a low troubled voice. "Let me get this training, and then if you want me, darling, I'll come back."

"Can't you be happy with us, Susy?"

"I want to know something---and do something," said Susy, with intensity---evading the question. "It's such a big world, mother! I'll be better worth having afterwards."

Mrs. Amberley said nothing. But a little later she went into her husband's study.

"Frank---I think we'll have to let her," she said piteously.

The Rector looked up assentingly, and put his hand in his wife's.

"It's strange how different it all seems nowadays," said Mrs. Amberley, in her low quavering voice. "If I'd wanted to do what Susy wants, my mother would have called me a wicked girl to leave all my duties---and I shouldn't have dared. But we can't take it like that, Frank, somehow."

"No," said the Rector slowly. "In the old days it used to be only duties for the young---now it's rights too. It's God's will."

"Susy loves us, Frank. She's a good girl."

"She's a good girl---and she shall do what she thinks proper," said the Rector, rising heavily.

So they gave their consent, and Susy wrote her application to Guy's Hospital. Then they all three lay awake a good deal of the night,---almost till the autumn robin began to sing in the little rectory garden.

As for Susy, in the restless intervals of restless sleep she was always back in the Bridge End drawing-room watching Delia Blanchflower come in, with Mark Winnington behind. How glorious she looked! And every day he would be seeing her, every day he would be thinking about her---just because she was sure to give him so much trouble.

"And what right have you to complain?" she asked herself, trampling on her own pain. Had he ever said a word of love to her, ever shewn himself anything else than the kind and sympathetic friend---sometimes the inspiring teacher, in the causes he had at heart? Never! And yet---insensibly---his smile, his word of praise or thanks, the touch of his firm warm hand, the sound of his voice, the look in his eyes---it was for them she had now learnt to live. Yes!---and because she could no longer trust herself, she must go. She would not fail or harass him; she was his friend. She would go away and scrub hospital floors, and polish hospital taps. That would tame the anguish in her, and some day she would be strong again---and come back---to those beloved ones who had given her up---so tenderly.