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Daisy's Aunt
by E. F. (Edward Frederic) Benson
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Jeannie paused for a moment before she replied; something in his voice, though still she could not see his face clearly, startled her. It sounded changed, somehow, full of something suppressed, something serious. But she could not risk a second fiasco; she had to play her high cards out, and hope for their triumph.

"You needn't say it," she said. "And so let us pass to what I suggested, and what you would have made, you told me, a condition of your forgiving me. Friendship! What a beautiful word in itself, and what a big one! And how little most people mean by it. A man says he is a woman's friend because he lunches with her once a month; a woman says she is a man's friend because they have taken a drive round Hyde Park in the middle of the afternoon!"

Jeannie sat more upright in her chair, leaning forward towards him. Then she saw him more clearly, and the hunger of his face, the bright shining of his eyes, endorsed what she had heard in his voice. Yet she was not certain—not quite certain.

"Oh, I don't believe we most of us understand friendship at all," she said. "It is not characteristic of our race to let ourselves feel. Most English people neither hate nor love, nor make friends in earnest. I think one has to go South—South and East—to find hate and love and friends, just as one has to go South to find the sun. Do you know the Persian poet and what he says of his friend:

'A book of verses underneath the bough, A loaf of bread, a jug of wine, and thou Beside me singing in the wilderness, The wilderness were paradise enow.'

Ah, that is more my notion of friendship, of the ideal of friendship, the thing that makes Paradise of the desert."

He got up quickly and stood before her, speaking hoarsely and quickly.

"It does not matter what you call it," he said. "I know what you mean. I call it love, that is all—Jeannie, Jeannie——"

He seized both her hands in his roughly, brutally almost, and covered them with kisses.

"Ah, it is done!" said Jeannie quickly, and half to herself. Then she rose too, and wrenched her hands from him.

"Have you gone mad?" she said. "Stand out of my way, please."

But she had not reckoned on the strength of the passion she had raised. For one moment he looked at her in blank astonishment, but he did not move. She could not get by him without violence. Then he advanced a step again towards her, as if he would have caught her to him. Jeannie put both her arms in front of her; she had turned pale to the lips.

"Not till you have told me——"

"I have nothing to tell you, except that I thought you were a gentleman and a friend. There is some one coming out of the billiard-room."

Daisy appeared in the doorway at the moment.

"The rubber's over already," she said, "just two hands. Won't you and Lord Lindfield——"

She stopped suddenly. It was clear he had not heard her, for, with arms still held out, he faced Jeannie, unconscious of any one but her.

"Jeannie——" he began again.

Jeannie did not look at him.

"Please let me pass," she said.—"No, Daisy, I think I have played enough. I am going upstairs. It is late. I am tired."



CHAPTER XXIII.

Jeannie went straight to her room. It was done, even as she had said, and her heart bled for her triumph. Yet she did not for a moment repent it. Had it been necessary to do it again, she would again have gone through the same hateful scene, and her scorn of herself weighed light even now with the keeping of the promise she had made by the bedside of Diana. But the thing had been worse than she had anticipated; it was no superficial desire she had aroused in him, but the authentic fire. But that made Daisy the safer: a man was not often in earnest like that.

But still the future was unplanned for; she had made her scene, scored her point, and the curtain, dramatically speaking, should have descended. But in real life the curtain did not descend; life insisted that there were no such things as curtains; it made one go on. She knew, too, that Lindfield would not take this as final; she had to think of something which should make it final. In any case she could not contemplate stopping in the house, with him there, and decided to go back to town to-morrow, cutting her stay here short by a day. She would go early, before any one was down; Alice would invent and explain for her.

A note, hastily scribbled, settled this. "It is done, Alice," she wrote, "and I feel satisfied and utterly miserable. Daisy does not exist for him. I shall go back to town early to-morrow, dear. Will you make some excuse? I know you will understand."

But the more important matter was not settled so easily. She had to show poor Lindfield unmistakably that her rejection of him was quite irrevocable. What interpretation he put on her conduct mattered but little, as long as he clearly understood that. And then a means occurred to her which was quite simple and quite sufficient. She wrote a couple of lines to Victor.

"My dearest," she said, "I must go to town early to-morrow, and shall not see you till you come up the day after. And I want you to announce our engagement at once. I should like it to be in the evening papers to-morrow. Tell them yourself down here. I write this in great haste. All love."

Jeannie rang for her maid to get these delivered, dismissed her for the night, and sat down to think over what she had done. She was still tremulous from it. To a man she really liked, and to a girl whom she tenderly loved, she had made herself vile, but it was still her sincere hope that neither would ever know the reason for what she had done. They must write her down a flirt; they had every reason for doing so.

She rose and looked at herself a moment in the long mirror beside the dressing-table. "You beast!" she said to herself. But there was another thought as well. "Diana, my dear," she said, as if comforting her.

* * * * *

It had been settled that Jeannie was to live with Lady Nottingham till the end of the season, and the latter had given her two charming rooms in the Grosvenor Square house, so that she could make things home-like about her for the few weeks before she would go down to her own house in the country. Little household gods had arrived and been unpacked while she was in the country, and she occupied herself during this solitary day in London with the arrangement of them. There were not many, for she did not tend to buy, but there were a few "bits of things" which she had got in Rome, a Cinque-cento bas-relief, a couple of Florentine copies of the Della Robbia heads, and some few pieces of Italian needlework. All these took some little time to dispose satisfactorily in the room, and that done, she proceeded to the arrangement of her writing-table. She liked to have photographs there: there was one of Daisy and Diana, two mites of ten years old and four years old, lovingly entwined, Daisy's head resting on her sister's shoulder; there was one of Victor as he was now, and another as he had been when an Eton boy; there were half a dozen others, and among them one of Diana, signed and dated, which Diana had given her hardly more than a year ago in Paris.

All this arranging took up the greater part of the day, and she kept herself to her work, forcing her mind away from those things which really occupied it, and making it attend to the manual business of putting books in shelves and pictures on the walls; but about tea-time there was nothing more to occupy her here, and by degrees her thoughts drifted back to Bray and her friends—or were they enemies?—there. It was no use thinking of it or them, for there was nothing more to be contrived or planned or acted, no problem for her to dig at, no crisis to avert.

She had finished everything, and there was nothing left for her to do except be silent, and hope perhaps by degrees to win Daisy back again. How Daisy reconstructed things in her own mind Jeannie did not know, and, indeed, the details of such reconstruction she did not particularly want to know. She had taken Lord Lindfield away from the girl, for a mere caprice, apparently, for the love of annexation characteristic of flirts, while all the time she was engaged to Victor Braithwaite. And having made mischief like this, she had run away. It was like a child who, having from sheer wantonness set fire to something, runs to a safe distance and watches it burn.

Jeannie had ordered the carriage to come round at six to take her for a drive, and a few minutes before, though it was barely six yet, she had heard something drive up and stop at the door, and supposed that before long her maid would tell her that it was round. Even as she thought this she heard steps come along the passage outside, then her door opened.

Daisy entered. She was very pale, but in each cheek there flamed one high spot of colour. She stood quite still by the door for a moment, looking at her aunt, then closed it and advanced into the room.

"It is true, then, Aunt Jeannie," she said, "that you are engaged to Victor Braithwaite? I came up from Bray to ask you that, to know it from your own lips."

Jeannie did not move, nor did she give Daisy any word of conventional greeting.

"It is quite true," she said.

Daisy began pulling off her gloves.

"I congratulate you," she said. "It came as rather a surprise to me. Aunt Alice told me. I think she understood why it was a surprise to me. I wonder if you do?"

Daisy appeared to be keeping a very firm hand on herself. There was no question that she was speaking under some tremendous stress of emotion, but her voice was quite quiet. It trembled a little, but that was all, and it seemed to Jeannie that that tremor was of anger more than of self-pity or sorrow. She was glad—in so far as she was glad of anything—that this was so.

"I see you don't answer me," said Daisy, "and, indeed, there is no need. But I want an answer to this question, Aunt Jeannie. Why did you do it? Don't you think I have a right to know that?"

For one moment it occurred to Jeannie to profess and to persist in professing that she did not know what Daisy meant. But that would have been useless, and worse than useless—unworthy. In her utter perplexity she tried another tack.

"Is it my fault that he fell in love with me?" she said.

"Did you not mean him to?" asked Daisy. "And all the time, while you meant him to, you were engaged to Mr. Braithwaite."

There was still anger in Daisy's voice. Jeannie felt she could bear that; what she felt she could not bear would be if Daisy broke down. So she encouraged that.

"I do not see by what right you question me," she said. "Lord Lindfield fell in love with me; last night he proposed to me. Ask him why he did that."

"He did that because you fascinated and dazzled him," said Daisy; "because you meant him to fall in love with you."

"Then I wonder you have not more spirit," said Jeannie. "You see how easily he turned from you to me. Can you then believe he was ever in love with you? You may have wanted to marry him; at least——"

And then she paused, knowing she had made the most ghastly mistake, and not knowing how to remedy it. Daisy saw her mistake.

"Then you did know that it was possible he would ask me to marry him," she said. "I wondered if you knew that. It makes it complete now I know that you did. So it comes to this, that you cut me out just in order to flirt with him. Thank you, Aunt Jeannie, thank you."

And then there came into Daisy's voice what Jeannie dreaded to hear; the hard tone of anger died out of it, it became gentle, and it became miserable. She sat down at Jeannie's writing-table, covering her face with her hands.

"Oh, I beseech you," she said, "cannot you undo the spell that you cast so easily? Oh, Aunt Jeannie, do, do; and I will forget all that has happened, and—and love you again. I want to do that. But I loved him; it was only quite lately I knew that, but it is so. Have you not enough? Isn't it enough that you will marry the man you love? I did not think you could be so cruel. Do you hate me, or what is it?"

Jeannie made a little hopeless gesture with her hands.

"Oh, Daisy, I didn't know that you loved him," she said. "Indeed, I did not. But, my dear, he did not love you. How could he have if he behaved as he has behaved?"

"You made him," said Daisy. "You——" Then once again anger flamed into her voice. "Ah, what a true friend you have been to me!" she said. "Were you as true a friend to Diana too?"

She had taken up one of the photographs, that which represented her and Diana together.

"Here we are together," she said, "and we thank you. Here is Diana by herself——"

And then she stopped abruptly. Her eye had fallen on the photograph of Diana which she had given only last year to Jeannie. It was signed "Diana, 1907." She drew it out of its frame.

"Aunt Jeannie," she said, quickly, "in what year did Diana die?"

Jeannie turned to her suddenly at this most unexpected question, and saw what it was that Daisy held in her hand. She made a desperate effort to turn Daisy's attention away at any cost.

"Daisy, we were talking about Lord Lindfield," she said. "What reason had he ever given you to make you think he loved you? And has he not given you a strong reason for showing he did not?"

Daisy looked at her for a moment, and then back to the photograph.

"She died five years ago," she said. "But this is signed 1907, last year."

Once again Jeannie tried to turn Daisy's attention.

"And if he did fall in love with me, what then?" she said. "You assume it is all my fault."

Daisy looked at her steadily a moment, and then back at the photograph.

"Yes, yes," she said. "But you were with Diana when she died, were you not? When did she die?"

Jeannie covered her face with her hands a moment, thinking intently, and then Daisy spoke again.

"Why was I told she died five years ago?" she asked. "You told me so yourself. Were you hiding anything?"

Again Daisy paused.

"Her husband came to England after her death," she said. "He stopped with you, I remember, when I was living with you."

Once again she paused.

"Was there something dreadful, something disgraceful?" she asked. "Aunt Jeannie, I must know. I must!"



CHAPTER XXIV.

Jeannie got up out of her chair, where she had been sitting ever since Daisy entered. Daisy as she spoke had risen also from the writing-table, and, still holding the photograph of Diana in her hand, stood by her.

"You must give me a moment, Daisy," she said. "I have got to think. And, my dear, while I am thinking do not try to guess. I can't bear that you should guess. I would sooner tell you than that."

Daisy was very white, and the bright spot of anger that burnt in her cheeks when she entered the room had smouldered away. She nodded without spoken reply.

Jeannie moved away from Daisy, and sat down in the window-seat at the far end of the room. Already Daisy had guessed that there was something disgraceful. Daisy remembered, too, that after Diana's supposed death her husband had come to England. And then for one moment Jeannie's spirit rose in impotent revolt against the bitter cruelty of this chance by which Daisy had seen Diana's photograph. She herself, perhaps, had been careless and culpable, in putting it on her table; but she had been so preoccupied with all the perplexities of this last week that the danger had not ever so faintly occurred to her. But now by this fatal oversight Daisy had already guessed perilously near the truth.

She herself could invent no story to account for these things, and if Daisy was told the whole truth, of which she guessed so much, that other bitterness, the sense that Jeannie had cruelly betrayed her, would be removed. She could comfort Daisy again, and (this was sweet to herself also) show her how she loved her. She had done her very best to keep her promise to Diana, and she had not spared herself in doing so; and now, in spite of her efforts, so hard to make and so ungrudgingly made, half the truth was known to Daisy. It seemed to her that the other half would heal rather than hurt.

She went back, and, standing in front of the girl, held out her hands to her. But Daisy made no response to the gesture, and, indeed, moved a little away. That, again, cut Jeannie like a lash, but she knew the pain of it would be only temporary. In a few minutes now Daisy would understand.

"I am going to tell you," she said, "and as I tell you, my dear, I want you to keep on thinking to yourself that Diana was your sister, your only sister, and—and that you used to play together and love each other when you were children. And, dear Daisy, you must try to be—not to be a girl only when I tell you this. You are a girl, but you are a woman also, and you must bear this like a woman who is hearing about her sister."

Once again Jeannie longed to take Daisy in her arms and tell her, holding that dear head close to her bosom. But it was not time for that yet.

"You were told five years ago," she said, "that your sister was dead. She was not, Daisy; she died last year only, soon after I went abroad. And she died in my arms, dear, thank Heaven, because I loved her. And she loved me, Daisy. Oh, darling, you must bear this. I tried to spare you the knowledge, for I promised Diana that, but by ill-chance you have guessed so much that I think it better to tell you all. And you mustn't judge Diana, poor dear, or condemn her. The time has quite gone by for that, and, besides, she was your sister, and at the end the thing she wanted most in all the world was that you should not know. Remember that. Women have a hard time in this world, Daisy. Some are married unhappily, and though Diana's husband loved her very truly and tenderly it was not a happy marriage. At the time when you were told she was dead she was not, but she had left her husband. For the love he bore her he did not divorce her. Yes, dear, it was that."

Again Jeannie paused. As the moment came near it was all she could do to get the words out. Yet when Daisy knew all, out of the hurt would come some healing. Jeannie could make her feel how she loved her.

"She lived in Paris after she left her husband," she continued. "She lived for a time with the man for whom she deserted him. She wanted love—women do—you and I do. She—she got love. After a while there was another man. Yes, my dear, it was he. We needn't name him any more than we did just now when we spoke of him."

Daisy sat quite still for a moment; for all that her face expressed she might never have heard. Then a sudden little tremor shook her, and she tore the photograph of Diana which she held across and across, and threw the fragments on the floor.

"Ah, Daisy, you are cruel," said Jeannie.

Daisy did not reply, and then suddenly her mouth began to tremble, and tears ready to fall gathered in her eyes. It had hurt her cruelly, and it was but the instinctive rebellion of one in sudden and incontrollable pain that had made her tear the photograph. But, as Jeannie had foreseen, with the hurt came healing.

It was not necessary to say any more, for she saw that already Daisy was beginning to understand all that she had thought so incomprehensible, and so vile when it was comprehended, in her, and the comprehension brought with it the knowledge of the love and tenderness from which these things sprang. And this time it was Daisy who held out her hands to Jeannie, but falteringly, as if doubtful whether she dared. But she need not have been afraid; next moment she was clasped close, and with the sense of love surrounding and encompassing her the tears came, and she sobbed her heart out. And even when the tumult of her weeping had abated, it was but disjointedly that the words came.

"And so it was because of that, Aunt Jeannie," she whispered, "because you had promised Diana that you would do your best to keep it from me?"

"Yes, my darling, but I have failed," said Jeannie.

"But how splendidly," whispered Daisy. "I should like to have f-failed like that. And you were content that I should think you a b-beast, and that he should?"

"No, dear, not content quite. But it was the best I could think of."

"And Mr. Braithwaite?" said Daisy. "Could you be content that he should think so?"

Jeannie paused a moment before she replied. What she must say, if she answered this, would hurt Daisy again, but again there was healing there.

"I knew he would never think me a beast," she said at length. "I knew he trusted me absolutely."

"And I didn't," said Daisy.

"No, dear, you didn't. But never mind that."

"I can't help minding that. I thought—I thought everything disgusting about you. Oh, Aunt Jeannie, but I did try so much not to! I did try to behave well, to realize that you and he had fallen in love with each other, and that it was neither your fault nor his. But when Aunt Alice told me that you were engaged to Mr. Braithwaite, then I broke down. And when you told me you had known that I hoped to marry Lord Lindfield, then it was complete to my mind. I thought—oh! I have spoilt it all. It can never be the same again. And I did so long for you to come home a week ago. I did love you."

Jeannie stroked Daisy's hair gently for a moment or two.

"You speak of spoiling love," she said. "That is not easy to do. In fact, it can't be done. So don't have any fears on that point, my darling."

Daisy was silent for a while.

"And if he asks you why you did it?" she said.

Jeannie considered this.

"I may have to tell him," she said. "It all depends. Probably you don't understand that."

"No; tell me," said Daisy.

"If he appeals to me in the name of his love for me, I think I shall have to tell him," said Jeannie. "I don't want to; I shall do my best not to. But there is a claim, that of love, which is dominant. I did not mean him to fall in love with me, dear; I meant him only to be detached from you. But bigger issues, I am afraid, have come in. You must trust me to do the best I can. I think you will trust me, will you not?"

Daisy clung closer for a moment, and then she sat up.

"Yes. And I haven't even said I am sorry, and I am sure I need not. Aunt Jeannie, I think I want to go away alone for a little. I want, yes, I want to cry a little more, but by myself. Do you understand?"

"Yes, my dear. But will you not stop here to-night? You could telegraph to Alice, and you might add that we were friends. She would like to know that."

Daisy mopped her eyes.

"I like to know it," she said.

She got up. Just in front of her were the fragments of the torn photograph. She saw them and half shuddered at them. And Jeannie, all tenderness, knew that things were not right with Daisy yet. There was still another wound which must be healed.

"Oh, Daisy!" she said. "You must never let yourself be black and bitter like that. You tore the photograph up; it lies there still."

"Oh, I can't touch it," said Daisy.

Jeannie looked at her quietly, patiently.

"Your sister," she said. "Diana. Have you forgotten what she made me promise? She was so sorry, too; I think she would have given all the world if what she had done could be undone. Not a day passed without her being sorry. Daisy!"

Daisy stood quite still for a moment, then she suddenly knelt down on the floor and picked the fragments up, kissing them as she did so.

"Oh, poor Di," she said—"poor, poor Di!"



CHAPTER XXV.

The carriage had waited long before this, but when Daisy left her Jeannie went out for a breath of evening air. London, to her eyes, was looking very hot and tired, a purplish heat-haze hung in the sky, and the grass of the Park was yellow with the scorching of the last week, and grey with dust.

Yet somehow it all brought a sense of extraordinary peace and refreshment to Jeannie. She, too, felt mentally hot and tired, but she knew that whatever scene it might be necessary to go through with Tom Lindfield, the worst was over. For, all unwittingly indeed, his had been the fault, and though Jeannie liked him and hated the idea both of his suffering and his possible bitterness and anger against her, all that was in the nature of justice; acts have always their consequences, and those who have committed them must bear what follows. But poor Daisy had done nothing; it was for the fault of others that her soul had been in the grip of resentment, jealousy, and anger, which had embittered and poisoned her days and nights.

But that, all at any rate that was bitter in it, had now passed. She saw the meaning of her suffering; it was no longer a blind and wicked force. And though one love had to be left to wither and die in her heart, Jeannie knew well that the love between Daisy and her, which all this week had been blighted, was full of fresh-springing shoots again, which would help to cover over the bare place.

Then, for herself, more precious than all was that sense of that great love which, she believed, had never suffered the dimness of a moment's doubt. Victor had seen her acting in a way that was impossible for him to understand, but he had quite refused, so Jeannie believed, to let his mind even ask a why or wherefore, still less conjecture any answer. His own love for her and the absolute certainty of her love for him were things so huge that nothing else could be compared with them. They stood like great mountains, based on the earth but reaching into the heavens, firm and imperishable, and if anything could come between his vision and them, it could be no more than a mist-wreath which would presently pass, and could no more shake or invalidate their stability than the grasses and flowers that waved in the pleasant meadow beneath them.

And had Jeannie but known it she would have found more comfort yet in the thought of Daisy, for at this moment Daisy, alone in her room, though weeping a little now and then, was thinking not of herself at all, not even of Lindfield, but of Jeannie. Daisy was generous and warm-hearted to the core, and passionate had been her self-reproach at her complete misunderstanding of her aunt, at her utter failure even to ask herself whether there was not something about it all that she did not understand.

How nobly different Victor Braithwaite had been, who, so it seemed, had assumed there must be some undercurrent of which he knew nothing, and was quite content to leave it at that. Jeannie had said she loved him; he wanted nothing more. But Daisy knew also that Jeannie loved her; what she did not know then, but was beginning to know now, was what love meant; how it can bear even to be completely misunderstood by those it loves, if only, in spite of their ignorance and misjudgment, it can help them. To Daisy, hitherto, love had been something assertive; to-day she was learning that it is based on a self-surrender made with the same passionateness as are its conquests.

The rest of the party were coming up next day, and it did not surprise Jeannie to find a telegram waiting for her when she came in from Tom Lindfield. He asked if he might call and see her next morning, saying that he would come at twelve unless she put him off.

It needed but a moment's reflection to make her decide that in bare justice she could not refuse. She shrank from it; she dreaded the thought of seeing him again, of listening to his just and passionate reproaches; she dreaded also the possibility that she might once again have to give up Diana's secret. But, since he wished it, she must see him.

Next morning she told Daisy she expected him, so that there should be no possibility of their meeting by chance on the stairs or in Jeannie's room, and sat waiting for him alone. She could not prepare herself in any way for the interview, since she could not tell in the least what form it would take. She tried not to be afraid, but—but she had treated him abominably. So, at least, he must think, and with perfect justice.

He was announced, and came in. As with Daisy yesterday, they did not greet one another. She was sitting at her writing-table, but did not rise, and for a moment he stood opposite her, just looking at her with those blue, boyish eyes which she knew could be so merry, but did not know could be so dumbly, hopelessly sad.

Then he spoke, quite quietly.

"You ran away unexpectedly, Mrs. Halton," he said.

"Yes; I thought it was best."

"Miss Daisy also left yesterday. I suppose you have seen her?" he said.

"Yes, she spent the night here."

"Are you friends?"

"Yes."

Tom Lindfield sat down on the arm of the low chair opposite the writing-table.

"That's the cleverest thing I've ever heard," he said. "I think you owe me something, and I think you ought to tell me how you managed it. If she has forgiven you, perhaps I might."

"No. I can't tell you how I managed it," said Jeannie.

"You quite refuse?"

"Quite."

He paused a moment.

"I suppose she asked you a certain question," he said, "which I also want to ask you. Is it true you are engaged to that nice fellow—Braithwaite, I mean?"

"Quite true."

Still quite quietly he got up, took out a cigarette, and looked about for matches. He found some on the chimney-piece, lit his cigarette, and came back to her.

"I beg your pardon," he said. "I didn't ask if I might smoke here? Thanks. Mrs. Halton, I don't know if you have ever fallen in love. I have, once."

His voice rose a little over this, as if with suppressed anger. Jeannie longed almost that he should get angry. This quietness was intolerable. And she tried to sting him into anger.

"I should have thought you had fallen in love more than once," she said.

This was no good.

"You would have been wrong, then," he said. "I should have thought so too till just lately. But I have just found out that I never loved before. I—I did everything else, but I did not love."

"You loved Daisy, do you mean?" she asked.

He flamed up for a moment.

"Ah, there is no good in saying that," he said, sharply. "What can be the use of it? I met the woman—there is only one—and she led me to believe that she cared for me. And when I told her that I loved her she said she had thought I was a gentleman and a friend."

Jeannie felt her heart melt within her.

"Yes, yes, I am sorry," she said.

"That is no good, I am afraid," said he. "You have got to tell me why you did it. We are man and woman, you and I. I cannot believe you did it out of sheer wantonness, from the desire to make me miserable, and, I am afraid, to some extent, to make Miss Daisy miserable. I don't see what you were to gain by it. Also you risked something since you were engaged all the time to Braithwaite. And the only thing I can think of is that for some reason you wished to get between Miss Daisy and myself. I suppose you thought I had been a bad lot—I daresay I had—and did not want me to marry her. But wasn't that an infernally cruel way of doing it?"

Jeannie said nothing, but after a long silence she looked at him.

"Have you finished?" she asked. "I have nothing to say to you, no explanation to give."

Once again, and more violently, his anger, his resentment at the cruelty of it, boiled over.

"No, I have not finished," he said. "I am here to tell you that you have done an infernally cruel thing, for I take it that it was to separate Miss Daisy and me that you did it. You have been completely successful, but—but for me it has been rather expensive. I gave you my heart, I tell you. And you stamped on it. I can't mend it."

Then that died out and his voice trembled.

"It's broken," he said—"just broken."

Jeannie put out her hands towards him in supplication.

"I am sorry," she said.

"I tell you that is no good," he said, and on the words his voice broke again. "Oh, Jeannie, is it final? Is it really true? For Heaven's sake tell me that you have been playing this jest, trick—what you like—on me, to test me, to see if I really loved you. You made me love you—you taught me what love meant. I have seen and judged the manner of my past life, and—and I laid it all down, and I laid myself down at your feet, so that you and love should re-make me."

Jeannie leant forward over the table, hiding her face in her hands.

"Oh, stop—for pity's sake stop," she said. "I have had a good deal to bear. I never guessed you would love me like that; I only meant you, at first, to be attracted by me, as you have been by other women. It is true that I was determined that you should not marry Daisy, and I knew that if you really got to love her nothing would stand in your way. I had to make it impossible for you to fall in love with her. It was to save you and her."

Jeannie felt she was losing her head; the sight of this man in his anger and his misery confused and bewildered her. She got up suddenly.

"I don't know what I am saying," she said.

"You said it was to save her and me," he said, quietly. "To save us from what?"

She shook her head.

"I don't know," she said. "I was talking nonsense."

"I am very sure you were not. And it is only just that I should know. By my love for you—for I can think of nothing more sacred to me than that—I bid you tell me. It is my right. Considering what you have done to me, it is no more than my right."

It had happened as Jeannie feared it might. She felt her throat go suddenly dry, and once she tried to speak without being able. Then she commanded her voice again.

"You were in Paris two years ago," she said. "There was a woman there who lived in the Rue Chalgrin. She called herself Madame Rougierre."

"Well?" said he.

"Daisy's sister," said Jeannie, with a sob.

* * * * *

She turned away from him as she spoke, and leant against the bookcase behind her table. It was a long time before he moved, and then, still with back turned, she heard him approach her, and he took her hand and kissed it.

"I love and I honour you," he said.

Jeannie gave one immense sigh.

"Oh, Tom," she said, "you are a man!"

"It is of your making, then," said he.



CHAPTER XXVI.

Easter fell late next year, but spring had come early, and had behaved with unusual sweetness and constancy, for from the middle of March to mid-April there had been a series of days from which winter had definitely departed. In most years April produces two or three west-wind days of enervating and languorous heat, but then recollects itself and peppers the confiding Englishman with hail and snow, blown as out of a pea-shooter from the northeast, just to remind him that if he thinks that summer is going to begin just yet he is woefully mistaken. But this year the succession of warm days had been so uninterrupted that Lady Nottingham had made the prodigious experiment of asking a few people down to Bray for a week-end party at Easter itself.

She was conscious of her amazing temerity, for she knew well that anything might happen; that the river, instead of being at the bottom of the garden, might so change its mind about their relative positions that in a few hours the garden would be at the bottom of the river, or, again, this bungalow of a house might be riddled and pierced with arctic blasts.

But, in spite of these depressing possibilities, she particularly wanted to have a few, a very few, people down for that Sunday. They had all a special connection with Bray. Things had happened there before, and it was a party of healed memories that was to gather there. If, after all, the weather turned out to be hopelessly unpropitious, they could all sit in a ring round the fire, holding each other's hands. She felt sure they would like to do that. Probably there would be a great many tete-a-tetes in various corners, or, if it were warm, in various punts. But she felt sure that they would all hold hands in the intervals of these.

Jeannie and Victor had been married in the autumn, and since then they had practically disappeared, surrounded by a glow of their own happiness. They had sunk below the horizon, but from the horizon there had, so to speak, come up a brilliant illumination like an aurora borealis.

But Lady Nottingham considered that they had aurora-ed quite long enough. They had no right to keep all their happiness to themselves; it was their duty to diffuse it, and let other people warm their hands and hearts at it. She had written what is diplomatically known as a "strong note" to say so, and she had mentioned that she was not alone in considering that they were being rather selfish. Tom Lindfield thought so too. He openly averred that he was still head-over-ears in love with Jeannie, and he wished to gratify his passion by seeing her again, and having copious opportunities given him of solitary talks with her. He did not object (this was all part of the message that Lady Nottingham sent Jeannie from him) to Victor's coming with her, but he would be obliged if Victor would kindly make up his mind to efface himself a good deal. Otherwise he had better stop away.

Tom proposed to come down to Bray for Easter, and would be much obliged if Jeannie would come too. He did not ask her to set aside any other engagements she might have, because he was perfectly well aware that she had no other engagement than that tiresome and apparently permanent one of burying herself in the country with Victor.

Jeannie received this letter at breakfast down at their house in Hampshire. She read it aloud to her husband.

"What a darling he is," she said. "Victor, I shall go. I love that man."

"I know you do. He isn't a bad sort. Do you want me to come too?"

"Oh, I shan't go unless you do," said Jeannie, quickly.

"Right. It's a confounded nuisance, though, but I suppose you must. How many days do you want to stop there?"

"Oh, till Tuesday or Wednesday, I suppose. Perhaps Tom would come back with us here after that."

Victor got up and moved round the table, till he stood by his wife's chair.

"No, I don't think he will," he said. "Fact is, Jeannie, I asked him to come here a week or two ago, and he wrote me an awfully nice letter back, but said he thought he wouldn't. I didn't tell you before, for there was no use in it. But after that I don't think I should ask him if I were you."

Jeannie was silent a moment.

"But he wants to see me now," she said.

"I know. But I don't think he wants to be with us alone. You understand that, I expect."

Jeannie sighed.

"Poor Tom!" she said. "Yet I don't know why I say 'poor.' I think he likes life."

"I don't think he loves it as you and I do."

Jeannie's eyes suddenly filled with tears.

"I am awfully sorry for that," she said. "Sometimes I feel frightfully guilty, and then suddenly on the top of that I feel innocent. Oh, to be plain, I feel more than innocent. I feel dreadfully laudable. And then, to do me justice, I put up a little prayer that I may not become a prig or a donkey."

He laughed.

"Please, don't," he said. "I should not know you. But you made a man of him."

"Ah, yes; he has told you that. It is not the case. He made a man of himself."

Victor held up his hand.

"I don't want to know what happened," he said. "I am quite content to leave it. He became a man, and you were always my beloved."

Some backward surge of memory stirred in Jeannie.

"Quite always?" she said. "You never wanted to ask me about it?"

"No, dear, never," he said. "Not because I was complacent or anything of that kind, but simply because we loved each other."

This, then, was the foundation of Lady Nottingham's Easter party. Jeannie and her husband would come, and so, as a corollary, Lord Lindfield would come. Then there would be the newly-engaged couple, namely, Daisy and Willie Carton. Either of them would go, as steel filings go to the magnet, wherever the other was, and without the least sense of compunction Lady Nottingham told each of them separately that the other was coming to her. She had been rather late in doing this, and, as a matter of fact, Willie, no longer hoping for it, had made another engagement. But he did not even frown or consider that. He wrote a cheerful, scarcely apologetic note to Mrs. Beaumont, merely saying he found he could not come. Nature and art alike—and Mrs. Beaumont was a subtle compound of the two—allow much latitude to lovers, and she did not scold him.

At this stage in her proceedings Lady Nottingham suddenly abandoned the idea of a party at all. There was Victor and Jeannie, and their corollary, Tom Lindfield; there was Daisy and her corollary, Willie; there was herself. Gladys would be there too, and—and it was necessary to provide light conversation in case everybody was too much taken up with everybody else, and Jim Crowfoot would, no doubt, supply it. A very short telephonic pause was succeeded by the assurance that he would.



CHAPTER XXVII.

Two days before this little gathering of friends was to assemble Jeannie left Itchen Abbas for town. Victor did not go with her, for the unpunctual May-fly was already on the river, and, since subsequent days had to be abandoned, he preferred to use these. He thought it (and said so) very selfish of Jeannie to go, since who cared what gowns she wore? But it seemed that Jeannie thought this nonsense, and went. Also a tooth, though it did not ache, said that it thought it might, and she arranged an appointment in Old Burlington Street for Saturday afternoon. She would meet Victor down at Bray.

The tooth proved a false alarm. It was tapped and probed and mirrored, and she was assured that she need feel no anxiety. So in the elation of a visit to the dentist over, she emerged into the street. There was a willing but unable motor there that puffed and snorted, and did not do anything. And immediately she heard a familiar voice.

"Why, Jeannie," it said, "what confounded and stupendous luck! Never thought to meet you here. Going to Bray, aren't you? And so am I. Old Puffing Billy is having his fit here this time. Or do you think he'll have another on the road? I'll go down by train with you, or I'll take you down in Puffing Billy. But we'll go together. By Jove, you look ripping!"

Jeannie gave him both her hands.

"Oh, Tom," she said, "what fun! Let's go down in Puffing Billy. I've been to the dentist, and there isn't anything."

Puffing Billy gave out a volume of blue smoke.

"Good old chap," said Tom sympathetically. "Hope he'll stick again on the level.—Is it all right for the present, Stanton?—Get in, Jeannie. Never saw such luck! Who would expect Puffing Billy to break down opposite a dentist's, when you needn't have gone there at all. Jove! it is good to see you."

The incredible happened. Once again the car broke down on the level, and once again Stanton had to go upon his belly, like the snake, while his passengers sat on a rug by the wayside.

"We shall be late again," said Tom. "Do you know, it is nearly six months since I saw you last?"

Jeannie remembered the invitation he had received and refused.

"That's your fault," she said.

"I know. Your man asked me. Awfully good of him."

"Why didn't you come, then?"

The inimitable Stanton ceased to be a snake, and, becoming erect, touched his cap.

"Car's all right, my lord," he said.

"Oh, is it? Get in, then.—I didn't know if you wanted me to come, Jeannie. I'm not sure if I wanted to either. But I expect the two are one. It's funny, isn't it? Try me again."

"Well, come back with Victor and me after Bray," she said.

"Rather. It's Bray first, though. We shan't be late for dinner after all. What a bore; I like being uniform and consistent. Look here, do promise me a morning or an afternoon or something down there. Just half a day alone with you."

She got into the car, he following.

"Yes, you dear," she said. "Of course you shall have it. A whole day if you like, morning and afternoon."

"Jove! I'm on in that piece. Sure you won't be bored?"

"I'll try not."

"H'm. You think it will need an effort."

Jeannie laughed.

"Once upon a time a man went out fishing for compliments—" she began.

"And he didn't catch any," said Tom.

"Not one. And now we've chattered enough, and you shall tell me all about yourself."

* * * * *

It was a very quiet and simple history that she heard, and all told it amounted to the fact that he had settled down as he told her nearly a year ago he was thinking of doing, but without marrying. There was little to say, and in that little he was characteristically modest. For the greater part of the year he had been down at his place in Wiltshire, of which he had been so studiously absentee a landlord, and for the first time had taken his place as a big landowner, and that which, with rather a wry face, he alluded to as a "county magnate."

It was from other sources that Jeannie knew how modest this account was, and at the end—

"Tom, you're a brick!" she said.

He laughed.

"Didn't know it," he said. "But the man who went fishing caught something after all, in that case."

* * * * *

Daisy came into her aunt's room when the women went upstairs that night for a talk. She was radiantly in love, but it was a different Daisy from her who had made so many plans and known her own mind so well a year ago.

"I know Willie has a cold," she said, "but men are so tiresome. They won't take reasonable care of themselves. Don't you think he looked rather run down, Aunt Jeannie?"

"Not the very slightest, I am afraid."

"How horrid of you! Oh, Aunt Jeannie, what a nice world!"

Daisy settled herself on the floor by her aunt's chair, and possessed herself of her hand.

"And to think that till less than a year ago I was quite, quite blind," she said. "I always loved you, I think, but I am so different now. What has happened, do you think?"

"I think you have grown up, my dear," said Jeannie.

"I suppose it may be that. I wonder how it happens. Do you think one grows up from inside, or does something come from outside to make one?"

"Surely it is a combination of the two. It is with us as it is with plants. From outside comes the rain and the sun, which make them grow, but all the same it is from within that this growth comes, so that they put forth leaves and flowers."

Daisy sighed.

"What a lot of time I wasted," she said. "To think that Willie was waiting so long before I could see him as he was. Yes, I know what the sun and the rain were in my case. They were you, you darling, when for my sake and poor Diana's you did what you did."

"Ah, my dear," said Jeannie, "we need not speak of that."

"But I want to just once—just to tell you that it was you who opened my eyes. And it wasn't my eyes alone you opened. It was his too—Tom's, I mean. He knows that, and he told me so."

"That is quite enough about me," said Jeannie, with decision. "Daisy, I wish Tom would marry. Can't we find some nice girl for him?"

"Oh, we can find a hundred nice girls for him," said Daisy, "and he will respectfully reject them all. He doesn't want any nice girl. Oh, Aunt Jeannie, why shouldn't I say it? He's in love with you. I think he always will be. Some people might call it sad, but I don't think it is at all. The thought of you makes him so tremendously happy."

Daisy plaited Jeannie's long white fingers in with her own.

"I think it's one of the nicest things that ever happened," she said. "It's like some old legend of a man who has—well, racketed about all his life, and then suddenly finds his ideal, which, though she is quite out of reach, entirely satisfies him. He is so fond of Uncle Victor too. That's so nice of him, and so natural, since Uncle Victor is your husband. It's just what the man in the legend would do."

Jeannie gave a long, happy sigh.

"Oh, I thank Heaven for my friends," she said.

"They thank Heaven for you," said Daisy softly.

* * * * *

April continued to behave with incredible amiability, and superb and sunny weather blessed Lady Nottingham's rash experiment. Everywhere the spring triumphed; on the chestnut trees below which Jeannie and Lord Lindfield had sat on the afternoon of the thunderstorm last year a million glutinous buds swelled and burst into delicate five-fingered hands of milky green; and on the beech-trunks was spread the soft green powder of minute mosses. The new grass of the year was shooting up between the older spikes, making a soft and short-piled velvet, on which the clumps of yellow crocuses broke like the dancing reflection of sun on water. Daffodils danced, too, in shady places, a company of nymphs, and the celandines were like the burnished gold of some illuminated manuscript of spring.

And all these tokens of the renewed and triumphant life of the world were but the setting to that company of happy hearts assembled by the Thames' side. The time of the singing bird had come, and their hearts were in tune with it.

The little party, so it had been originally planned, were to disperse on the Wednesday after Easter, but on the Tuesday various secret conferences were held, and with much formality a round-robin was signed and presented to Lady Nottingham, stating that her guests were so much pleased with their quarters that they unanimously wished to stop an extra day.

So they stopped an extra day, another day of burgeoning spring, and were very content. Tom was content also next morning, for he went with Jeannie to her home.

THE END.



* * * * *



ESTABLISHED 1798



T. NELSON AND SONS

PRINTERS AND PUBLISHERS



Notes on Nelson's New Novels.

No work of unwholesome character or of second-rate quality will be included in this Series.

The novel is to-day the popular form of literary art. This is proved by the number of novels published, and by the enormous sales of fiction at popular prices.

While Reprints of fiction may be purchased for a few pence, New Fiction is still a luxury.

The author of a New Novel loses his larger audience, the public are denied the privilege of enjoying his latest work, because of the prohibitive price of 4s. 6d. demanded for the ordinary "six shilling" novel.

In another way both author and public are badly served under the present publishing system. At certain seasons a flood of new novels pours from the press. Selection becomes almost impossible. The good novels are lost among the indifferent and the bad. Good service can be done to literature not only by reducing the price of fiction, but by sifting its quality.

The number of publishers issuing new fiction is so great, that the entrance of another firm into the field demands almost an apology—at least, a word of explanation.

Messrs. Nelson have been pioneers in the issue of reprints of fiction in Library Edition at Sevenpence. The success of Nelson's Library has been due to the careful selection of books, regular publication throughout the whole year, and excellence of manufacture at a low cost, due to perfection of machinery.

Nelson's Sevenpenny Library represents the best that can be given to the public in the way of Reprints under present manufacturing conditions.

Nelson's New Novels (of which this book is one of the first volumes) represents the same standard of careful selection, excellence of production, and lowest possible price applied to New Fiction.

The list of authors of Nelson's New Novels for 1910 includes Anthony Hope, E. F. Benson, H. A. Vachell, H. G. Wells, "Q," G. A. Birmingham, John Masefield, Mrs. W. K. Clifford, J. C. Snaith, John Buchan, and Agnes and Egerton Castle. Arrangements for subsequent volumes have been made with other authors of equally high standing.

Nelson's New Novels are of the ordinary "six shilling" size, but are produced with greater care than most of their competitors. They are printed in large, clear type, on a fine white paper. They are strongly bound in green cloth with a white and gold design. They are decorated with a pretty end-paper and a coloured frontispiece. All the volumes are issued in bright wrappers. The books are a happy combination of substantial and artistic qualities.

A new volume is issued regularly every month.

The price is the very lowest at which a large New Novel with good material and workmanship, and with an adequate return to author, bookseller, and publisher, can be offered to the public at the present time.

* * * * *

Descriptive Notes on the Volumes for 1910:—

SECOND STRING. Anthony Hope.

This brilliant social comedy contains all the qualities which have given Anthony Hope his unique reputation as a historian of modern life. He introduces us to the society of the little country town of Meriton, the tradespeople, the loungers in the inn parlour, the neighbouring farmers and squires, and especially to Harry Belfield, the mirror of fashion in the county and candidate for its representation in Parliament. We see also his former school friend, Andy Hayes, who has returned from lumbering in Canada to make a living at home. The motif of the tale is the unconscious competition of the two friends, of whom Andy is very willing to play "second fiddle," did not character and brains force him to the front. The young squire of Halton is too selfish and capricious to succeed, and in spite of his loyalty to friendship, Andy finds himself driven to take his place both in love and in politics. A host of characters cross the stage, and the scene flits between Meriton and London. The book is so light in touch, so shrewd in its observation, so robust and yet so kindly in its humour, that it must be accorded the highest rank among Anthony Hope's works—which is to say, the first place among modern social comedies.

FORTUNE. J. C. Snaith.

Mr. J. C. Snaith is already known to fame by his historical novels, his admirable cricketing story, his essay in Meredithan subtlety "Brooke of Covenden," and his most successful Victorian comedy "Araminta." In his new novel he breaks ground which has never before been touched by an English novelist. He follows no less a leader than Cervantes. His hero, Sir Richard Pendragon, is Sir John Falstaff grown athletic and courageous, with his imagination fired by much adventure in far countries and some converse with the knight of La Mancha. The doings of this monstrous Englishman are narrated by a young and scandalized Spanish squire, full of all the pedantry of chivalry. Sir Richard is a new type in literature—the Rabelaisian Paladin, whose foes flee not only from his sword but from his Gargantuan laughter. In Mr. Snaith's romance there are many delightful characters—a Spanish lady who dictates to armies, a French prince of the blood who has forsaken his birthright for the highroad. But all are dominated by the immense Sir Richard, who rights wrongs like an unruly Providence, and then rides away.

THE HISTORY OF MR. POLLY. H. G. Wells.

If the true aim of romance is to find beauty and laughter and heroism in odd places, then Mr. Wells is a great romantic. His heroes are not knights and adventurers, not even members of the quasi-romantic professions, but the ordinary small tradesmen, whom the world has hitherto neglected. The hero of the new book, Mr. Alfred Polly, is of the same school, but he is nearer Hoopdriver than Kipps. He is in the last resort the master of his fate, and squares himself defiantly against the Destinies. Unlike the others, he has a literary sense, and has a strange fantastic culture of his own. Mr. Wells has never written anything more human or more truly humorous than the adventures of Mr. Polly as haberdasher's apprentice, haberdasher, incendiary, and tramp. Mr. Polly discovers the great truth that, however black things may be, there is always a way out for a man if he is bold enough to take it, even though that way leads through fire and revolution. The last part of the book, where the hero discovers his courage, is a kind of saga. We leave him in the end at peace with his own soul, wondering dimly about the hereafter, having proved his manhood, and found his niche in life.

THE OTHER SIDE. H. A. Vachell.

In this remarkable book Mr. Vachell leaves the beaten highway of romance, and grapples with the deepest problems of human personality and the unseen. It is a story of a musical genius, in whose soul worldliness conquers spirituality. When he is at the height of his apparent success, there comes an accident, and for a little soul and body seem to separate. On his return to ordinary life he sees the world with other eyes, but his clearness of vision has come too late to save his art. He pays for his earlier folly in artistic impotence. The book is a profound moral allegory, and none the less a brilliant romance.

SIR GEORGE'S OBJECTION. Mrs. W. K. Clifford.

Mrs. Clifford raises the old problem of heredity, and gives it a very modern and scientific answer. It is the story of a woman who, after her husband's disgrace and death, settles with her only daughter upon the shore of one of the Italian lakes. The girl grows up in ignorance of her family history, but when the inevitable young man appears complications begin. As it happens, Sir George, the father of the lover, holds the old-fashioned cast-iron doctrine of heredity, and the story shows the conflict between his pedantry and the compulsion of fact. It is a book full of serious interest for all readers, and gives us in addition a charming love story. Mrs. Clifford has drawn many delightful women, but Kitty and her mother must stand first in her gallery.

PRESTER JOHN. John Buchan.

This is a story which, in opposition to all accepted canons of romance, possesses no kind of heroine. There is no woman from beginning to end in the book, unless we include a little Kaffir serving-girl. The hero is a Scottish lad, who goes as assistant to a store in the far north of the Transvaal. By a series of accidents he discovers a plot for a great Kaffir rising, and by a combination of luck and courage manages to frustrate it. From beginning to end it is a book of stark adventure. The leader of the rising is a black missionary, who believes himself the incarnation of the mediaeval Abyssinian emperor Prester John. By means of a perverted Christianity, and the possession of the ruby collar which for centuries has been the Kaffir fetish, he organizes the natives of Southern Africa into a great army. But a revolution depends upon small things, and by frustrating the leader in these small things, the young storekeeper wins his way to fame and fortune. It is a book for all who are young enough in heart to enjoy a record of straightforward adventure.

LADY GOOD-FOR-NOTHING. "Q."

Sir Oliver Vyell, a descendant of Oliver Cromwell, is the British Collector of Customs at the port of Boston in the days before the American Revolution. While there he runs his head against New England Puritanism, rescues a poor girl who has been put in the stocks for Sabbath-breaking, carries her off, and has her educated. The story deals with the development of Ruth Josselin from a half-starved castaway to a beautiful and subtle woman. Sir Oliver falls in love with his ward, and she becomes my Lady and the mistress of a great house; but to the New Englanders she remains a Sabbath-breaker and "Lady-Good-for-Nothing." The scene moves to Lisbon, whither Sir Oliver goes on Government service, and there is a wonderful picture of the famous earthquake. The book is a story of an act of folly, and its heavy penalties, and also the record of the growth of two characters—one from atheism to reverence, and the other from a bitter revolt against the world to a wiser philosophy. The tale is original in scheme and setting, and the atmosphere and thought of another age are brilliantly reproduced. No better historical romance has been written in our times.

PANTHER'S CUB. Agnes and Egerton Castle.

This is the story of a world-famed prima donna, whose only daughter has been brought up in a very different world from that in which her mother lives. When the child grows to womanhood she joins her mother, and the problem of the book is the conflict of the two temperaments—the one sophisticated and undisciplined, and the other simple and sincere. The scenes are laid in Vienna and London, amid all types of society—smart, artistic, and diplomatic. Against the Bohemian background the authors have worked out a very beautiful love story of a young diplomatist and the singer's daughter. The book is full of brilliant character-sketches and dramatic moments.

TREPANNED. John Masefield.

Mr. Masefield has already won high reputation as poet and dramatist, and his novel "Captain Margaret" showed him to be a romancer of a higher order. "Trepanned" is a story of adventure in Virginia and the Spanish Main. A Kentish boy is trepanned and carried off to sea, and finds his fill of adventure among Indians and buccaneers. The central episode of the book is a quest for the sacred Aztec temple. The swift drama of the narrative, and the poetry and imagination of the style, make the book in the highest sense literature. It should appeal not only to all lovers of good writing, but to all who care for the record of stirring deeds.

THE SIMPKINS PLOT. George A. Birmingham.

"Spanish Gold" has been the most mirth-provoking of Irish novels published in the last few years, and Mr. Birmingham's new book is a worthy successor. Once more the admirable red-haired curate, "J. J.," appears, and his wild energy turns a peaceful neighbourhood into a hotbed of intrigue and suspicion. The story tells how he discovers in a harmless lady novelist, seeking quiet for her work, a murderess whose trial had been a cause celebre. He forms a scheme of marrying the lady to the local bore, in the hope that she may end his career. Once started on the wrong tack, he works out his evidence with convincing logic, and ties up the whole neighbourhood in the toils of his misconception. The book is full of the wittiest dialogue and the most farcical situations. It will be as certain to please all lovers of Irish humour as the immortal "Experiences of an Irish R. M."



THOMAS NELSON AND SONS, London, Edinburgh, Dublin, and New York.



* * * * *



Transcriber's Note:

Inconsistent hyphenation has been retained as it appears in the book. The following changes have been made:

Page 143 she must start to-day." Unexpected closing quote removed

Page 203 you musn't do anything musn't changed to mustn't

Page 235 "Indeed, I think I won't, Aunt Jeannie,' Single close quote changed to double quotes]

THE END

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