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Then a shiver ran through his whole frame, his eyes strained outwards as though they would burst from their sockets, a bloody foam rose to the lips that were vainly trying to shape some word, his form seemed to stretch out, he groaned terribly and then collapsed.

“ Lancross,” I cried quickly. “Come here. Can you do anything for this poor boy?”

The doctor came at once, and with one glance at the young ghastly face, exclaimed with professional brevity: "Nothing. He is dead.” Nevertheless he unbuttoned the gaily-faced tunic and threw it open and the ensanguined shirt, crying as he did so : “My God! A woman !” *

It was but too true.

One glance at the snowy throat and breast was enough to show me that the poor creature who had died in my arms a couple of minutes before was a woman.

I laid the body down gently, and with a last look at the pale countenance, which assumed a tranquil expression in death, I walked away.

I could not stay to see the body stripped and buried in the shallow hole, which the French peasants had dug by the wayside, where her companions were already lying, and as I walked slowly back to Villers-la-Montagne, I speculated endlessly as to what queer freak of fortune could have brought that poor girl into such a position, to meet such a fate.

Many were the curious and dreadful sights I saw while with the Aid Society in '70, but never one that impressed me so painfully as the death of that German maiden at Villers-laMontagne.

The Prussians were not slow in profiting by the lesson then taught them by the loss of their men, for on the next occasion that they made a forced requisition on a village in the neighbourhood of Longwy, they compelled the whole of the inhabitants to come out and bivouac with them in a large open field until daybreak, so as to prevent anyone again stealing away to that fort and getting them treated to another taste of the qualities of their nine-pounders.

* This is a true story. The incident really occurred during the Franco-Prussian War.

Drawn Blank.

BY MRS. ROBERT JOCELYN. Author of "THE M. F. HE'S DAUGHTER,” “ £100,000 VERSUS GHOSTS,”

“THE CRITON HUNT MYSTERY,” etc., etc.

CHAPTER XLIII.

HER BEST FRIEND.

MANY weeks had gone by since Jennie had been installed at Dunstable as Lord Leftbury's daughter.

That she was his daughter, had been proved beyond all doubt. Many people wondered very much that Lord Leftbury's deep devotion to Mary should so quickly and readily have been swept aside by a devotion to Jennie which apparently was even deeper still. That that former love of his had been slain at a blow, they failed to understand, just as they had failed to understand in former days the nature of that love itself. That the blow levelled at it had been a heavy one, everybody knew of course; but how heavy, not a living soul even suspected, except Lady Constance Bleak, Doctor Sleek, and himself.

He never said a word to anyone upon the subject; and he silenced Aunt Elizabeth by a glance if she tried to speak; so nobody ever knew how bitter was the hatred that old love of his had turned to, when he discovered that the object of it had not only usurped the place of his only child, but had done it knowingly.

Lord Leftbury's devotion to his supposed daughter had been built upon the foundation of a far deeper love for his daughter's mother. That older, deeper love of his had known no bounds; and although it was more than eighteen years since the late Lady Leftbury's death, that same old love, untouched by time, still occupied an indisputable first place in Lord Leftbury's heart. It had blinded him to Mary's faults; silenced the voice of his better judgment, when that better judgment had suggested that she was not quite such a perfect being as he might have wished ; and influenced, almost more than he knew, his conduct towards the daughter who, unlike his wife as any

woman could be unlike another, was, he believed, nevertheless his wife's child.

She had been all that had been left to him of the past. He would have done anything in the world for her. He would have condoned almost any fault, and might even have so far put himself and his own interests aside as to have pardoned her for marrying young Atherton. That would have been hard, very hard, because it would have affected Dunstable and the Dunstable interests; but he might have done even that-for her mother's sake. What he could not pardon was the manner in which she had deceived him. She had deliberately deceived him and lied to him; and he could not forgive that, even for the sake of the wife whose own conduct had been as honourable and straightforward as his own, and who, had she lived, would have pardoned that deceit and those lies no whit more readily than he could do himself.

No! he could not have forgiven that! How much less could he forgive her for that older deception, that usurpation of his daughter's place, that suppression of the knowledge that she was not his daughter at all? How much less could he forgive her for keeping him in ignorance of the true state of affairs ?

That may be imagined.

It was bitter to him, very bitter indeed, that for eighteen years he had unknowingly bestowed everything he had it in his power to bestow upon the wrong woman. Bitter indeed to know that for eighteen years the daughter of Jane Grant had been tenderly cared for at Dunstable, while his Helen's child had been looked upon in her childhood as an interloper, and then discarded and sent to his gamekeeper's cottage to be brought up there as best she might, and as such children are brought up.

That had been bitter enough; but it was the remembrance of those six months during which Mary, had she willed it, could have remedied the evil, which he found more bitter still.

Terrible as the mistake had been, and deeply as it had personally affected him, he was far too just a man to have visited unjust displeasure upon Mary, because she had unknowingly occupied a wrong place. No! In his inmost heart he might have felt that he owed her a grudge for it; but he would never have permitted her to suspect it. He would assuredly have sympathized with her for the loss of that position which Fate had placed her in for so many years, to take away from her at last. He would have sympathized—and done it in a material, practical manner.

Assuredly. Had it not been for those last six months. As it was there was no sympathy at all, material or otherwise. He knew that in this also she had lied to him, had willingly deceived; and it was hardly likely that the man, to whom deceit in any shape or form was an unpardonable sin, would condone such an extremely grave and unpardonable deceit as this.

Mary had indeed, with her own hands severed for ever the last links of Lord Leftbury's regard. And bitterly she now blamed herself, not for having deceived the man who had for years treated her as a daughter, but for having so bungled in her way of doing it that her deceit had been found out.

She saw it all very clearly now, of course. How easy it would have been to have concealed the fact that she had ever discovered the truth, and to have appeared totally free from blame in the matter. If only she had not made that fatal mistake! If only she had feigned complete ignorance about that scar!

She had not been married long before she discovered what a great mistake her marriage had been. The discovery would have completely crushed many women, but it did not crush Mary. Her lack of heart and feeling stood her in good stead. Tom's open disgust at the turn affairs had taken rather amused her at first than otherwise ; she was quite clever enough to see why he had married her, and she felt a sort of triumphant satisfaction, that while trying to make a tool of her he should have been rewarded by the proverbial fate of fools himself.

That he should have married her for the sake of her fortune and position, naturally annoyed her extremely ; but she was one of those women to whom revenge is especially sweet, and in her revenge she found a balm that, during those early days, in the first flush of her indignation, soothed her ruffled feelings very considerably.

The Athertons were most unpleasant, too, now that it was known that she was a nobody ; and they displayed their unpleasantness in a manner characteristic of their class, in a coarse, vulgar, petty way, sadly lacking in refinement. But for the Athertons she cared not a whit. She curled her lips disdainfully, and cast supercilious glances at them, one and all. She might herself be a nobody, but she had lived for eighteen years amongst people of a very different calibre; and she found an especial pleasure in letting her new relatives know it.

She told herself that Tom's indifference, and the Athertons' anger could be borne. She was very well able to take care of herself, and she would soon teach Master Tom that for his own sake it would be prudent to be civil. But there was one thing which really was unbearable. She had discovered that she had married a poor man! That, at his father's death, instead of being millionaires they would be paupers !

And this fact to Mary was far more bitter than all the rest. She could have hardened herself sufficiently to bear all the rest with stolid indifference ; but not this; not poverty! Anything but this very poverty with which she now stood face to face.

Disgrace also stood facing her ; but for that she cared much less. It stood facing her certainly ; but she was not certain yet that it would do so openly. Doctor Sleek and Lord Leftbury, she knew, must know the truth; but that it had never reached Tom's ears was certain ; nor yet the Athertons'; and she was already beginning to hope that it might never do so. Lord Leftbury was no doubt furious with her; but she knew him well enough to know that even in his fury he was too true a gentleman to spread broadcast the story of her disgrace. She grew more hopeful every day, as it passed, that on the subject of that scar he not only was keeping silent himself, but had laid strict injunctions upon Doctor Sleek to do the same.

Had it not been so she would assuredly have been cut by the county, and as it was she was not cut by it. Her marriage, beyond all doubt had been a shock to it, but on the whole, knowing nothing of the ins and outs of the case, the county rather took her part than otherwise. It considered Lord Leftbury was treating her badly. It seemed to those who only knew the outline of the case, that Fate had dealt unkindly towards her. and that Lord Leftbury might have done something to lessen, in some small degree, the blow which the loss of her position and everything she had until recently possessed, must have been to her. That he should so bitterly resent her marriage, since she was not his daughter and only the child of his nurse, nobody could quite understand; considering the circumstances she had done well for herself, and even his best friends gave it as their

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