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us." It was very flattering, "I suppose I ought to go, mamma?" said Florence. Mrs. Burton was of opinion that she certainly ought to

go. "You should write to her ladyship at once," said Mrs. Burton, mindful of the change which had taken place. Florence, however, addressed her letter, as heretofore, to Mrs. Clavering, thinking that a mistake on that side would be better than a mistake on the other. It was not for her to be over-mindful of the rank with which she was about to be connected. "You won't forget your old mother now that you are going to be so grand?" said Mrs. Burton, as Florence was leaving her.


"You only say that to laugh at me," said Florence. "I expect no grandness, and I am sure you expect no forgetfulness."

The solemnity consequent upon the first news of the accident had worn itself off, and Florence found the family at the parsonage happy and comfortable. Mrs. Fielding was still there, and Mr. Fielding was expected again after the next Sunday. Fanny also was there, and Florence could see during the first half-hour that she was very radiant. Mr. Saul, however, was not there, and it may as well be said at once that Mr. Saul as yet knew nothing of his coming fortune. Florence was received with open arms by them all, and by Harry with arms which were almost too open. "I suppose it may be in about three weeks from now?" he said at the first moment in which he could have her to himself.

"Oh, Harry,-no," said Florence.

"No;-why no? That's what my mother proposes."

"In three weeks!-She could not have said that.

to think of such a thing yet at Stratton."

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"And you are so very fast at Clavering! But, Harry, we don't know where we are going to live."

"We should go abroad at first, I suppose."

"And what then? That would only be for a month or so."


Only for a month? I mean for all the winter,-and the spring. Why not? One can see nothing in a month. If we are back for the shooting next year that would do,—and then of course we should come here. I should say next winter,-that is the winter after the next,— we might as well stay with them at the big house, and then we could look about us, you know. I should like a place near to this, because of the hunting!"

Florence, when she heard all this, became aware that in talking about a month she had forgotten herself. She had been accustomed to holidays of a month's duration,-and to honeymoon trips fitted to such vacations. A month was the longest holiday ever heard of in the Chambers in the Adelphi,—or at the house in Onslow Crescent. She had forgotten herself. It was not to be the lot of her husband to earn his bread, and fit himself to such periods as business might require. Then Harry went on describing the tour which he had arranged;-which as he said he only suggested. But it was quite apparent that in this matter he intended to be paramount.

Florence indeed made no objection. To spend a fortnight in Paris;-to hurry over the Alps before the cold weather came; to spend a month in Florence, and then go on to Rome;-it would all be very nice. declared that it would suit the next year better than this.

"Suit ten thousand fiddlesticks," said Harry.

"But it is October now."

"And therefore there is no time to lose."

But she

"I haven't a dress in the world but the one I have on, and a few others like it. Oh, Harry, how can you talk in that way?"

"Well, say four weeks then from now. That will make it the seventh of November, and we'll only stay a day or two in Paris. We can do Paris next year,-in May. If you'll agree to that, I'll agree." But Florence's breath was taken away from her, and she could agree to nothing. She did agree to nothing till she had been talked into doing so by Mrs. Clavering.

"My dear," said her future mother-in-law, "what you say is undoubtedly true. There is no absolute necessity for hurrying. It is not an affair of life and death. But you and Harry have been engaged quite long enough now, and I really don't see why you should put it off. If you do as he asks you, you will just have time to make yourselves comfortable before the cold weather begins."

"But mamma will be so surprised."

"I'm sure she will wish it, my dear. You see Harry is a young man of that sort, so impetuous I mean, you know, and so eager,and so you know what I mean,-that the sooner he is married the better. You can't but take it as a compliment, Florence, that he is so eager."

"Of course I do."

"And you should reward him. Believe me it will be best that it should not be delayed." Whether or no Mrs. Clavering had present in her imagination the possibility of any further danger that might result from Lady Ongar, I will not say, but if so, she altogether failed in communicating her idea to Florence.

"Then I must go home at once," said Florence, driven almost to bewail the terrors of her position.

You can tell her

"You can write home at once and tell your mother. all that I say, and I am sure she will agree with me. If you wish it, I will write a line to Mrs. Burton myself." Florence said that she would wish it. "And we can begin, you know, to get your things ready here. People don't take so long about all that now-a-days as they used to do." When Mrs. Clavering had turned against her, Florence knew that she had no hope, and surrendered, subject to the approval of the higher authorities at Stratton. The higher authorities at Stratton approved also, of course, and Florence found herself fixed to a day with a suddenness that bewildered her. Immediately, almost as soon as the consent had been extorted from her, she began to be surrounded with incipient preparation for the

event, as to which, about three weeks since, she had made up her mind that it would never come to pass.

On the second day of her arrival, in the privacy of her bedroom, Fanny communicated to her the decision of her family in regard to Mr. Saul. But she told the story at first as though this decision referred to the living only, as though the rectory were to be conferred on Mr. Saul without any burden attached to it. "He has been here so long, dear," said Fanny, " and understands the people so well."



"I am so delighted," said Florence.

"I am sure it is the best thing papa could do ;-that is if he quite makes up his mind to give up the parish himself.”

This troubled Florence, who did not know that a baronet could hold a living.

"I thought he must give up being a clergyman now that Sir Hugh is dead ?"

"O dear, no." And then Fanny, who was great on ecclesiastical subjects, explained it all. "Even though he were to be a peer, he could hold a living if he pleased. A great many baronets are clergymen, and some of them do hold preferments. As to papa, the doubt has been with him whether he would wish to give up the work. But he will preach sometimes, you know; though of course he will not be able to do that unless Mr. Saul lets him. No one but the rector has a right to his own pulpit except the bishop; and he can preach three times a year if he likes it."

"And suppose the bishop wanted to preach four times?"

"He couldn't do it; at least, I believe not. But you see he never wants to preach at all,-not in such a place as this, so that does not signify."

"And will Mr. Saul come and live here, in this house?"

"Some day I suppose he will," said Fanny, blushing.

"And you, dear?"

"I don't know how that may be."

"Come, Fanny."

"Indeed I don't, Florence, or I would tell you. Of course Mr. Saul has asked me. I never had any secret with you about that;

have I?"

"No; you were very good."

"Then he asked me again; twice again. And then there came,oh, such a quarrel between him and papa. It was so terrible. Do you know, I believe they wouldn't speak in the vestry! Not but what each

of them has the highest possible opinion of the other. Mr. Saul couldn't marry on a curacy. When I think of it that he must have been mad."

"But you don't think him so mad now, dear?"

But of course it really seems

"He doesn't know a word about it yet; not a word. He hasn't been in the house since, and papa and he didn't speak,-not in a friendly way,

Then he came up

But he still thinks he is

-till the news came of poor Hugh's being drowned.
to papa, and, of course, papa took his hand.
going away."

"And when is he to be told that he needn't

go ?"

"That is the difficulty. Mamma will have to do it, I believe. But

what she will say, I'm sure I for one can't think."

"Mrs. Clavering will have no difficulty."

"You mustn't call her Mrs. Clavering."

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Lady Clavering then."

"That's a great deal worse.

She's your mamma now,—not quite so

much as she is mine, but the next thing to it."

“She'll know what to say to Mr. Saul.” “But what is she to say?"

"Well, Fanny,-you ought to know that. I suppose you do love him?"

"I have never told him so."

"But you will?"

"It seems so odd. Mamma will have to

turn round and say he didn't want me?"

"That would be awkward."

Suppose he were to

"He would in a minute if that was what he felt. The idea of having the living would not weigh with him a bit.”

"But when he was so much in love before, it won't make him out of love;-will it ? "

"I don't know," said Fanny. "At any rate, mamma is to see him to-morrow, and after that I suppose ;-I'm sure I don't know, but I suppose he'll come to the rectory as he used to do."

"How happy you must be," said Florence, kissing her. To this Fanny made some unintelligible demur. It was undoubtedly possible that, under the altered circumstances of the case, so strange a being as Mr. Saul might have changed his mind.

There was a great trial awaiting Florence Burton. She had to be taken up to call on the ladies at the great house,-on the two widowed ladies who were still remaining there when she came to Clavering. It was only on the day before her arrival that Harry had seen Lady Ongar. He had thought much of the matter before he went across to the house, doubting whether it would not be better to let Julia go without troubling her with a further interview. But he had not then seen even Lady Clavering since the tidings of her bereavement had come, and he felt that it would not be well that he should let his cousin's widow leave Clavering without offering her his sympathy. And it might be better, also, that he should see Julia once again, if only that he might show himself capable of meeting her without the exhibition of any peculiar emotion. He went, therefore, to the house, and having asked for Lady Clavering, saw both the sisters together. He soon found that the presence of the younger one was a relief to him.

Lady Clavering was so sad, and so peevish in her

sadness, so broken-spirited, so far as yet from recognizing the great enfranchisement that had come to her, that with her alone he would have found himself almost unable to express the sympathy which he felt. But with Lady Ongar he had no difficulty. Lady Ongar, her sister being with them in the room, talked to him easily, as though there had never been anything between them two to make conversation difficult. That all words between them should, on such an occasion as this, be sad, was a matter of course; but it seemed to Harry that Julia had freed herself from all the effects of that feeling which had existed between them, and that it would become him to do this as effectually as she had done it. Such an idea, at least, was in his mind for a moment; but when he left her she spoke one word which dispelled it. "Harry," she said, "you must ask Miss Burton to come across and see me. I hear that she is to be at the rectory to-morrow." Harry of course said that he would send her. "She will understand why I cannot go to her, as I should do,—but for poor Hermy's position. You will explain this, Harry." Harry, blushing up to his forehead, declared that Florence would require no explanation, and that she would certainly make the visit as proposed. "I wish to see her, Harry,—so much. And if I do not see her now, I may never have another chance."

It was nearly a week after this that Florence went across to the great house with Mrs. Clavering and Fanny. I think that she understood the nature of the visit she was called upon to make, and no doubt she trembled much at the coming. ordeal. She was going to see her great rival,-her rival, who had almost been preferred to her,―nay, who had been preferred to her for some short space of time, and whose claims as to beauty and wealth were so greatly superior to her own. And this woman whom she was to see had been the first love of the man whom she now regarded as her own, and would have been about to be his wife at this moment had it not been for her own treachery to him. Was she so beautiful as people said? Florence, in the bottom of her heart, wished that she might have been saved from this interview.

The three ladies from the rectory found the two ladies at the great house sitting together in the small drawing-room. Florence was so confused that she could hardly bring herself to speak to Lady Clavering, or so much as to look at Lady Ongar. She shook hands with the elder sister, and knew that her hand was then taken by the other. Julia at first spoke a very few words to Mrs. Clavering, and Fanny sat herself down beside Hermione. Florence took a chair at a little distance, and was left there for a few minutes without notice. For this she was very thankful, and by degrees was able to fix her eyes on the face of the woman whom she so feared to see, and yet on whom she so desired to look. Lady Clavering was a mass of ill-arranged widow's weeds. She had assumed in all its grotesque ugliness those paraphernalia of outward woe which women have been condemned to wear, in order that for a time they may be shorn of all the charms of their sex. Nothing could be more proper or unbecoming

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