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"Somebody must see that scar nevertheless," was the unmoved reply. "It must be proved that it is not there."
Why?" he enquired quictly. "It is really a very trivial matter after all. It cannot matter in the least whether the scar is there or not."
"There I agree," said Lady Constance. "It will be a most curious coincidence if she has a scar on her right foot, and I do not for a moment believe that there is a scar on it; but, as you say, it really cannot matter in the least."
He looked enquiringly into her face; then he rose and resumed his position with his back to the fire.
"I do not understand," he said. "There is something in this which you think important. There is something you wish to say." "Yes," she replied, "there is. But before I say it, tell me one thing. If it were in your power to cut off the entail, would you do it? Do you mean it when you say that you will never willingly see her again?"
"Mean it!" he exclaimed. "Do you doubt it? Can you doubt it, knowing all? Cannot you understand what it is to me? How I feel? Surely you can understand. The deception-the whole affair-is horrible, disgraceful; but the thought that Dunstable, and the Dunstable"
“Ah!” she exclaimed quickly, rising as she spoke and laying one of her firm, white, ungloved hands upon his arm. "Pray say no more. I do understand."
Her tone was low and full of sympathy; but she spoke truly when she said she understood. She understood now for the very first time that Lord Leftbury was a very different man to the man she had always believed him to be. His love for Mary, seemingly so very great, had been given to her because she was the last of his family, his only child, quite as much as because she was herself. And no one knowing Lord Leftbury would have ever suspected that !
Lady Constance gave a very big sigh of relief.
"Of course I understand," she continued, in the same low, sympathetic tone. "And, understanding, I no longer hesitate to tell you what I came here to say. It is an ill wind which blows nobody any good, my dear, old friend. The girl who has married Mr. Tom Atherton is not your daughter. She is no more your daughter than I am."
A sudden rush of colour surged up into the old man's face. Then it as suddenly died away, leaving him deadly pale.
He seemed unable to speak, but his eyes met hers, wide open with startled emotion and surprise.
"I can prove it," she continued quickly, her hand still on his arm. "I can explain it all. The matter lies in a nutshell in reality. Her mother, Jane Grant, put her, in her infancy, in your own child's place."
"And-?" he began, and then seemed unable to say more. "Your own child, the real Mary Dunstable, has for many months past been at Dunbarton, much loved and cared for by us all."
"Jennie?" he said slowly. "Jennie Grant? Dutton's stepdaughter?
"No," was the firm reply. "Your own daughter, Mary Dunstable; and my daughter too, if you will give her to me, and sanction her engagement to our boy, Jack."
Lord Leftbury made no reply. It almost seemed as if he had not heard what she had said.
Then he raised his eyes to a large life-sized portrait on the wall opposite him, and let them rest on it for several minutes in silence.
Lady Constance's glance followed the direction of his.
"Ah," she said quietly. "One wonders now that one never saw it before, does one not? That was one of the things that
struck me when first I knew."
"I have always seen it," said Lord Leftbury, in a curiously calm, suppressed tone of voice. "It has been a mystery to me for many years."
Then in quite a different tone he added briskly: "Can you take me back with you to Dunbarton now? We must go into this matter thoroughly, and without delay."
And Lady Constance looking up at him, noted that he had strangely altered since an hour ago. He seemed to have taken a fresh lease of life.
(To be concluded.)
BY B. M. CROKER,
Author of "Proper Pride," "PRETTY MISS Neville,"
WITH the first appearance of punkhas, and the first "notice about ice" most of the people at Mangobad flew away to Simla, Mussoorie, or Naini-Tal-chiefly to Naini-Tal. Mr. Redmond's face was an amusing study (in black) when Belle suggested in her most kittenish and effusive manner, that she should share a house with him, as George could only get two months' leave, and that it would be great fun to live together! but Mr. Redmond grimly declined this unalluring proposition in a few brief words, and subsequently (purposely) took a mansion that set the whole length of the lake, and a distance of two miles, between his abode and Mrs. Holroyd's cheap, damp, out-of-the-way little bungalow-for Belle was now nothing if not economical, and thrifty, to the verge of parsimony, save in the matter of personal adornment. Naini-Tal, named after the goddess Naini (or Nynee), is a lake which lies six thousand feet above the plains, in the lap of the Himalayas; the surrounding hills rise from the edge of the water and are covered with houses half hidden
among trees. These houses are reached by narrow paths, in some instances goat tracks, and the only means of locomotion is either on a pony's back, or in a jhampan or dandy, carried on the shoulders of four men. A jhampan-the gondola of the hills-is something between a chair and a coffin, and, to an uneducated eye, the first glimpse of Naini-Tal, with its crowds of people being borne along, suggests the victims of some frightful colliery or railway accident. But a nearer inspection shows smartly dressed ladies, and gaily painted dandies, and jhampannies in gorgeous liveries. Each memsahib dresses her bearers brilliantly, and racks her brains to devise some novelty that will distinguish her from the rest of her neighbours! You can descry her while she is yet afar off. You know where she is calling, and where she is shopping, when you see her blazing team squatting outside-with the surreptitious huka-awaiting her reappearance. Now you meet a green and yellow set, next a scarlet and blue, after that, an orange and crimson, jostling others who are all orange. What burlesques of family liveries! What travesties of monograms emblazoned on the bearers' broad chests! Naini-Tal is a pretty place, especially by moonlight, or when the surrounding hills are reflected in the lake. It is in the shape of a cup, or a great extinct crater, and you have to climb a thousand feet to get a view of the line of everlasting snows commanded, as it were, by Nunga-Devi, the "Storm Goddess," standing out sternly against the steel-blue sky. The only flat space is the Mall round the lake, and the polo ground. There are lovely walks, if you do not object to stiff climbing, and once arrived you find yourself, as it were, lost in the woods, among moss and rocks and overhanging trees with thick fringes of ferns covering their outspread branches. Here you get a peep of the lake-there of the distant blue plains. True, these walks have some drawbacks. They are excessively slippery in damp weather, and panthers lie in wait for dogs (and are particularly partial to fox terriers), moreover greedy leeches accompany the unsuspecting pedestrian to his, or her, own house. Naini-Tal is gay! What popular hill station is not? Balls, races -yes, races-regattas, and picnics; theatricals, tableaux, and concerts all succeed one another in rapid succession, and when early in May news arrivals come swarming up from the plains, the hotels are crammed, and every day half-a-dozen new sets
of jhampannies, carrying a new memsahib, appear on the Mall, and dozens of gallant sahibs come cantering up from the Brewery, with a syce clinging to their ponies' tails, who would believe in that terrible story about Friday, the 18th September, 1880, when, after two days' torrents of rain, during which everyone was a prisoner to the house, and cut off from their neighbours, there was a hollow rumble-then arose a red, dusty cloud, like fire, and when that cloud had dispersed and the mist had lifted, the Assembly Rooms, the Victoria Hotel, and several houses were gone-swept away and engulphed in a moment, and with them a hundred souls. There are occasional little landslips during the monsoon. Rocks come thundering down, tons of earth crumble off, the cart road "goes" annually, but on the whole Naini-Tal is considered as safe as its neighbours. High up on a hill among rocks and trees, in a somewhat inaccessible spot, you come across a board on which is painted "Captain Holroyd, Royal Musketeers," and near it a box for visitors' cards (which is almost always empty). If you follow the path, you arrive at a dreary-looking, one-storeyed house, with no view, and the reputation of being very damp, and of having a family of needy panthers among the surrounding rocks. If you penetrated to the drawing-room, the chances are ten to one that you would find Belle cowering over a fire with a shawl on her shoulders and "Mossoo" in her lap, and two to one in a bad temper-both mistress and dog alike victims to ennui. 'She was no one up here," she grumbled to Betty every time she saw her. "She was a Collector's niece, and asked out to big dinners every night, and taken to picnics up Diopatha and Iopatha, or down to Douglas Dale, but of course that was partly because Mr. Redmond entertained! She did not (and so much the better for Naini-Tal). They had got up theatricalspeople that knew nothing about them, that could not act one little bit, and they had never even consulted her, or asked her to take a part. Of course that was all jealousy, and pitifully transparent! They had heard of her acting at Lucknow and Mangobad, and seen the account of it in the papers, and were afraid of her cutting them all out. Her reputation had come up before her (it had indeed), and George said it was too soon after her mother's death to go to balls-George was so peculiar," and so on, in the same strain for about an hour. Belle arrayed