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away on such an insignificant little dowdy!" was her sister-in-law's mental comment, after they had exchanged greetings.
“What a showy, hold-looking person, to be the daughter of poor old quiet Lady Woolston!” was, on the other hand, Maria's view of the case. And awkward and stammering became her assurances of regret that her husband was not at home to inaugurate their acquaintance.
“I did not come to see my brother. I came to see you, and scold you, and you only, for having been so long in town without apprising us,” replied Mrs. Molyneux, with fluent assu
“ When you were established at Edmonton,” she continued, (never having exactly realised to herself the locality of her brother's suburban retreat, which Gerald Molyneux comprised under the generic name of “ back slums,")"it was impossible for poor people like ourselves, possessing only one miserable attempt at a brougham-horse, to drive so far as a stage out of town. But on settling near us, you ought really to have let me know where you were to be found. It is by mere accident that I discovered vou.”
Maria, veracity itself, answered what was seldom uttered in that lofty apartment - the exact truth. “ Mr. Woolston was much hurt that you
had taken so little trouble to find us out in our troubles. As
As you did not even write to condole with him on the death of his poor little boy, he did not wish just now to recal himself to your recollection.”
“So like John !-John was always so touchy —always the oddest creature in the world,” said the unabashed visitor, settling her numerous bracelets. “Why, I might as well pretend to be offended that he did not condescend to communicate to us the good fortune that has befallen him. I know nothing of it, except through the newspapers. Not a very affectionate mode of correspondence! However, I have overlooked that,”—she continued, with a smile of forbearance. “ As far as Gerald and myself are concerned, we are anxious that there should be an end to all family disunion; and I have little doubt that, at our instigation, a general reconciliation might be managed. It is time that my brother should resume his natural position at Harrals."
“So I have long thought,” said the astonished Maria. “But now, I confess I almost despair. My husband feels deeply hurt,—deeply injured,and has lost all desire for the reunion to which we once looked fondly forward.”
“At all events, you will not refuse your good offices towards promoting it,” said Mrs. Molyneux, a little surprised at finding the broken reed possess more pith than she had anticipated. “Blessed, we are told, are the peace-makers. And if you and I, my dear Maria, set about establishing a general pacification, depend upon it, we succeed. The world will think us all the wiser; and we, I hope, shall feel the happier."
Her · dear Maria” sighed heavily. She was beginning to doubt whether any thing would
make her happier. The tardy condescensions of Harrals would scarcely suffice to warm up her disconsolate heart.
“And where is my little niece ?” inquired Mrs. Molyneux, glancing round the vast halffurnished room, as if she expected to find her hid behind a chiffonnière, or ensconced in a china vase.
"I am dying to see her. I have a boy four years older, and a little girl six months younger.
Janetta must come and spend a day with her cousins.”
Mrs. Woolston, who, till this proposal, had been rather irritated by her fine-lady sister-inlaw's officious patronage, melted at the sound of her little daughter's name, pronounced for the first time by one of her nearest of kin. She had not fancied that it was even known to the cold-hearted Woolston family.
Netta is gone to take a drive with my sister. I should like you to have seen her. She is thought quite a Woolston!” said she, more graciously.
“So much the worse for her, for we have no pretensions to hereditary beauty. But Gerald, who caught a glimpse of her yesterday in your carriage, as we were setting down John at the Alfred, told me she was as fair as daylight, which, you know, is distinctively a Pennington characteristic.”
Till that moment, Maria had never fancied that the Penningtons possessed characteristics. No one had ever done poor Denny Cross the honour to suppose so.
But she was inexpressibly pleased that Mr. Molyneux should have remarked the waxen complexion and flaxen locks of her pretty little girl.
“ She will be four years old in a week or two,” added Mrs. Molyneux, to the increasing surprise of her sister-in-law, to whose artless mind it never occurred that Emma and her husband had been studying the baronetage preparatory to the visit, and were well up in family dates.
“Yes, four years old in a fortnight,” she