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other spirit, and I am not at all prepared to become the laughing-stock of Lincolnshire, I can tell you.”

“I wish that I could exactly make out what Cécile was doing there, contrary to her uncle's repeated orders," observed Lady Helen, ever anxious to bring back the conversation to what she conceived to be its main point.

“Ah! that is exactly it. What in life took her there, and on this day of all others ?” cried Sir Charles, emphatically striking the table with his fist. “Hadn't I desired her never to go near those Hawthornes again ? Hasn't she vowed to me more than once, till she was black in the face, that she would never attempt any proselyting nonsense about here? How came she there at all, I want to know ?”

“ You will wait sometime till you hear, Sir Charles,” remarked Lady Helen; "at least, if we are to abide by her account of the business. She will be careful not to show herself, I should say, until she thinks that other matters may have afforded some diversion to our present feelings.”

“Indeed, Lady Helen,” said St. Edmunds, “if you had witnessed all that I saw this

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other spirit, and I am not at all prepared to become the laughing-stock of Lincolnshire, I can tell you.”

“I wish that I could exactly make out what Cécile was doing there, contrary to her uncle's repeated orders,” observed Lady Helen, ever anxious to bring back the conversation to what she conceived to be its main point.

“Ah! that is exactly it. What in life took her there, and on this day of all others ?” cried Sir Charles, emphatically striking the table with his fist. “Hadn't I desired her never to go near those Hawthornes again ? Hasn't she vowed to me more than once, till she was black in the face, that she would never attempt any proselyting nonsense about here? How came she there at all, I want to know ?”

“You will wait sometime till you hear, Sir Charles," remarked Lady Helen; "at least, if we are to abide by her account of the business. She will be careful not to show herself, I should say, until she thinks that other matters may have afforded some diversion to our present feelings.”

“ Indeed, Lady Helen,” said St. Edmunds, “ if you had witnessed all that I saw this afternoon, you would think that your niece's absence might bear some other construc

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“ Construction ! destruction, rather," muttered Sir Charles. “She will be the ruin of my family and her own, that girl will be.”

“Ah! who said so from the first ?” inquired Lady Helen, in a tone which seemed to respond to its own query.

“But what was she doing there at all ?” reiterated the Baronet, who was in one of those irritable moods, which seems imperatively to seek out homoeopathic treatment. “I wish that I could get an answer to that.”

“I should be very happy indeed, Sir Charles, if I could give you an accurate and complete one, but that is not in my power," observed St. Edmunds. “I think that you will find, -however, that the death-bed message received by Miss Cécile was one to which she could not but attend.”

“Death-bed nonsense! Why on earth are such messages to come to my house, and not to the parson's ? Lucky that we had not twenty death-beds this evening instead of one, and so you would have had, I can tell you, if I had not chanced to step in, more for your good fortune than for mine, that's certain.”

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Thus did the disconsolate Baronet continue to prey upon his own annoyance, and so serious did it become, that the ultimate change of scene from the dining-room to the drawing-room afforded no relief to it, and that it even dispelled his usual evening slumbers. Our hero, finding his efforts to impart any comfort in that quarter utterly unavailing, while none was required by Lady Helen, whose grief at the occurrences of the day was tempered, if not absorbed, by some secret but intense feeling of gratulation, finally betook himself to a most conscientious perusal of the last London newspaper. He was still engrossed by this study, when, just as the tea had been brought in, the door of the room was gently opened, and, with her usual noiseless step, Cécile glided into her accustomed seat. Neither Sir Charles nor Lady Helen stirred from their place or addressed a word to her, but St. Edmunds was soon at her side.

“May I trust that you are pretty well again," whispered he, “since you have given us this most unexpected pleasure ?”

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