tight ; they never met him anywhere.
" That was a grand affair at his house the other
day," said Lord Sauffrenden.
The Admiral pricked up his ears.
" Ah ? eh ? I didn't hear of it. Was it "
" A tenant's or workman's dinner, or something of
that sort. We saw the fireworks from our windows."
"Indeed! ah! very nice; ve â€” ry nice," conde-
scendingly. "These kind of things, now, are just
what we want. Very nice â€” delightful. Cornelia
there, is up to her eyes in them. We must have one
at the Hall â€” eh, Corny ? Ask the Eeverend about
it " (by this name he was accustomed to designate
his brother), "and we'll have Smith over to give
us the cue."
298 MR SMITH:
Mr Smith, however, was again unable to swallow
the tempting bait, and no more was heard of the
treat at the Hall.
Mr Smith was suffering, as Mrs Hunt had said he
would, from the effects of walking about on the wet
grass among the fireworks.
The warmth of the rooms, with the draughts of
cold air inseparable from such an occasion, had per-
haps as much to do with it as the wet grass.
So, at least, the doctor said. He, like the butcher,
having prognosticated no good accruing to himself
from the new-comer, was, like him, agreeably sur-
It was true that he had long since ceased to mourn
over Mr Smith's bachelorhood. If Maria could only
be installed mistress of the Hill, he thought he should
never regret anything again. Never regret in the
dark, that is to say.
He had begun to hope that this almost too fair
vision might really come to pass. With his own
eyes he had seen the host escorting his daughter
about at the feast; and his wife had, almost with
tears of joy, assured him of his attentions to her
during the earlier portion of the evening. " Miss
A PART OF HIS LIFE. 299
Fulton ! Pall ! " said she ; " I don't care that for
Miss Fulton ! I believe it was all a cock-and-bull
story of that creature, Lyddy Bain's."
"Their man rode in at the gate, as I left this
morning, however," said her husband, uneasily.
" Brown horse ? "
" Yes, yes ; I know the fellow. James Gait. I
had to attend him when he broke his collar-bone. I
spoke to him to-day.''
" Then I tell you what, Eobert; just speak a little
about Maria now and then, and see how he takes it.
It will be easy enough when you are up there so
The doctor took her advice. The result was satis-
factory. The horizon again cleared.
Mr Smith showed no reluctance to enter on the
subject. He even politely continued it. He admired
the doctor's woollen comforter, Maria's work. One
was eagerly offered him, and only declined because
he had never worn one in his life. On this occasion
it was earnestly recommended. After such a chill
and sore throat, Dr Hunt considered that he must be
wrapped up. He could not answer for the con-
sequences if he would not wear a comforter, and in-
300 MR SMITH:
deed (laughing) he should set his daughter to work
that very day. Thus beset, of course Mr Smith had
yielded. The comforter was to be worn; and ]\Irs
Hunt hurried out directly she heard of it, to buy the
best double Berlin the village could supply.
" Ah, I wish she could have made a waistcoat like
that Helen ToUeton sent to some one of her gentle-
men," said she, regretfully. "I don't know how it is,
my girls' fingers are all thumbs. It is a perfect
miracle Maria's knowing how to do this, even."
Maria made no difficulty about the undertaking.
She had become much more reconciled to her cruel
situation than she had ever thought possible. By
her father's account, Mr Smith was so much in love.
Clare, indeed, was a little sceptical. " Papa meets
things half-way, you know," said she. ''He hears
bits, and then he puts in the rest."
To her surprise, however, Maria demurred to this.
She still declared, indeed, that it was dreadful to
have it so, but it became apparent that she did not
quite desire to have the dread removed. Having
tasted the sweets of consequence, she could not all
at once resign them. She began to think that Clare,
with all her wisdom, might be mistaken sometimes.
A PART OF HIS LIFE. 3OI
Mamma, who coiild always find out if tliere were
anything to complain of, was satisfied ; and Clare
knew as well as she did, that if there really were
nothing in it, mamma would go on dreadfully.
As for herself she hated the idea, but (sagaciously)
she could not shut her eyes to facts. Mr Smith had
hung about her all that night ; and had certainly
never spoken one half as much to any of the other
girls â€” not even to the ToUetons, not even to Helen.
"Helen kept out of his way," said Clare,
" So did I, I'm sure ; as much as ever I could.
I only w^alked with him because I couldn't help it.
Helen always shoved me back, and then got away
herself. How could mamma fancy Helen would
ever look at him? All evening she was running
away from him."
" How could he speak to her, then ? "
" I never said he did, Clare ; I know he didn't.
But then I tried to get away from him too, and he
followed me. I did not wish to speak to him any
more than she, but I couldn't help it."
Maria, being thus convinced, set to work at her
comforter, and all went smoothly in the doctor's
302 MR SMITH:
house, with only a dim shadow in the distance loom-
ing in the shape of Miss Fulton.
At the end of a fortnight Mr Smith came down-
He had had another hurried visit from Sir George
Lorrimer, with whom at this time he had business
transactions. Sir George had summoned him to
town, but hearing he was unwell, got his papers to-
gether, and ran down to the Hill instead.
He stayed a day or two, and when he was gone,
the stagnation in the neighbourhood began to com-
municate itself in an alarming manner to the lonely
Only a fortnight before, and all had been so gay,
so lively ; now the life and the spirit of it was gone.
A common experience in country life. Everything
at a standstill. People you have been meeting three
or four times a- week, suddenly fall out of your path.
An enchanted sleep steals over the place.
Into this sleep the neighbourhood of Eastworld
Mr Smith thought often and wearily of Freelands.
Why did he hear nothing of his friends there ? Was
he forgotten ? He thought so.
A PART OF HIS LIFE. 303
But he was not. It was they who thought him
Had it only been known that Sir George Lorrimer
had left, all would have been right. But they thought
Sir George was there. If so, it was impossible to
carry on matters. Lily indeed suggested an invita-
tion to dinner to both gentlemen ; but Helen, more
wise, shook her head.
Sir George was all very well for once. The lun-
cheon had been a success, but it would be foolish to
risk more. Besides, they had no right to ask him.
He might think it officious, and it would never do
if he were to express this opinion to Mr Smith.
" When he brought him here I" said Lily.
" Yes, I know it could be done. And if we had
the chance of meeting him, and asking him our-
selves, it might be different ; but to send a note up !
I don't know quite how Mr Smith would take it."
"He should not have asked to bring him here,
"You know, Lily, he never asked. It was we
ourselves insisted on his bringing the old friend."
" Ay, the old friend," said Lily, laughing, " but
not the young man. Not that sort of friend at all.
304 MR SMITH:
You know best, Nelly. But I should be afraid if we
take no notice of Mm for so long ; lie will think we
are drawing back."
" Nonsense ! If he does, I can soon make up for
it. How stupid of papa not to find out when Sir
George is going ! "
" Going, my dear ! " exclaimed her father, awoke
from a gentle doze by the sound of " papa." " I for-
got to tell you. Sir George is gone."
" Gone ? When ? To-day ? "
" Oh dear no, some days ago. It was that stupid
Jessamy's mistake. I went in on Monday to get
some â€” stuff, and he had a long story about a gentle-
man who was staying at the Hill, and had been
downâ€” of course I thought he meant the minute
before. So then I thought it as well not to inquire
at the post-of&ce. Indeed I was glad to get off, for I
have had to go after so many people there, that they
must think I know curiously little of the movements
of my friends. By the way, those new people came
to the Lodge yesterday. We must call at once,
"But how did you find out about Sir George?"
A PART OF HIS LIFE. 305
She and Lily were both looking rather crest-
fallen. Sir George gone â€” what had Mr Smith been
about ? Gone too, perhaps.
"I met Hunt. He had just been to the Hill.
Smith has had a nasty feverish attack. Cold and
sore throat, and that sort of thing. Sir George had
been gone some days."
The girls' faces brightened. A cold was infinitely
better than a friend. A cold could be treated for,
easily. Their misgivings gave way to cheerful hope.
"Do you know," said Mr Tolleton, striking his
thumbs in his waistcoat-pockets, and looking serious,
*' I think I ought to have called upon Sir George.
It never occurred to me till too late, but I am afraid
he will have taken it amiss. What do you think,
Oh, nonsense, papa ! " replied Helen, not very re-
spectfully. " Sir George must have been here only
two days, and how were we to be supposed to know
he was here at all ? If it had been a longer visit ! "
" Well, but the time before. The time he came to
" He left almost directly. I found out that for
VOL. I. U
306 MR SMITH:
you. I meant you to have called if he had only
stayed three days. But I don't think we want
him. The thing is now, what can we do for Mr
Mr Tolleton looked astonished at this trifling way
of dismissing a grave business. Sir George Lorrimer
had been neglected. He had not been called upon.
It was the girls who were to blame. Why had he
not been packed off with his cards, and the inevi-
table note in his pocket ? They ought to have seen
to it, and now they did not care. Helen had called
Helen was deep in thought. " Could you not lend
him books ? "
"Who? Mr Smith? My dear, he has a fine
library. What books could I take him that he
has not got already ? "
" He might consider it an attention."
"Pay him attention in some other way. There
are plenty of things he would ratlier have than
books," said Mr Tolleton, judging by himself. " Go
up and see him."
" Papa ! But you can go."
A PART OF HIS LIFE. 307
"Ay, I knew it would be that. A nasty new
avenue, too, that spoils all my boots. Well, I sup-
pose I must, though he won't thank me for coming,
much. Can't you come with me, Helen ? "
"No indeed, papa, it would never do."
" Why not ? We could go by the plantation and
the short cut, and nobody be the wiser."
'' Mr Smith would."
" Well, he would be delighted."
"I daresay he might, but all the same "
Then she stopped to consider. "If I felt sure he
would not think it improper, I should like to go very
" Improper ! What an idea ! " cried Lily. " Helen
playing propriety ? "
"You never will see," retorted Helen, angrily,
" that it is not I. I don't care two straws about
those things myself, I'm not such a prig. But I
certainly do not wish to take all the trouble of going
up to see Mr Smith, if it is only to go down in his
Then shâ‚¬ thought of her walk to the view. To go
up, under her father's wing, and pay ^Ir Smith a
308 MR SMITH:
visit as an invalid, and an old gentleman, was not,
she well knew, half as improper in reality as their
taking a private walk together by appointment.
But there was something in going to the hovM.
There was something in facing the servants, in walk-
ing past the windows. She gave to every considera-
tion its due weight.
" If I do go " she began.
" Go ? Yes, by all means," interrupted her sister.
" Go, and suggest tolu and paregoric, and all the
rest of it. Go, and be as charming as ever you can.
Now is your time. You will do him more good than
all the medicines in Dr Hunt's medicine-chest. I
would go too, only I think it might look more affec-
tionate your going alone."
Helen looked dubious. She did not care for its
looking so very affectionate, but neither did she wish
for her sister's company. She liked to have !Mr
Smith all to herself.
" Well, will you come ? " inquired her father.
" I think I will. It is not as if he could think
himself a young man. And we can go, as you say,
by the plantation. We might merely ask how he is,
A PART OF HIS LIFE. 309
you know; and if we are asked in, you might go,
and leave me outside, or something of that sort. If
he is sitting in the drawing-room, he will see us pass,
and know I am there. Then if he asks me to go in,
I could do it. After all, I think T will go."
END OF THE FIRST VOLUME.
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