Then his thoughts turned to Egypt and the tenth plague. It seemed to him that if the little Egyptians had been anything like Ernest, the plague must have been something very like a blessing in disguise. If the Israelites were to come to England now he should be greatly tempted not to let them go.

Mrs Theobald's thoughts ran in a different current. `Lord Lonsford's grandson - it's a pity his name is Figgins; however blood is blood as much through the female line as the male indeed, perhaps even more so if the truth were known. I wonder who Mr Figgins was. I think Mrs Skinner said he was dead; however, I must find out all about him. It would be delightful if young Figgins were to ask Ernest home for the holidays. Who knows but he might meet Lord Lonsford himself or at any rate some of Lord Lonsford's other descendants?'

Meanwhile the boy himself was still sitting moodily before the fire in Mrs Jay's room. `Papa and Mamma,' he was saying to himself, `are much better and cleverer than anyone else, but, I, alas! shall never be either good or clever.'

Mrs Pontifex continued:

`Perhaps it would be best to get young Figgins on a visit to ourselves first. That would be charming. Theobald would not like it, for he does not like children; I must see how I can manage it, for it would be so nice to have young Figgins - or stay! Ernest shall go and stay with Figgins and meet the future Lord Lonsford, who I should think must be about Ernest's age, and then if he and Ernest were to become friends Ernest might ask him to Battersby, and he might fall in love with Charlotte. I think we have done most wisely in sending Ernest to Dr Skinner's. Dr Skinner's piety is no less remarkable than his genius. One can tell these thinks at a glance, and he must have felt it about me no less strongly than I about him. I think he seemed much struck with Theobald and myself - indeed, Theobald's intellectual power must impress anyone, and I was showing, I do believe, to my best advantage. When I smiled at him and said I left my boy in his hands with the most entire confidence that he would be as well cared for as if he were at my own house, I am sure he was greatly pleased. I should not think many of the mothers who bring him boys can impress him so favourably, or say such nice things to him as I did. My smile is sweet when I desire to make it so. I never was perhaps exactly pretty, but I was always admitted to be fascinating. Dr Skinner is a very handsome man - too good on the whole I should say for Mrs Skinner. Theobald says he is not handsome, but men are no judges, and he has such a pleasant bright face. I think my bonnet became me. As soon as I get home I will tell Chambers to trim my blue and yellow merino with -' etc., etc.

All this time the letter which has been given above was lying in Christina's private little Japanese cabinet, read and re-read and approved of many times over, not to say, if the truth were known, rewritten more than once though dated as in the first instance - and this, too, though Christina was fond enough of a joke in a small way.

Ernest, still in Mrs Jay's room, mused onward. `Grown-up people,' he said to himself, `when they were ladies and gentlemen, never did naughty things, but he was always doing them. He had heard that some grown-up people were worldly, which of course was wrong, still this was quite distinct from being naughty, and did not get them punished or scolded. His own Papa and Mamma were not even worldly; they had often explained to him that they were exceptionally unworldly; he well knew that they had never done anything naughty since they had been children, and that even as children they had been nearly faultless. Oh! how different from himself! When should he learn to love his Papa and Mamma as they had loved theirs? How could he hope ever to grow up to be as good and wise as they, or even tolerably good and wise? Alas! never. It could not be. He did not love his Papa and Mamma, in spite of all their goodness both in themselves and to him. He hated Papa, and did not like Mamma, and this was what none but a bad and ungrateful boy would do after all that had been done for him. Besides, he did not like Sunday; he did not like anything that was really good; his tastes were low and such as he was ashamed of. He liked people best if they sometimes swore a little, so long as it was not at him. As for his Catechism and Bible readings he had no heart in them. He had never attended to a sermon in his life. Even when he

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