of it; and a new gown, or a day’s pleasure, or some hot-house fruit, or some piece of elegance that can be seen and noticed in one’s drawing-room, carries the day—and good-bye to prettily-decked looking- glasses! Now here, money is like the air they breathe. No one even asks or knows how much the washing costs, or what pink ribbon is a yard. Ah! it would be different if they had to earn every penny as I have! They would have to calculate, like me, how to get the most pleasure out of it. I wonder if I am to go on all my life toiling and moiling for money? It’s not natural. Marriage is the natural thing; then the husband has all that kind of dirty work to do, and his wife sits in the drawing-room like a lady. I did, when poor Kirkpatrick was alive. Heigho! it’s a sad thing to be a widow.”

Then there was the contrast between the dinners which she had to share with her scholars at Ashcombe—rounds of beef, legs of mutton, great dishes of potatoes, and large batter-puddings—with the tiny meal of exquisitely cooked delicacies, sent up on old Chelsea china, that was served every day to the earl and countess and herself at the Towers. She dreaded the end of her holidays, as much as the most home-loving of her pupils. But at this time that end was some weeks off; so Clare shut her eyes to the future, and tried to relish the present to its fullest extent. A disturbance to the pleasant, even course of the summer days came in the indisposition of Lady Cumnor. Her husband had gone back to London, and she and Mrs. Kirkpatrick had been left to the very even tenor of life, which was according to my lady’s wish just now. In spite of her languor and fatigue, she had gone through the day when the school- visitors came to the Towers, in full dignity, dictating clearly all that was to be done, what walks were to be taken, what hot-houses to be seen, and when the party were to return to the “collation.” She herself remained indoors, with one or two ladies who had ventured to think that the fatigue or the heat might be too much for them, and who had therefore declined accompanying the ladies in charge of Mrs. Kirkpatrick, or those other favoured few to whom Lord Cumnor was explaining the new buildings in his farmyard. “With the utmost condescension,” as her hearers afterwards expressed it, Lady Cumnor told them all about her married daughters’ establishments, nurseries, plans for the education of their children, and manner of passing the day. But the exertion tired her; and, when every one had left, the probability is that she would have gone to lie down and rest, had not her husband made an unlucky remark in the kindness of his heart. He came up to her and put his hand on her shoulder.

“I’m afraid you’re sadly tired, my lady?” he said.

She braced her muscles, and drew herself up, saying coldly—

“When I am tired, Lord Cumnor, I will tell you so.” And her fatigue showed itself during the rest of the evening in her sitting particularly upright, and declining all offers of easy-chairs or footstools, and refusing the insult of a suggestion that they should all go to bed earlier. She went on in something of this kind of manner, as long as Lord Cumnor remained at the Towers. Mrs. Kirkpatrick was quite deceived by it, and kept assuring Lord Cumnor that she had never seen dear Lady Cumnor looking better, or so strong. But he had an affectionate heart, if a blundering head; and, though he could give no reason for his belief, he was almost certain his wife was not well. Yet he was too much afraid of her to send for Mr. Gibson without her permission. His last words to Clare were—

“It’s such a comfort to leave my lady with you; only don’t you be deluded by her ways. She’ll not show she’s ill, till she can’t help it. Consult with Bradley” (Lady Cumnor’s “own woman,”—she disliked the new-fangledness of “lady’s-maid”); “and, if I were you, I’d send and ask Gibson to call—you might make any kind of pretence”—and then the idea he had had in London of the fitness of a match between the two coming into his head just now, he could not help adding—“Get him to come and see you, he’s a very agreeable man; Lord Hollingford says there’s no one like him in these parts; and he might be looking at my lady while he was talking to you, and see if he thinks her really ill. And let me know what he says about her.”

But Clare was just as great a coward about doing anything for Lady Cumnor which she had not expressly ordered, as Lord Cumnor himself. She knew she might fall into such disgrace, if she sent for Mr. Gibson without direct permission, that she might never be asked to stay at the Towers again; and the life there,

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