“Your mother will feel your both going away, won’t she? But, of course, young men will always have to live away from home.”

“Yes,” he replied. “Still, she feels it a good deal; and I’m not satisfied about her health either. You will go out and see her sometimes, will you? she is very fond of you.”

“If I may,” said Molly, unconsciously glancing at her stepmother. She had an uncomfortable instinct that, in spite of Mrs. Gibson’s own perpetual flow of words, she could, and did, hear everything that fell from Molly’s lips.

“Do you want any more books?” said he. “If you do, make a list out, and send it to my mother before I leave, next Tuesday. After I am gone, there will be no one to go into the library and pick them out.”

As soon as they had left, Mrs. Gibson began her usual comments on the departed visitors.

“I do like that Osborne Hamley! What a nice fellow he is! Somehow, I always do like eldest sons. He will have the estate, won’t he? I shall ask your dear papa to encourage him to come about the house. He will be a very good, very pleasant acquaintance for you and Cynthia. The other is but a loutish young fellow, to my mind; there is no aristocratic bearing about him. I suppose he takes after his mother, who is but a parvenue, I’ve heard them say at the Towers.”

Molly was spiteful enough to have great pleasure in saying—

“I think I’ve heard her father was a Russian merchant, and imported tallow and hemp. Mr. Osborne Hamley is extremely like her.”

“Indeed! But there’s no calculating these things. Anyhow, he is the perfect gentleman in appearance and manner. The estate is entailed, is it not?”

“I know nothing about it,” said Molly.

A short silence ensued. Then Mrs. Gibson said—

“Do you know, I almost think I must get dear papa to give a little dinner-party, and ask Mr. Osborne Hamley? I should like to have him feel at home in this house. It would be something cheerful for him after the dulness and solitude of Hamley Hall. For the old people don’t visit much, I believe?”

“He’s going back to Cambridge next week,” said Molly.

“Is he? Well, then, we’ll put off our little dinner till Cynthia comes home. I should like to have some young society for her, poor darling, when she returns.”

“When is she coming?” said Molly, who had always a longing curiosity for this same Cynthia’s return.

“Oh! I’m not sure; perhaps at the New Year—perhaps not till Easter. I must get this drawing-room all new-furnished first; and then I mean to fit up her room and yours just alike. They are just the same size, only on opposite sides of the passage.”

“Are you going to new-furnish that room?” said Molly, in astonishment at the never-ending changes.

“Yes; and yours, too, darling; so don’t be jealous!”

“Oh, please, mamma, not mine,” said Molly, taking in the idea for the first time.

“Yes, dear! You shall have yours done as well. A little French bed, and a new paper, and a pretty carpet, and a dressed-up toilet-table and glass, will make it look quite a different place.”

  By PanEris using Melati.

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