was always the same: every word, every inflection of the voice breathed out affection and respect—nay, even admiration! And this from the nil admirari brother, who seldom carried his exertions so far!

“Ah, Roger!” he said one day. Molly caught the name in an instant, though she had not heard what had gone before. “He is a fellow in a thousand—in a thousand, indeed! I don’t believe there is his match anywhere, for goodness and real solid power combined.”

“Molly,” said Cynthia, after Mr. Osborne Hamley had gone, “what sort of a man is this Roger Hamley? One can’t tell how much to believe of his brother’s praises; for it is the one subject on which Osborne Hamley becomes enthusiastic. I’ve noticed it once or twice before.”

While Molly hesitated on which point of the large round to begin her description, Mrs. Gibson struck in—

“It just shows what a sweet disposition Osborne Hamley is of—that he should praise his brother as he does. I daresay he is a senior wrangler, and much good may it do him— I don’t deny that; but, as for conversation, he’s as heavy as heavy can be. A-great awkward fellow, to boot, who looks as if he did not know two and two made four, for all he is such a mathematical genius. You would hardly believe he was Osborne Hamley’s brother, to see him! I should not think he has a profile at all.”

“What do you think of him, Molly?” said the persevering Cynthia.

“I like him,” said Molly. “He has been very kind to me. I know he isn’t handsome like Osborne.”

It was rather difficult to say all this quietly; but Molly managed to do it, quite aware that Cynthia would not rest till she had extracted some kind of an opinion out of her.

“I suppose he will come home at Easter,” said Cynthia, “and then I shall see him for myself.”

“It’s a great pity that their being in mourning will prevent their going to the Easter charity-ball,” said Mrs. Gibson plaintively. I shan’t like to take you two girls, if you are not to have any partners. It will put me in such an awkward position. I wish we could join on to the Towers party. That would secure you partners; for they always bring a number of dancing men, who might dance with you after they had done their duty by the ladies of the house. But really everything is so changed since dear Lady Cumnor has been an invalid, that, perhaps, they won’t go at all.”

This Easter ball was a great subject of conversation with Mrs. Gibson. She sometimes spoke of it as her first appearance in society as a bride, though she had been visiting once or twice a week all winter long. Then she shifted her ground, and said she felt so much interest in it, because she would then have the responsibility of introducing both her own and Mr. Gibson’s daughter to public notice, though the fact was that pretty nearly every one who was going to this ball had seen the two young ladies—though not their ball-dresses— before. But, aping the manners of the aristocracy as far as she knew them, she intended to “bring out” Molly and Cynthia on this occasion, which she regarded in something of the light of a presentation at Court. “They are not out yet,” was her favourite excuse, when either of them was invited to any house to which she did not wish them to go, or when they were invited without her. She even made a difficulty about their “not being out,” when Miss Browning —that old friend of the Gibson family—came in one morning to ask the two girls to come to a friendly tea and a round game afterwards; this mild piece of gaiety being designed as an attention to three of Mrs. Goodenough’s grandchildren —two young ladies and their school-boy brother—who were staying on a visit to their grandmamma.

“You are very kind, Miss Browning; but, you see, I hardly like to let them go—they are not out, you know, till after the Easter ball.”

“Till when we are invisible,” said Cynthia, always ready with her mockery to exaggerate any pretension of her mother’s. “We are so high in rank that our sovereign must give us her sanction, before we can play a round-game at your house.”

  By PanEris using Melati.

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