Molly, you’re more eloquent than you believe yourself. Look here!” holding up a large full envelope, and then quickly replacing it in her pocket, as if she was afraid of being seen. “What’s the matter, sweet one?” coming up and caressing Molly. “Is it worrying itself over that letter? Why, don’t you see these are my very own horrible letters, that I am going to burn directly, that Mr. Preston has had the grace to send me, thanks to you, little Molly—cuishla ma chree, pulse of my heart—the letters that have been hanging over my head like somebody’s sword for these two years?”

“Oh, I am so glad!” said Molly, rousing up a little. “I never thought he would have sent them. He’s better than I believed him. And now it is all over. I am so glad! You quite think he means to give up all claim over you by this, don’t you, Cynthia?”

“He may claim, but I won’t be claimed; and he has no proofs now. It is the most charming relief; and I owe it all to you, you precious little lady! Now there’s only one thing more to be done; and, if you would but do it for me——” (coaxing and caressing while she asked the question).

“Oh, Cynthia, don’t ask me; I cannot do any more. You don’t know how sick I go when I think of yesterday, and Mr. Sheepshanks’ look.”

“It is only a very little thing. I won’t burden your conscience with telling you how I got my letters, but it is not through a person I can trust with money; and I must force him to take back his twenty-three pounds odd shillings. I have put it together at the rate of five per cent., and it’s sealed up. Oh, Molly, I should go off with such a light heart, if you would only try to get it safely to him. It’s the last thing; there would be no immediate hurry, you know. You might meet him by chance in a shop, in the street, even at a party—and, if you only had it with you in your pocket, there would be nothing so easy.”

Molly was silent. “Papa would give it to him. There would be no harm in that. I would tell him he must ask no questions as to what it was.”

“Very well,” said Cynthia, “have it your own way. I think my way is the best: for, if any of this affair comes out—— But you’ve done a great deal for me already, and I won’t blame you now for declining to do any more!”

“I do so dislike having these underhand dealings with him,” pleaded Molly.

“Underhand! just simply giving him a letter from me! If I left a note for Miss Browning, should you dislike giving it to her?”

“You know that’s very different. I could do it openly.”

“And yet there might be writing in that; and there wouldn’t be a line with the money. It would only be the winding-up—the honourable, honest winding-up-of an affair which has worried me for years. But do as you like!”

“Give it me!” said Molly. “I will try.”

“There’s a darling! You can but try; and, if you can’t give it to him in private, without getting yourself into a scrape, why, keep it till I come back again. He shall have it then, whether he will or no!”

Molly looked forward to her two days alone with Mrs. Gibson with very different anticipations from those with which she had welcomed the similar intercourse with her father. In the first place, there was no accompanying the travellers to the inn from which the coach started; leave-taking in the market-place was quite out of the bounds of Mrs. Gibson’s sense of propriety. Besides this, it was a gloomy, rainy evening, and candles had to be brought in at an unusually early hour. There would be no break for six hours—no music, no reading; but the two ladies would sit at their worsted work, pattering away at small- talk, with not even the usual break of dinner; for, to suit the requirements of those who were leaving,

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