“Ah, yes!” said he. “Of course you must be of double importance, now Miss Kirkpatrick has left you. I saw her marriage in the ‘Times’ yesterday.”

His tone of voice was changed in speaking of her; but her name had been named between them, and that was the great thing to accomplish.

“Still,” he continued, “I think I must urge my father’s claim for a short visit, and all the more, because I can really see the apparent improvement in your health since I came— only yesterday. Besides, Molly,” it was the old familiar Roger of former days who spoke now, “I think you could help us at home. Aimée is shy and awkward with my father, and he has never taken quite kindly to her—yet I know they would like and value each other, if some one could but bring them together—and it would be such a comfort to me, if this could take place before I have to leave.”

“To leave—are you going away again?”

“Yes. Have you not heard? I didn’t complete my engagement. I’m going again in September for six months.”

“I remember. But somehow I fancied—you seemed to have settled down into the old way at the Hall.”

“So my father appears to think. But it is not likely I shall ever make it my home again; and that is partly the reason why I want my father to adopt the notion of Aimée’s living with him. Ah, here are all the people coming back from their walk. However, I shall see you again; perhaps this afternoon we may get a little quiet time, for I’ve a great deal to consult you about.”

They separated then, and Molly went upstairs very happy; very full and warm at her heart; it was so pleasant to have Roger talking to her in this way, like a friend; she had once thought that she could never look upon the great brown-bearded celebrity in the former light of almost brotherly intimacy, but now it was all coming right. There was no opportunity for renewed confidences that afternoon. Molly went a quiet decorous drive as fourth, with two dowagers and one spinster; but it was very pleasant to think that she should see him again at dinner, and again to-morrow. On the Sunday evening, as they all were sitting and loitering on the lawn before dinner, Roger went on with what he had to say about the position of his sister-in-law in his father’s house; the mutual bond between the mother and grandfather being the child, who was also, through jealousy, the bone of contention and the severance. There were many details to be given, in order to make Molly quite understand the difficulty of the situations on both sides; and the young man and the girl became absorbed in what they were talking about, and wandered away into the shade of the long avenue. Lady Harriet separated herself from a group and came up to Lord Hollingford who was sauntering a little apart, and, putting her arm within his with the familiarity of a favourite sister, she said—

“Don’t you think that your pattern young man, and my favourite young woman, are finding out each other’s good qualities?”

He had not been observing as she had been.

“Whom do you mean?” said he.

“Look along the avenue; who are those?”

“Mr. Hamley and—is it not Miss Gibson? I can’t quite make out. Oh! if you’re letting your fancy run off in that direction, I can tell you it’s quite waste of time. Roger Hamley is a man who will soon have a European reputation!”

“That’s very possible, and yet it doesn’t make any difference in my opinion. Molly Gibson is capable of appreciating him.”

  By PanEris using Melati.

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