early times when he had treated the little girl with a courtesy which the young woman gratefully remembered. I don’t think it was his wealth, accomplishments, or position that most attracted Polly, though these doubtless possessed a greater influence than she suspected. It was that indescribable something which women are quick to see and feel in men who have been blessed with wise and good mothers. This had an especial charm to Polly, for she soon found that this side of his character was not shown to everyone. With most girls, he was very like the other young men of his set, except perhaps in a certain grace of manner, which was as natural to him as his respect for all womankind. But with Fanny and Polly, he showed the domestic traits and virtues which are more engaging to womanly women than any amount of cool intellect or worldly wisdom.

Polly had seen a good deal of him during her visits at the Shaws’, where he was intimate, owing to the friendship between Madam and his mother; but she had never thought of him as a possible lover for either Fanny or herself, because he was six or eight years older than they, and still sometimes assumed the part of a venerable Mentor, as in the early days. Lately this had changed, especially towards Polly, and it flattered her more than she would confess even to herself. She knew he admired her one talent, respected her independence, and enjoyed her society; but when something warmer and more flattering than admiration, respect, or pleasure crept into his manner, she could not help seeing that one of the good gifts of this life was daily coming more and more within her reach, and began to ask herself if she could honestly receive the gift, and reward the giver.

At first she tried to think she could; but unfortunately hearts are so “contrairy” that they won’t be obedient to reason, will, or even gratitude. Polly felt a very cordial friendship for Mr. Sydney, but not one particle of the love which is the only coin in which love can be truly paid. Then she took a fancy into her head that she ought to accept this piece of good fortune for the sake of the family, and forget herself. But this false idea of self-sacrifice did not satisfy, for she was not a fashionable girl, trained to believe that her first duty was to make “a good match”, and never mind the consequences, though they rendered her miserable for life. Polly’s creed was very simple: “If I don’t love him, I ought not to marry him, especially when I do love somebody else, though everything is against me.” If she had read as many French novels as some young ladies, she might have considered it interesting to marry, and under the circumstances suffer a secret anguish to make her a romantic victim. But Polly’s education had been neglected, and after a good deal of natural indecision, she did what most women do in such cases, thought she would “wait and see”.

The discovery of Fanny’s secret seemed to show her something to do, for if the “wait-and-see” decision was making her friend unhappy, it must be changed as soon as possible. This finished Polly’s indecision, and after that night she never allowed herself to dwell upon the pleasant temptation which came in a guise particularly attractive to a young girl with a spice of the old Eve in her composition. So day after day she trudged through the dull back streets, longing for the sunny park, the face that always brightened when it saw her coming, and most of all the chance of meeting—well, it wasn’t Trix.

When Saturday came, Polly started as usual for a visit to Beck and Bess, but couldn’t resist stopping at the Shaws’, to leave a little parcel for Fan, though it was calling time. As she stepped in, meaning to run up for a word, if Fanny should chance to be alone, two hats on the hall table arrested her.

“Who is here, Katy?”

“Only Mr. Sydney and Master Tom. Won’t you stop a bit, Miss Polly?”

“Not this morning, I’m rather in a hurry;” and away went Polly, as if a dozen eager pupils were clamouring for her presence. But as the door shut behind her, she felt so left out in the cold, that her eyes filled, and when Nep, Tom’s great Newfoundland, came blundering after her, she stopped and hugged his shaggy head, saying softly, as she looked into the brown, benevolent eyes, full of almost human sympathy,—

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