gave the civilian’s hand a little squeeze and laughingly placed him upon it. As for herself, she placed herself on the bed—not on the bottle and plate, you may be sure—on which Jos might have reposed, had he chosen that seat; and so there she sat and talked with her old admirer. “How little years have changed you,” she said with a look of tender interest. “I should have known you anywhere. What a comfort it is amongst strangers to see once more the frank honest face of an old friend!”

The frank honest face, to tell the truth, at this moment bore any expression but one of openness and honesty: it was, on the contrary, much perturbed and puzzled in look. Jos was surveying the queer little apartment in which he found his old flame. One of her gowns hung over the bed, another depending from a hook of the door; her bonnet obscured half the looking-glass, on which, too, lay the prettiest little pair of bronze boots; a French novel was on the table by the bedside, with a candle, not of wax. Becky thought of popping that into the bed too, but she only put in the little paper night-cap with which she had put the candle out on going to sleep.

“I should have known you anywhere,” she continued; “a woman never forgets some things. And you were the first man I ever—I ever saw.”

“Was I really?” said Jos. “God bless my soul, you— you don’t say so.”

“When I came with your sister from Chiswick, I was scarcely more than a child,” Becky said. “How is that, dear love? Oh, her husband was a sad wicked man, and of course it was of me that the poor dear was jealous. As if I cared about him, heigho! when there was somebody—but no—don’t let us talk of old times”; and she passed her handkerchief with the tattered lace across her eyelids.

“Is not this a strange place,” she continued, “for a woman, who has lived in a very different world too, to be found in? I have had so many griefs and wrongs, Joseph Sedley; I have been made to suffer so cruelly that I am almost made mad sometimes. I can’t stay still in any place, but wander about always restless and unhappy. All my friends have been false to me—all. There is no such thing as an honest man in the world. I was the truest wife that ever lived, though I married my husband out of pique, because somebody else—but never mind that. I was true, and he trampled upon me and deserted me. I was the fondest mother. I had but one child, one darling, one hope, one joy, which I held to my heart with a mother’s affection, which was my life, my prayer, my—my blessing; and they—they tore it from me—tore it from me”; and she put her hand to her heart with a passionate gesture of despair, burying her face for a moment on the bed.

The brandy-bottle inside clinked up against the plate which held the cold sausage. Both were moved, no doubt, by the exhibition of so much grief. Max and Fritz were at the door, listening with wonder to Mrs. Becky’s sobs and cries. Jos, too, was a good deal frightened and affected at seeing his old flame in this condition. And she began, forthwith, to tell her story—a tale so neat, simple, and artless that it was quite evident from hearing her that if ever there was a white-robed angel escaped from heaven to be subject to the infernal machinations and villainy of fiends here below, that spotless being—that miserable unsullied martyr, was present on the bed before Jos—on the bed, sitting on the brandy-bottle.

They had a very long, amicable, and confidential talk there, in the course of which Jos Sedley was somehow made aware (but in a manner that did not in the least scare or offend him) that Becky’s heart had first learned to beat at his enchanting presence; that George Osborne had certainly paid an unjustifiable court to her, which might account for Amelia’s jealousy and their little rupture; but that Becky never gave the least encouragement to the unfortunate officer, and that she had never ceased to think about Jos from the very first day she had seen him, though, of course, her duties as a married woman were paramount—duties which she had always preserved, and would, to her dying day, or until the proverbially bad climate in which Colonel Crawley was living should release her from a yoke which his cruelty had rendered odious to her.

Jos went away, convinced that she was the most virtuous, as she was one of the most fascinating of women, and revolving in his mind all sorts of benevolent schemes for her welfare. Her persecutions

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