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THE MARRIAGES.

I.

turning her bright, hard eyes on the

colonel. “Won't you stay a little longer?' “Oh, I don't do that sort of thing! the hostess said, holding the girl's hand he replied, in a tone of resentment just and smiling. “It's too early for every perceptible to his daughter. She saw in one to go; it's too absurd.” Mrs. it that he thought Mrs. Churchley might Churchley inclined her head to one side have done him a little more justice. and looked gracious ; she held up to her But what made the honest soul think face, in a vague, protecting, sheltering that she was a person to look to for a way, an enormous fan of red feathers. perception of fine shades ? Indeed, the Everything about her, to 'Adela Chart, shade was one that it might have been was enormous. She had big eyes, big a little difficult to seize the difference teeth, big shoulders, big hands, big rings between “going on” and coming to a and bracelets, big jewels of every sort dinner of twenty people. The pair were and many of them. The train of her in mourning; the second year had not crimson dress was longer than any other; lightened it for Adela, but the colonel her house was huge ; her drawing-room, had not objected to dining with Mrs. especially now that the company had Churchley, any more than he had obleft it, looked vast, and it offered to jected, at Easter, to going down to the the girl's eyes a collection of the largest Millwards’, where he had met her, and sofas and chairs, pictures, mirrors, and where girl had her reasons for beclocks that she had ever beheld. Was lieving him to have known he should Mrs. Churchley's fortune also large, to meet her. Adela was not clear about account for so many immensities? Of the occasion of their original meeting, this Adela could know nothing, but she to which a certain mystery attached. In reflected, while she smiled sweetly, back Mrs. Churchley's exclamation now there at their entertainer, that she had better was the fullest concurrence in Colonel try to find out. Mrs. Churchley had at Chart's idea ; she did n't say, “ Ah, yes, least a high-hung carriage drawn by the dear friend, I understand !” but this tallest horses, and in the Row she was was the note of sympathy she plainly to be seen perched on a mighty hunter. wished to sound. It immediately made She was high and expansive herself, Adela say to her, “Surely you must be though not exactly fat; her bones were going on somewhere yourself.” big, her limbs were long, and she had “Yes, you must have a lot of places,” a loud, hurrying voice, like the bell of the colonel observed, looking at her a steamboat. While she spoke to his shining raiment with a sort of invidious daughter she had the air of hiding from directness. Adela could read the tacit Colonel Chart, a little shyly, behind the implication : “You're not in sorri. :) wide ostrich fan. But Colonel Chart desolation.” was not a man to be either ignored or Mrs. Churchley turned away frl eluded.

her at this, waiting just a moment before “Of course every one is going on to answering. The red fan was up again, something else,” he said. “I believe and this time it sheltered her from Adela. there are a lot of things to-night.” "I'll give everything up — for you,"

“ And where are you going ? ” Mrs. were the words that issued from behind Churchley asked, dropping her fan and it. Do stay a little. I always think

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this is such a nice hour. One can really rable mother, so clever, so unerring, so talk," Mrs. Churchley went on. The perfect - how in the precious days her colonel laughed; he said it was n’t fair. mother had practiced that art! Oh, But their hostess continued, to Adela, her mother, her irrecoverable mother ! “Do sit down; it's the only time to One of the pictures that she was looking have any talk.” The girl saw her father at swam before her eyes. Mrs. Churchsit down, but she wandered away, turn- ley, in the natural course, would have ing her back and pretending to look at begun immediately to climb staircases. a picture. She was so far from agree- Adela could see the high bony shouling with Mrs. Churchley that it was an ders, and the long crimson tail, and the hour she particularly disliked. She was universal coruscating nod wriggle their conscious of the queerness, the shyness, business-like way through the rest of the in London ; of the gregarious flight of night. Therefore she must have had guests, after a dinner, the general sauve her reasons for detaining them. There qui peut and panic fear of being left were mothers who thought every one with the host and hostess.

wanted to marry their eldest son, and ally she always felt the contagion, al- the girl asked herself if she belonged ways conformed to the flurry. Besides, to the class of daughters who thought she felt herself turning red now, flushed every one wanted to marry their fawith a conviction that had come over ther. Her companions left her alone;

. her and that she wished not to show. and though she did n't want to be near

Her father sat down on one of the them, it angered her that Mrs. Churchbig sofas with Mrs. Churchley ; fortu- ley did n't call her. That proved that nately, he was also a person with a pre- she was conscious of the situation. She sence that could hold its own. Adela would have called her, only Colonel did n't care to sit and watch them while Chart had probably murmured, “Don't.” they made love, as she crudely formu- That proved that he also was conscious. lated it, and she cared still less to join The time was really not long ten in their conversation. She wandered minutes at the most elapsed - when he further away, went into another of the cried out, gayly, pleasantly, as if with a bright, “ handsome,” rather nude rooms little jocular reproach, “I say, Adela,

they were like women dressed for a we must release this dear lady!” He ball - where the displaced chairs, at spoke, of course, as if it had been Adela's awkward angles to each other, seemed fault that they lingered. When they to retain the attitudes of bored talkers. took leave, she gave Mrs. Churchley, Her heart beat strangely, but she con- without intention and without defiance, tinued to make a pretense of looking at but from the simple sincerity of her anxthe pictures on the walls and the orna- iety, a longer look into the eyes than she ments on the tables, while she hoped had ever given her before. Mrs. Churchthat, as she preferred it, it would be ley's onyx pupils reflected the question ; also the course that her father would they seemed to say, “ Yes, I am, if that's like best. She hoped “awfully,” as she what

you want to know ! would have said, that he would n't think What made the case worse, what her rude. She was a person of courage, made the girl more sure, was the siand he was a kind, an intensely good- lence preserved by her companion in the natured man ; nevertheless, she was a brougham, on their way home. They good deal afraid of him. At home it rolled along in the June darkness from had always been a religion with them to Prince's Gate to Seymour Street, each be nice to the people he liked. How, in looking out of a window in conscious the old days, her mother, her incompa- dumbness; watching without seeing the

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hurry of the London night, the flash of cisely because it would be so difficult. lamps, the quick roll on the wood of She asked herself, indeed, why he should hansoms and other broughams. Adela

Adela tell Godfrey, when he had not taken the had expected that her father would say occasion

their drive home was an ocsomething about Mrs. Churchley; but casion to tell herself. However, she when he said nothing, it was, strange- wanted no announcing, no telling; there ly, still more as if he had spoken. In was such a horrible clearness in her Seymour Street he asked the footman mind that what she now waited for was if Mr. Godfrey had come in, to which only to be sure her father would n't the servant replied that he had come leave his room.

At the end of ten minin early and gone straight to his room. utes she saw that this particular danAdela had perceived as much, without ger was over, upon which she came out saying so, by a lighted window in the and stole up to Godfrey. Exactly what third story; but she contributed no re she wanted to say to him first, if her mark to the question. At the foot of father counted on the boy's greater inthe stairs her father halted a moment, dulgence, and before he could say anyhesitating, as if he had something on his thing, was, “ Don't forgive him ; don't, mind; but what it amounted to, appar- don't!” ently, was only the dry "Good-night” He was to go up for an examination, with which he presently ascended. It poor fellow, and during these weeks his was the first time since her mother's lamp burned till the small hours. death that he had bidden her good-night was for the diplomatic service, and there without kissing her. They were a kiss was to be some frightful number of coming family, and after her mother's death petitors; but Adela had great hopes of the habit had taken a fresh spring. She him — she believed so in his talents, and had left behind her such a general pas- she saw, with pity, how hard he worked. sion of regret that in kissing each other This would have made her spare him, they seemed to themselves a little to be not trouble his night, his scanty rest, kissing her. Now, as, standing in the if anything less dreadful had been at hall, with the stiff watching footman (she stake. It was a blessing, however, that could have said to him angrily, “Go one could count upon his coolness, young away !") planted near her, she looked as he was — his bright, good-looking diswith unspeakable pain at her father's cretion. Moreover, he was the one who back while he mounted, the effect was would care most. If Leonard was the of his having withheld from other and eldest son he had, as a matter of still more sensitive lips the touch of his course, gone into the army, and was in OWN.

India, on the staff, by good luck, of a He was going to his room, and after governor-general it was exactly this a moment she heard his door close that would make him comparatively inThen she said to the servant, “ Shut up different. His life was elsewhere, and the house (she tried to do everything his father and he had been in a measure her mother had done, to be a little of military comrades, so that he would be what she had been, conscious only of deterred by a certain delicacy from promediocrity), and took her own way up- testing; he would n't have liked his stairs. After she had reached her room father to protest in an affair of his. she waited, listening, shaken by the ap Beatrice and Muriel would care,

but prehension that she should hear her fa- they were too young to speak, and this ther come out again and mount to God was just why her own responsibility was frey's room. He would go up to tell so great. him, to have it over without delay, pre Godfrey was in working-gear-shirt

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and trousers and slippers and a beautiful you and I are; and it 's dreadful of him silk jacket. His room felt hot, though a to want to be.” window was open to the summer night; “Well, don't make yourself niserathe lamp on the table shed its studious ble till you 're sure," the young man light over a formidable heap of textbooks said. and

papers, and the bed showed that he But his sister showed him confidently had flung himself down to think out a that she was sure, from the way the pair problem. As soon as she got in she had behaved together and from her fasaid to him, “Father's going to marry ther's attitude on the drive home. If Mrs. Churchley ! ”

Godfrey had been there he would have She saw the poor boy's pink face turn seen everything ; it could n't be expale. “How do you know ? "

plained, but he would have felt. When “I've seen with my eyes. We've he asked at what moment the girl had been dining there — we've just come first had her suspicion, she replied that home. He's in love with her — she's it had all come at once, that evening ; in love with him; they 'll arrange it.” or that at least she had had no con

“Oh, I say !” Godfrey exclaimed, scious fear till then. There had been incredulous.

signs for two or three weeks, but she “He will, he will, he will !” cried the had n't understood them girl; and with this she burst into tears. the day Mrs. Churchley had dined in

Godfrey, who had a cigarette in his Seymour Street. Adela had thought it hand, lighted it at one of the candles on odd then that her father had wished to the mantelpiece as if he were embar- invite her, in the quiet way they were rassed. As Adela, who had dropped living"; she was a person they knew so into his armchair, continued to sob, he little. He had said something about said, after a moment, “ He ought n't to her having been very civil to him, and - he ought n't to."

that evening, already, she had guessed “ Oh, think of mamma think of that he had been to Mrs. Churchley's mamma!” the girl went on.

oftener than she had supposed. To-night “ Yes, he ought to think of mamma,' it had come to her clearly that he had and Godfrey looked at the tip of his been to see her every day since the day cigarette.

she dined with them ; every afternoon, “ To such a woman as that, after about the hour she thought he was at her!"

his club. Mrs. Churchley was his club, “ Dear old mamma! said Godfrey,

she was just like a club. At this smoking.

Godfrey laughed; he wanted to know Adela rose again, drying her eyes. what his sister knew about clubs. She “ It's like an insult to her; it's as if he was slightly disappointed in his laugh, denied her.” Now that she spoke of it, slightly wounded by it, but she knew she felt herself tremendously exalted. perfectly what she meant: she meant “ It's as if he rubbed out at a stroke all that Mrs. Churchley was public and the years of their happiness."

florid, promiscuous and mannish. They were awfully happy,” said “Oh, I dare say she's all right,” said Godfrey.

Godfrey, as if he wanted to get on with “ Think what she was think how his work. He looked at the clock on no one else will ever again be like her!” the mantelshelf; he would have to put the girl cried.

in another hour. “I suppose he's not very happy now," “ All right to come and take darling Godfrey continued vaguely.

mamma's place — to sit where she used “Of course he is n't, any more than to sit, to lay her horrible hands on her

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things ?” Adela was appalled — all the “Ah, why did she leave us ? Why more that she had not expected it at did she leave us?” her brother's apparent acceptance of such “ Yes, why indeed ?” the young man a prospect.

sighed, disengaging himself with a moveHe colored; there was something in ment of oppression. her passionate piety that scorched him. She glared at him with her tragic eyes as if he had profaned an altar. “Oh, I

II. mean nothing will come of it.”

“ Not if we do our duty,” said Adela. Adela was so far right as that by the “Our duty ? "

end of the week, though she remained “You must speak to him tell him certain, her father had not made the anhow we feel; that we shall never for- nouncement she dreaded. What made give him, that we can't endure it.” her certain was the sense of her changed

" He 'll think I'm cheeky,” returned relations with him of there being Godfrey, looking down at his papers, between them something unexpressed, with his back to her and his hands in something of which she was as conscious his pockets.

as she would have been of an unhealed “ Cheeky, to plead for her memory?” wound. When she spoke of this to God“ He 'll say it 's none of my

business.' frey, he said the change was of her own “ Then you believe he 'll do it?" making, that she was cruelly unjust to cried the girl.

the governor. She suffered even more • Not a bit. Go to bed!”

from her brother's unexpected perver" I'll speak to him," said Adela, as sity; she had had so different a theory pale as a young priestess.

about him that her disappointment was “ Don't cry out till you ’re hurt; wait almost an humiliation, and she needed till he speaks to you."

all her fortitude to pitch her faith lower. “He won't, he won't!” the girl de- She wondered what had happened to clared. “He 'll do it without telling us." him and why he had changed. . She

Her brother had faced round to her would have trusted him to feel right again; he started a little at this, and about anything, above all about such a again, at one of the candles, lighted his matter as this. Their worship of their cigarette, which had gone out. She mother's memory; their recognition of looked at him a moment; then he said. her sacred place in their past, her exquisomething that surprised her.

site influence in their father's life, his "Is Mrs. Churchley very rich?" fortunes, his career, in the whole history

“I have n't the least idea. What has of the family and welfare of the house that to do with it?"

accomplished, clever, gentle, good, Godfrey puffed his cigarette. “Does beautiful, and capable as she had been, a she live as if she were?”

woman whose soft distinction was uni“She's surrounded with vulgar lux- versally proclaimed, so that on her death

one of the Princesses, the most august “Well, we must keep our eyes open,” of her friends, had written Adela such said Godfrey. “ And now you must a note about her as princesses were let me get on.” He kissed his sister, as understood

very

seldom to write: their if to make up for dismissing her, or for hushed tenderness over all this was a his failure to take fire; and she held kind of religion, and also a sort of him a moment, burying her head on his honor, in falling away from which there shoulder. A wave of emotion surged was a semblance of treachery. This was through her; she broke out with a wail : not the way people usually felt in Lon

ury.”

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