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      Me? she said. Oh! thats very kind of you. I should like it awfully. I only go for a drive in the carriage, and its hot and stuffy, and makes me feel as if I couldnt breathe.

      The cost? said the duke, easily. It was estimated, I believe, by the talented gentleman who formulated the scheme. I have no doubt the cost would be large, butwith a smileI do not see why that should be any obstacle. Similar developments have been made on other estates, and I imagine that what Levonshire and Radogan have done we can do.

      And then she was so beautiful! He had never seen a lovelier face.



      Tabitha made no such remarks. She was singularly silent and thoughtful, as she stood looking down at the crowded room from her point of vantage on the kitchen table. She had only eyes for one figurethe willowy form in the glistening white satin gown, with the feathery Japanese chrysanthemums, a little crushed and faded by this time; or perhaps it may be said for two figures, since one followed the other as the shadow follows the substance. She saw them waltzing together, when supper was in full progress, and the room comparatively clear. She saw the graceful head inclining towards his shoulder, the slender waist held in his firm embrace; and it seemed to her that the waltz was an invention of the Arch Enemy. She thought of it very much as people thought seventy years ago when Byron wrote his poetical denunciation of the new dance. She saw those two moving slowly towards an adjacent ante-room, where banks of flowers, and a couple of sofas and low easy-chairs made a retreat which was half boudoir, half conservatory. She saw them moving side by side, talking to each other in tones so confidential that his head bent low over hers each time she spoke; and then she watched them sitting just within the doorway, at an angle where she could see their faces, and attitudes, still in the same confidential converse, she with downcast eyes,[Pg 67] and he leaning forward with his elbow on his knee, and looking up at her as he talked.


      He wrote to Mr. Crowther next morning, requesting the favour of half an hour's private conversation upon a very serious matter. He proposed to call upon Mr. Crowther at twelve o'clock, if that hour would be convenient. The bearer of the note would wait for an answer.


      "I'm afraid you are not enjoying your dinner."She went out to walk down her depression before teatime, if possible. She went along a narrow path by the river, then[Pg 4] turned into a road that skirted those green pastures which rose sheer till the ragged edge of the topmost boundary seemed to touch the dim, grey sky. She passed the village inn, deadly quiet at this season and at this hour. She passed the half-dozen decent cottages, and the three or four genteeler houses, each in its neatly kept garden, and she walked with quick, light step along the wet road, her useful tailor-gown well clear of the mud, her stick striking the hedgerow now and then, as she swung it to and fro in dreamy thought.