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surprised me a little, I confess, but it was the after-dinner conversation (when in the drawing-room we both joined her) that astonished me the most. We were talking (a "hackneyed subject to the others, but a new and fresh one to me) of the habitués of the Park. Miss — (no name, you perceive, after your rebuke) seemed knowing about horseflesh, and cunning in equestrian lore: on a sudden she turned to me. “What do you think of *Croquet's' chesnut?” she asked. I was silent, being too much startled for speech; so the young lady rattled on. “And · Croquet’herself,” she said with a laugh,“ do you admire her? I think her hardly pretty, and yet how men do rave about her!” Lord Eastham laughed. “Ask old Stareon,” he remarked; “I don't wonder at his being spoony, for she's an uncommon fine figure, and then she's so awfully ckeeky.” Oh! Mrs. Vaughan, to think that our young English girls should have sunk to this! To think that they should so have lost the delicacy and sense of
decorum of their sex, as to talk openly of women whom
Helen interrupted him with a laugh,
“My dear Mr. Brandreth,' she said, “you seem to forget that you are talking to one, of whom the world, if it chose, might
“Might if it dared ; but there are bounds to the audacity of even the world's brazen tongue, interrupted Arthur. “No, I did not, for I cannot forget to whom I am talking, though, perhaps, even to think of one so pure of life, while dwelling on those who flaunt their misdeeds shamelessly in the face of day is an offence. I firmly believe that were there more women such as you, men would be less driven to the “ Croquets,” and other such light, gamesome things for companionship. I mean were they like you in all but-'
Now, please not to cross the t's and put the dots on the i’s, and so contrive to make us both uncomfortable,' said Helen, with a smile. “I am much obliged for your compliment, and confess to have often thought with you, that if young ladies would be lively and talkative, without degenerating into slangsoft-hearted without being sentimental, and good without being straightlaced, men would appreciate them more highly, and would be less often driven to associate with women of the class you speak of. But enough of this, as I have to discourse with you concerning some dear old friends of your notforgotten past, friends who are living far from the contamination of the world, and who are, at this moment, in circumstances neither happy nor prosperous.'
There was much that Brandreth heard during that lengthened conversation which was new to him. In common with all the world, he had heard reports far from favour. able to Lady Thornleigh, for the breath of scandal, subtile and penetrating as the electric fluid, steals amongst us we know not how; and, even in the Antipodes, Arthur had heard the on-dits of an evil-thinking society. But
of Alice no intelligence had reached him. The mild light of quiet, good deeds shines very faintly in a naughty world; and of the lady he had loved Arthur had, therefore, heard no word. In the distant regions where he had been sojourning, the image of that fair girl had remained with him, pure and unsullied as a freshly gathered flower. He had remembered her through weary voyages on the stormy ocean, and through sleepless nights on desert sands (while with upturned face he watched the shooting stars); soft eyes had looked on him as though from heaven. He had pictured her to himself as the wife of his friend, and had turned from the ideal painting with a shudder. He had endeavoured to thrust her from his memory, but she would still return-return, as he fondly hoped, to bless him with her friendship and to stimulate him to good deeds. And now, for the first time, he heard that she was free, and not only free but poor, in exile, and looked down upon. Arthur rejoiced at
the thought. It might be wrong; it was doubtless selfish, but still it was deep happiness to reflect that through his means that self-devoted girl should learn what true love was, and, knowing it, should rest on his true heart for ever.
He hid neither his joy nor his hopes from Helen–from Helen who already knew so much, and to whom, nine long years before, Philip Thornleigh had not hesitated to impart his conviction that Arthur loved his sister A lice.
I shall set off for Southampton to-morrow,' said the so lately-returned traveller, 'and make for the port of St. Malo. I know the line of country well, having been once already in that direction.'
• Where have you not been ?' asked Helen.
• Never to Kelhouet,' answered Arthur. * And now, dear Mrs. Vaughan,' wish me success and happiness, and hope for me, that after all, I may not be rushing into a “fool's paradise, to few unknown.” I should not