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"I did come across an odd little echo of the past only the other day," the policeman admitted with an effort. "I had breakfast one morning with some missionaries in an out-of-the-way corner of

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“I’m afraid that’s impossible.”

[pg 60]

When a little girl, I lived with my people on a handsome farm three miles distant to the church we attended.

A silly thing to think about! What did it matter? What did anything matter? Life was a dance, and Joan, thank heaven! could dance. Peter was just nothing at all. Nothing at all. Nothing at all.

For the first week she got on well enough. She snubbed Guy Greaves and other eager slaves who would willingly have placed their time, their dog-carts, their ponies--everything that they possessed--at her disposal. She played in "married" sets of tennis, and dined and consorted with the most

and Trixie looked elated. She introduced "George" to "Gommie" with scarcely concealed pride and triumph.

Gertrude Creswell was not wrong in her supposition that Mr. Benthall intended asking her to become his wife. It is not often that mistakes are made in such matters, despite all we read of disappointed maidens and blighted hopes. Life is so very practical in this portion of the nineteenth century, that, except in very rare cases, even love-affairs scarcely care to avail themselves of a halo of romance, of that veil of mystery and secrecy which used to be half the charm of the affair. "The bashful virgin's sidelong looks of love" are now never seen, in anything like good society, where the intention of two young persons to marry as soon as--sometimes before--they have met, and the "understanding" between them is fully recognised by all their friends; while as to the "matron's glance which would such looks reprove," it is entirely obsolete, and never brought into play, save when the bashful virgins bend their sidelong looks of love on good-looking young paupers in the government offices or the army--a proceeding which it is but fair to say the bashful virgins "of the period" very rarely indulge in. Gertrude Creswell was as unlike a "girl of the period," in the present delightful acceptation of that phrase, as can well be imagined; that is to say, she was modest, frank, simple, honest, and without guile; but she was a woman, and she knew perfectly that she had engaged George Benthall's attention, and become the object of his affection, although she had had no previous experience in the matter. They had lived such quiet lives, these young ladies, and had slid so tranquilly from the frilled-trouser-wearing and les-graces-playing period of childhood, to the long skirts, croquet, and flirtation of marriageable age, that they had hardly thought of that largest component part of a girl's day-dream, settling in life. There was with them no trace of that direct and unmistakable line of demarcation known as "coming out"--that mountain-ridge between the cold dreary Switzerland of lessons, governesses, midday dinner, back-board, piano practice, and early bed, and the lovely glowing Italy of balls, bouquets, cavaliers, croquet, Park, Row, crush-room, country-house, French novel, and cotillon at five a.m. So Gertrude had never had a love-affair of any kind before; but she was very quiet about it, and restrained her natural tendency to gush, principally for Maude's sake. She thought it might seem unkind in her to make a fuss, as she described it, about her having a lover before Maude, who was as yet unsuited with that commodity. It puzzled Gertrude immensely, this fact of her having proved attractive to any one while Maude was by; she was accustomed to think so much of her elder sister, on whom she had endeavoured to model herself to the best of her ability, that she could not understand any one taking notice of her while her sister was present. Throughout her life, with her father, with her mother, and now with her uncle, Gertrude Creswell had always played the inferior part to her sister; she was always the humble confidante in white muslin to Maude in Tilburina's white satin, and in looks, manner, ability, or disposition, was not imagined to be able to stand any comparison with the elder girl.

[40]

1.“‘Look at brave Sam Watkins, boys, charging right in the cannon’s mouth.’

2.[Pg 310]

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