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than you—you'll fall in with this mysterious young woman, and then, if you find out that she has been true and honest, acting up to some highflown crotchet of her own, regarding gratitude or atonement, you'll ask her to marry you; if she is weak enough—(don't be angry)—if she is weak enough to take you at your word, you'll live to curse the day you didn't take the advice I am giving you, and wait to hear the story from your brother.”

Gerald had waxed eager as he spoke, and it required all Roger's affection for him to keep down the hot anger the words caused.

"If that is the way I am to be lectured, I'll thank you to keep your advice till I ask for it." And Roger spat out his cigar.

“It's honest advice, Roger." “That may be, I believe

so, but it doesn't fit me ; I've no intention of making a fool of myself, or cursing myself either ; I simply want to be sure. It's all very well for you, who don't feel a rap about the girl, talking so coolly—I daresay I could too, if I was in your place—but it's different with me ; I've beaten down this love-infatuation, whatever you care to call it-I've made myself believe I did not care for the girl, and fancied that I loved others ; I've tried to think she loved my brother, and for his sake kept my thoughts off her-and it's all come down to this, that I must see her, and take my fate as it offers; there, you may think me a fool if you like, Gerald, I've made a clean breast of it, and you'll stand by me-won't you ?"

Gerald laid his hand upon his shoulder.

“To be sure I will ; you're a dear lad, but you must listen to reason here. The girl left you voluntarily, she has never let you learn anything of her, and from all you hear it seems pretty evident that she followed Harry—though whether because she loved him or not, is to my reading doubtful-she is not with him now, and is, if a sister of charity, safe enough ; surely the most reasonable plan is to wait until Harry clears up the mystery.

“ I've thought of that, too, but I tell you I cannot wait-I must learn the story from Rhoda—I don't want to hear it from Harry. I don't want to have a single point of difference with him when he comes back to us; and if-if there is any truth in her following him for love, I dare not trust myself to hear it from him first. So, you see, I'd best have my own way, I can fight my own battles ; she'll tell me the truth, and whatever it is, the thing will be over before I see Harry. Consent to stay here, Gerald, while I am away, and I'll promise to do nothing more than find out the truth, without telling you."

"If I could be quite sure I was not in the way~" “In the way, man? What, in heaven's name, do you mean ?” "I was thinking of last night, that's all." Roger knew what he meant, but did not know what to say; had Silvia

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not been his sister there would have been little difficulty in talking the matter over in all its various bearings; as it was, he felt tongue-tied, and knowing this Gerald went on

“ Anyhow I must go up to town for a day or two, but I may come down again if—but we'll talk it over when I see you. If you really put your plan of going after the girl into force, you'll not forget my caution, Roger.”

And then they turned up the walk leading to the stables, where arrangements pending the morrow's meet were made.

Ever since Gerald's announcement of his next day's journey had taken her by surprise during dinner, Lady Wimborne had been worrying herself with endless conjectures as to his possible reason for leaving Thornhill. Directly he and Roger entered the drawingroom, she came up.

“What has happened to make you leave us, Gerald ? I thought you were to stay the winter.”

"The old spirit of roving, Lady Wimborne. I was not meant for a home life.”

“That's just what he's been telling me, mother,” said Roger ; " but he's amenable to reason, I think, so I'll leave him at your mercy. I am going to string up Willy's nerves with the prospect of a capital day to-morrow.”

“ Then you are tired of us, Gerald," said Lady Wimborne ; “is that the truth ?"

“I am tired of myself, tired of the purposeless idle life I see before me. There is nothing for me to do for you here now, I must get away and learn to trust myself, before I venture back to Thornhill.”

Lady Wimborne did not answer him. She had nothing to say to such wild talk. She thought he was harping on the old string, and felt angry with him for hinting ever so obscurely at the forbidden subject. She thought of her conversation with Captain Elmes, and was half sorry she had said anything, if Gerald was going to banish himself ; the slight hope that had been stealing into her mind, that he and Silvia might one day come to understand each other, was taken away from her. She was angry with Gerald, and yet her heart thrilled, and her lips refused to form any articulate answer ; and then, before she could decide upon

; what to say, Charley joined them, and the opportunity was gone.

Gerald made no effort to be near Silvia that night ; several times when she looked up she met his eyes, and when she went to bed the look she had seen in them haunted her. He was ready to help her on to her horse next morning ; and as he drew the folds of her habit straight, he looked up, and speaking low, said

“Do you remember how I once promised to tell you a story, Sil ? Well, if you like to hear it, I'll tell it when I come back; unless, indeed, you've heard a sweeter one in the meantime. Good-bye, and God bless you.”

He had taken hold of her hand, and pretending to arrange the bridle, stooped and touched the wrist with his lips. No one saw the kiss, but Charley caught a glimpse of Silvia's face; and vaulted into his saddle with a muttered wish that that day's hunting would be his last.

And then, while they rode down the avenue, Gerald stood watching, sadly enough, for Charley was close to Silvia's right hand, and he saw nothing in the somewhat graver countenance of the captain, to do more than confirm his fears that the crisis had come.

There was little time for conjecture, the dog-cart had come round when the horses did, and the man, looking at his watch, reminded him, "They had only half-an-hour, and heavy roads;" so Gerald hurried in to say good-bye to Lady Wimborne.

“You will come back soon,” she said, colouring in spite of the effort she made to keep quiet, “and you will find us alone again.”

“I like it best when you are alone-you see what a selfish fellow I am. Can I not do anything for you except seeing the shipping agent? Goodbye."

He came back again when he had nearly reached the hall-door.

“You have quite forgiven me the annoyance my folly and madness caused you when I came down first ?”

“Yes quite, Gerald. I shall never think of it again except to wish you may find some one more fitted to love you, some one who can and does love you in return;" she held his hand in hers, and looked so young and lovable herself, that for the instant Gerald thought might he not be giving up the substance to follow the shadow; but Morgan came

; bustling in to warn him about the time, so they shook hands again, and Gerald was gone—but whether he had done wisely or not he hardly felt satisfied. He had been a coward, but forgot he could not run away from himself, and that he carried heart and memory with him. This same memory began to play strange pranks as he was being whirled up to London, and he began to think he might have been a wiser man to stay where he was—but the die was cast now, he had left the field clear, and Charley master of the position. By the time Roger came up to town, no doubt the affair would be settled, and then, he thought, “ when there is no chance I shall not be afraid of making a fool of myself, and we can go on in our old way."

London was dismal and lonely after the pleasant fields, rides, and bright rooms at Thornhill. Mrs. West had gone out of town, too, for a day, and he did not care to look up any other acquaintances; the club was deserted, or nearly so, and, as it happened, there was no familiar face among the few men he saw there. He went down to the shipping office to see if he could get any information about the passengers on board the ship Harry was said to have sailed in, but the clerk had left, so he was baulked again. He was in no humour for night work, so,

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going back to the hotel, dined, read the morning papers, with the Indian mail just in, and went to bed.

Coming downstairs to breakfast next morning, he found a note in Roger's handwriting.

“I write in haste, but I think you'll like to hear-poor Charley is scratched, and you are first favourite."

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THERE are few pleasures more exhilarating than a ride to "the meet upon an autumn morning. It is not only that nature throws over the scene her rich deep colouring, looking deeper and richer under the fitful gleams of the low sun, but there is something in the very atmosphere, invigorated as it is by the early frost of winter, that sends your blood tingling through your veins, and acts like a stimulant upon the whole system; nor are bipeds singular in their appreciation of the delights of a “hunting morning ;" the horses like it, the hounds like it, "and," as the old huntsman said, “we cannot be certain the foxes do not like it too."

When do Englishmen look finer, heartier, or honester fellows, than when, having donned the legitimate pink, and thrown a leg, cased in spotless cords and tops, across a well-bred hunter, they show themselves grouping round the cover-side? And lovely and lovable as English girls so often are, is there not a witchery beyond expression in the prim, half masculine attire, yclept riding-habit? How one marvels at the tiny tie and the all-round collar, kissing her soft downy throat, and in what a wonderful way the tall hat perches itself over the sparkling eyes and bonny rosy face, supported at the back by a web of glossy bands, or whatever the complicated style of hairdressing may be called !

Then, another thing, there is less reserve; the etiquette of the coverside is a much pleasanter code than that of the dinner-party or ball-room. Men are not all bent on love-making, women are not all laid out for fascinating. Master Reynard is the object of pursuit, and if there is a little side game going on here and there, even a proposal is nipped in the bud by the cheery “Gone away," and very desperate must the case be when a good start is sacrificed to “my lady's gentle eyes.”

Air and exercise bring the shiest roses into bloom ; eyes that veil themselves behind their dark lash curtains on all ordinary occasions grow bolder in the fresh air, and many a shot goes home to the mark that would have fallen inoccuous under a blazing chandelier ; red lips curl saucily, and throw back the joke or repartee in a fearless way that would

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be highly indecorous were it not that everybody is so jolly, and that, as we have said, the etiquette of the cover-side is the pleasantest of all.

And although now and then a man lays himself out for doing gateopener pour les dames, it is ten to one that he does not somehow manage to see as much of the run as his compeers. I have no faith in gentlemen when they profess to be so very unselfish; if they are worth having for a companion in the hunting field, they don't do the gate-opening business honestly. Now Willy Weymouth was perfectly honest, but then Willy had certain objections to hard riding, and didn't favour a strange mount, either; he shone and drew credit from the past rather than the present, and his exploits were always much more telling, when done by word of mouth.

Willy liked nothing better than to tell hunting stories, and nothing worse than to ride conscious that criticising eyes were on him. He had arranged matters much to his own satisfaction on the present occasion, and had been doing the magnanimous martyr to perfection when absent from Silvia's side; and, while there, running on with a gentle stream of talk, chiefly reminiscences of other “fields," whereon he had won no end of glory.

Charley and Roger, who were close behind, and neither disposed for much talk, could not shut their ears to the feats so picturesquely put; and, more than once, Willy's narration was broken in upon by a roar from one or both, and had he not been blessed with the most obtuse self-conceit, there is very little doubt but that the fun would have come to an untimely end.

Various, indeed, were the exploits, various the counties so immortalised, and Willy was in the middle of a brilliant account of a slashing

a day with the “Kildare,” when the Wellingford party bore down upon them, headed by Char Boyle and Colonel Babbington, Lilly being absent.

Willy did not know Miss Boyle, but Roger took care to obviate that difficulty by introducing them, no difficult matter, as Char, after the usual hand-shaking had subsided, had taken her place beside Silvia ; but not before Roger had whispered a little programme of the work laid out for her in the approaching trial of Mr. Weymouth; and Char, who had always a keen liking for anything in the way of a joke, took to her rôle kindly. “ You know Kildare, then, Mr. Weymouth ?" she began.

“ Nice county, but stiff to ride across."

Willy opined it was, rather.

“I daresay you know some of my people down there,” said Char, beginning to draw upon her imagination ; “Cornelius O'Dowd, of

, O'Dowd Castle. I was staying there last year, and remember hearing your name; they're terribly jealous, you know, of an Englishman

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