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“Yes, sir ; quite sudden and unexpected."
“ At night ? ”
“Yes, sir; a wet and sloppy night, too."
“And her maid came here to seek her?”

“Yes, sir,” Kitty again interrupted; "she came straight to this house to see if her young lady had come here, and to know where you was and what you was doing. Mrs. Beverley sent her, and if I could find her anywheres about I was to have a hundred pounds."

In the midst of his amazement and distress at this strange story, Victor Darville felt a thrill of pleasure when he heard that Mrs. Beverley had thought it probable, or even possible, that her daughter had been in communication with him. To his eager mind, it was proof positive that Joan still thought of him, and loved him, for surely Mrs. Beverley must know what was the real state of her daughter's affections.

Why she should leave home at all was a mystery, but that her parents should send to his home to inquire for her made his heart leap for joy. Then, again, there was Mr. Beverley's letter denying that they had any cause for anxiety; therefore, whatever alarm they might have experienced had been allayed; it had been all a mistake, no doubt; they had missed their daughter for a time, and had been uneasy about her; probably she had been out to some late service at St. Winifred's; he knew that she was in the habit of going to church at all hours: that would account for everything

Kitty, however, was not to be silenced. It was her turn to speak now, and she went over all that the landlady had said with redoubled emphasis, determined not to be outdone. The young lady as came to tell her about it was the young lady's own lady’s-maid, and knew everything, and she said there was to be a reward offered to any one as would go after the young lady and bring her back, and nobody had had the reward, as ever she had heard, therefore it was not likely as the young lady was brought back. There had been a lot of people at the house to dinner, and they had been all sent away again in a hurry, without so much as a sandwich or a bit of bread and cheese ; so it must have been something very serious for all of them. Mr. Beverley was gone off his head almost, and Mrs. Beverley was as bad; and no wonder. The young lady's lady's maid herself was so put about, and had got such a turn, that she did not know whether she was standing on her head or her heels-she had said so in those very words. And as for Kitty herself, she felt all curdled like.

Victor, being more interested in the cause than in the effects so eloquently described by the maid-of-all-work, managed to silence her; and when he had put the two women out of the room, drew Mr. Beverley's note from his pocket and read it over carefully. It was short, but decided, and left no room for doubt that whatever alarm they might have felt had turned out to be groundless. It was kindly worded, too, and Mrs. Beverley had joined in the expression of thanks to him for the interest he had manifested.

“I think,” he said to himself, “I think I will go to Mulberry Lawn this evening; I may perhaps see Mr. Beverley. It is clear that they sent here three days ago, and I was not at home. I think perhaps I ought to call after that; they cannot be annoyed at my doing so, especially as I presume Miss Beverley is absent.”

He acted upon this idea at once, stopping only to change his dress after his journey. He had a good excuse for calling at Mulberry Lawn after all that had happened, and he could not help hoping, notwithstanding what had passed between Mr. Beverley and his brother, that he should meet with a pleasant reception.

CHAPTER L.

A BARGAIN.

IT

Was I deceived ? or did a sable cloud

Turn forth her silver lining on the night?- Milton. T was late in the evening when Victor Darville arrived at

Mr. Beverley's, and when the door was opened it was apparent that dinner was going on. The footman hesitated about asking him to enter, and sent the butler to deal with him according to his superior discretion.

"They are at dinner," said the butler, in a decided manner, as if that answer ought to suffice. A few months back he would have asked Mr. Darville to " walk in ” at any hour of the day or night, almost; but servants are very often like barometers—you may read in their faces before you enter the house a general forecast of the weather which may be expected inside. Barometers, however, are not infallible.

“ They are at dinner,” said the butler again, seeing that Victor did not immediately depart, but seemed to hesitate what he should do.

“I'll wait till they have done,” said Victor. "Take my name in presently."

“I'll take it in with the dessert,” said the butler; "I can't do it sooner.”

Victor sat down in Mr. Darville's morning-room, or "study," as he called it. Everything seemed to be going on as usual in the house; that was reassuring so far. To be sure, one must dine, whatever happens : neither joy nor sorrow can be allowed to interrupt for any length of time such necessities. But it was a relief to Victor to observe no signs of disorder or distress

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in the establishment. At the same time the thought occurred to him how should he justify this intrusion ? Would it not seem as if he had presumed upon a very trifling event, a mere accident, a mistake which probably had better have been forgotten, to make his way into a house where his visits were not welcome ?

He had leisure, while waiting, to reflect once more upon the events of the last few days and upon the consequences which they might possibly involve for himself. His brother had repeated to him faithfully the substance of his conversation with Mr. Beverley at the counting-house, and he knew that for the present he must not look for any more intimate relations with his principal than the business partnership which had been promised. He felt that neither Mr. nor Mrs. Beverley had ever given a cordial sanction to his engagement with their daughter. They would have preferred a better match for her, in a worldly point of view; though they would not have thrown any obstacle in the way, if everything had gone on smoothly between himself and Joan. Now, however, they had become estranged, chiefly through his own conduct. Mr. Beverley had been informed of the circumstances which had, in a manner, compelled him to stand aloof for a time, and could give him credit for the honourable motives by which he had been actuated; but it was more than probable that Miss Beverley was still ignorant of these facts, and might think that he had ceased to care for her. He knew that she had been displeased with him for not taking her into his confidence, and he fancied she might have given way to this feeling of jealousy and suspicion, until she had at length persuaded herself that he was unworthy of her, or that he was behaving very badly towards her. This had been his greatest trouble. He had written letter after letter, entreating her to think charitably of him, and pleading the hard necessity which compelled him to any avail.

alisent himself from the Lawn, and repress, for a time, the dearest and fondest hopes and expectations of his life-and so forth, but had never sent one of them. He had torn them all up as soon as written. It was impossible to give explanations without reflecting upon others; and without explanations he felt persuaded tha: nothing he could say or write would be of

He could only hope that the impatience which Joan had manifested in regard to his secrecy had been more affected than real, and that she would trust him in spite of all appearances against him.

But now, whatever Joan might think of him, his suit was forbidden. Both father and mother had set themselves against it. They had got rid of him, and did not wish for a renewal of the relations which had once existed. Mr. Beverley had told him so through his brother, and Mrs. Beverley, he felt sure, would be even more decided on that point. Still, he could not but feel that he was not so far removed from the great object of his desires as he had been a week or two earlier. The cause of

a offence was removed ; Louis was gone, and would no more, by his indiscretions, threaten to bring ruin and disgrace upon his name. "There was still room for hope," he thought, “still room for hope."

His reflections were interrupted by the appearance of the butler, who entered the room softly, and advanced to where he was sitting. The barometer had risen rapidly, for the man was leaning forward with a respectful smile upon his face. “Please to walk into the dining-room, sir," he said.

Victor felt his heart beat rapidly. This was the last thing that he had expected. “Would Joan be there?” he thought. He had heard Mrs. Beverley's voice when the door was opened; therefore, the ladies had not yet left the room. His name had gone in with the dessert, and he had been invited to follow it alinost immediately. “Would Joan be there to receive him,

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