Chapter XI. Secret Expedition
 

'The Christmas-tree! Oh, mamma, do let it be the Christmas-tree. It is quite well. We've been to look at it.'

'Christmas-trees have got so stale, Val,' said Gillian.

'Rot!' put in Jasper.

'Oh, please, please, mamma,' implored Valetta, 'please let it be the dear old Christmas-tree! You said I should choose because it will be my birthday.'

'There is no need to whine, Val; you shall have your tree.'

'I'm so glad!' cried Mysie. 'The dear old tree is best of all. I could never get tired of it if I lived to be a hundred years old.'

'Such are institutions,' said their mother. 'I never heard of a Christmas-tree till I was twice your age.'

'Oh, mamma! How dreadful! What did you do?'

'I suppose it is all very well for you kids,' said Jasper, loftily, putting his hands in his pockets.

'Perhaps something may be found interesting eve: to the high and mighty elders,' observed Lady Merrifield.

'Oh! What, mamma?'

Mamma, of course, only looked mysterious.

'And,' added Val, 'mayn't we all go on a secret expedition and buy things for it?'

'We've all been saving up,' added Mysie; 'and everybody knows every single thing in all the shop at Silverton.'

'Besides,' added Gillian, 'the sconces will none of them hold, and almost all the golden globes got smashed in coming from Dublin, and one of the birds has its head off, and another has lost its spun-glass tail, and another its legs.'

'A bird of Paradise,' said Lady Merrifield, laughing; 'but wasn't there a tree at Malta decked with no apparatus at all?'

'Yes, but Alley and Phyl can do anything!'

'I think we must ask Aunt Jane---'

There was a howl. 'Oh, please, mamma, don't let Aunt Jane get all the things! We do so want to choose.'

'You impatient monsters! You haven't heard me out, and you don't deserve it.'

'Oh, mamma, I beg your pardon!' 'Oh, mamma, please!' 'Oh, mamma, pray!' cried the most impatient howlers, dancing round her.

'What I was about to observe, before the interruption by the honourable members, was, that we might perhaps ask Aunt Jane and Aunt Ada to receive at luncheon a party of caterers for this same tree.'

'Oh! oh! oh!' 'How delicious!' 'Hooray!' 'That's what I call jolly fun!'

'And, mamma,' added Gillian, 'perhaps we might let Miss Hacket join. I know she wants to get up something for a G.F.S. class; but mamma was attending to Primrose, and the brothers burst in.

'There goes Gill, spoiling it all!' exclaimed Wilfred.

'That's always the way,' said Jasper. 'Girls must puzzle everything up with some philanthropic Great Fuss Society dodge.'

'I am sure, Jasper,' said Gillian, 'I don't see why it should spoil anything to make other people happy. I thought we were told to make feasts not only for our own friends--'

'Gill's getting just like old Miss Hacket,' said Wilfred.

'Or sweet Constance,' put in Jasper. 'She'll be writing poems next.'

'Hush! hush! boys,' said Lady Merrifield. 'I do not mean to interfere with your pleasure, 'but I had rather our discussions were not entirely selfish. Suppose, Gillian, we walked down to Casement Cottages, and consulted Miss Hacket.'

This was done, in the company of all the little girls, for Miss Hacket's cats, doves, and gingerbread were highly popular; moreover, Dolores was glad of a chance sight of Constance.

'My dear,' said Lady Merrifield, as Gillian walked beside her, 'you must be satisfied with giving Miss Hacket the reversion of our tree, and you and Mysie can go and help her. It will not do to make these kind of works a nuisance to your brothers.'

'I did not think Jasper would have been so selfish as to object,' said Gillian, almost tearfully.

'Remember that boys have a very short time at home, and cannot be expected to care for these things like those who work in them,' said Lady Merrifield. 'It will not make them do so, to bore them, and take away their sense of home and liberty. At the same time, they must not expect to have everything sacrificed to them, and so I shall make Jasper understand.'

'You won't scold him, mamma?'

'Can't you, any of you, trust me, Gill?'

'Oh! mamma! Only I didn't want him to think. I wouldn't do everything he liked, except that I don't want him to be unkind about those poor girls.'

Miss Hacket was perfectly enraptured at the offer of the reversion of the Christmas-tree and its trapping. Valetta's birthday was on the 28th of December and the tree was to be lighted on the ensuing evening for G.F.S. Moreover, the party would go to Rockstone as soon as an appointment could be made with Miss Mohun, to make selections at a great German fancy shop, recently opened there, and in full glory; and the Hacket sisters were invited to join the party, starting at a quarter to eight, and returning at a few minutes after seven, the element of darkness at each end only adding to the charm in the eyes of the children, and Valetta, with a little leap, repeated that it would be a real secret expedition.

'Very secret indeed,' said her mother, 'considering how many it is known to--'

'Yes, but it is, mamma, for everybody has a secret from everybody.'

The words made Constance and Dolores look round with a start from their colloquy under the shade of the window-curtains, but no one was thinking of them. Just as the plans were settled, Constance came forward, saying, 'Lady Merrifield, may I have dear Dolores to spend the day with me? We neithe of us wish to join your kind party to Rockstone, and we should so enjoy being together.'

'I had much rather stay,' added Dolores.

'Very well,' said Lady Merrifield, reflecting that her sisters would be grateful for the diminution of the party, and that it would be easier to keep the peace without Dolores.

The defection was hailed with joy by her cousins, though they were struck dumb at her extraordinary taste in not liking shopping.

Jasper did look rather small when his mother assured him in private he might have trusted her to see that he was not to be incommoded with Gillian's girls, and he only observed, in excuse for his murmurs, that it made a man mad to see his sisters always off after some charity fad or other.

"'Always' being a few hours once a week," she said.

'Just when one wants her.'

'Look here, my boy,' she said, 'you don't want your sisters to be selfish, useless, fine ladies--never doing any one any good. If they take up good works, they can't drop them entirely to wait on you. Gillian does give up a great deal, and it would be kinder to forbear a little, and not treat all she does as an injury to yourself.'

'I only meant to get a rise out of her.'

'You are quite welcome to do that, provided it is done in good nature. Gill is quite sound stuff enough to be laughed at! But, I say, my Japs, I should prefer your letting Dolores alone; she has not learned to be laughed at yet, and has not come even to the stage for being taught to bear it.'

'She looks fit to turn the cream sour,' observed Jasper. 'I say, mamma, you don't want me to go on this shopping business, do you?'

'Not by any means, sir.'

Happily, the chance of a day's rabbit shooting presented itself at a warren some miles off, and Harry undertook the care of Wilfred, who gave his word of honour to obey implicitly and take no liberties with the guns. Fergus would gladly have gone with them, but he was still young enough to be sensible of the attractions of toy-shops. Only Primrose had to be left to the nursery, and there was no need to waste pity on her, for on such an occasion Mrs. Halfpenny would relax her mood, and lay herself out to be agreeable, when she had exhausted her forebodings about her leddyship making herself ill for a week gaun rampaging about with all the bairns, as if she was no better than one herself.

'I shall let Miss Mohun do most of the rampaging, nurse; but, if it is fine, will you take Miss Primrose into the town and let her choose her own cards. I have given her a florin, and if you make the most of that for her, she will be as happy as going with us.'

'That I will, my leddy. Bairns is easy content when ye ken how to sort 'em.'

'And, nurse, I believe there will be a box from Sir Jasper at the station. It may come home in the waggonette that takes us. Will you and Macrae get it safe into the store-room, for I don't want the children to see it too soon?'

There was nothing but satisfaction in the house on the morning of the expedition. The untimely candle-light breakfast was only a fresh element of delight, and so was the paling gas at the station, the round, red sun peeping out through a yellow break between grey sky and greyer woods; the meeting Miss Hacket in her fur cloak, the taking of the tickets, the coughing of the train, the tumbling into one of the many empty carriages, the triumphant start,--all seemed as fresh and delicious as if the young people had never taken a journey before in all their lives. The fog in the valleys, the sleepy villages, the half-roused stations, all gave rise to exclamations, and nothing was regretted but that the windows would get clouded over.

Even the waiting at the junction had its charms, for it was enlivened by a supplementary breakfast on rolls and milk! and at a few minutes past eleven the train was drawing up at Rockstone, and Aunt Jane, sealskins and all, was beckoning from the platform, hurrying after the carriage as it swept past, and holding out a hand to jump the party from the door.

There she was, ready to take them to the most charming and cheapest shops, where the coins burning in those five pockets would go the furthest. Go in a cab? No, I thank you, it is far more delightful to walk. So mamma and Miss Hacket were stowed away in the despised vehicle, to make the purchases that nobody cared about, or which were to be unseen and unknown till the great day; while Aunt Jane undertook to guide the young people through the town, for her house was at the other end of it securing the Christmas-cards on the way, if nothin' else. For, though all the cards and gifts to mamma, and a good many besides, were of domestic manufacture, some had to be purchased, and she knew, this wonderful woman, where to get cards of former seasons at reduced prices to suit their youthful finances.

Considerable patience was requisite before all the choices were made, and the balance cast between cards and presents, and Miss Mohun got her quartette past all the shop windows, to the seaside villa, shut in by tamarisks, which Aunt Adeline believed to be the only place that suited her health. Mamma and Miss Hacket had already arrived, and filled the little vestibule with parcels and boxes.

Then the early dinner! The aunts had anticipated their Christmas turkey for that goodly company to help them eat it, but afterwards there was only time for a mince pie all round; for more than half the work remained to be done by all except mamma, who would stay and rest with Aunt Ada, having finished all that could not be deputed.

However, first she had a conference in private with Aunt Jane, who undertook therein to come to Silverton for Valetta's birthday, and add astonishment and mystery sufficient to satisfy such of the public as were weary of Christmas-trees. She added, however, 'You will think I am always at you. Lily, but did you know that Flinders is living at Darminster?'

'No; but it is five and twenty miles off, and he has never troubled us.'

'Don't be too secure. He is in connection with that low paper--the Politician--which methinks, is the place where those remarkable poems of Miss Constance's have appeared.'

'Is it not the way of poetry of that calibre to see the light in county papers?'

'This seems to me of a lower calibre than is likely to get in without private interest.'

'But to my certain knowledge the child has neither written to, nor heard of the man all this time,'

'You don't know what goes on with her bosom friend.'

'I am certain Miss Hacket would connive at nothing underhand. Besides, I have never seen any thing sly or deceitful in poor Dolores. She will not make friends with us, that is all, and that may be our fault.'

'I only say, look out, you unsuspicious dame!'

'Now, Jenny, satisfy my curiosity as to how you know all this. I am sure I never showed you those effusions. We have had trouble enough about them, for the children cut them up in a way Dolores has never forgiven.'

'Oh! Miss Hacket sent them to me, to ask if 'Mollsey to her Babe' and 'The Canary' might not be passed on to Friendly Leaves. And as to Flinders, when I went to the G.F.S. Conference at Darminster I met the man full in the street, and, of course, I inquired afterwards how he came there. So there's nothing preternatural about it.'

'It is well you did not live two hundred years ago, or you would certainly have been burnt for a witch.'

'See what a witch I shall make on the 28th! But I hear those unfortunate children dancing and prancing with impatience on the stairs. I must go, before they have driven Ada distracted.'

What would the two aunts have said, could they have seen Dolores and Constance, at that moment partaking of the most elaborate meal the Darminster refreshment-room could supply, at a little round marble table, in company with Mr. Flinders! They had not been obliged to start nearly so early as the other party, as the journey was much shorter, and with no change of line, so they had quietly walked to the station by ten o'clock, arrived at Darminster at half-past eleven, and have been met by the personage whom Dolores recognized as Uncle Alfred. Constance was a little disappointed not to see something more distinguished, and less flashy in style, but he was so polite and complimentary, and made such touching allusions to his misfortunes and his dear sister, that she soon began to think him exceedingly interesting, and pitied him greatly when he said he could not take them to his lodgings--they were not fit for his niece or her friend, who had done him a kindness for which he could never be sufficiently grateful, in affording him a glimpse of his dear sister's child. It made Dolores wince, for she never could bear the mention of her mother, it was like touching a wound, and the old sensation of discomfort and dislike to her uncle's company began to grow over her again, now that she was not struggling against Mohun opposition to her meeting him. He lionized them about the town, but it was a foggy, drizzly day, one of those when the fringe of sea-coast often enjoys finer weather than inland places; the streets were very sloppy, and Dolores and Constance did not do much beyond purchasing a few cards and some presents at a fancy shop, as they had agreed to do, to serve as an excuse for their expedition in case it could not be kept a secret, and most of the visit was made in the waiting-room at the station, or walking up and down the platform. As to the grand point, Mr. Flinders told Constance that her tale was talented and striking, full of great excellence; she might hope for success equal to Ouida's--but that he had found it quite impossible to induce a publisher to accept a work by an unknown author, unless she advanced something. He could guarantee the return, but she must entrust him with thirty pounds. Poor Constance! it was a fatal blow; she had not thirty pounds in the world; she doubted if she could raise the sum, even by her sister's help. Then Mr. Flinders sighed, and thought that if he represented the circumstances, the firm might be content with twenty--nay, even fifteen. Constance cheered up a little. She did think she could make up fifteen, after the 21st, when certain moneys became due, which she shared with her sister. She would be left very bare all the spring--but what was that to the return she was promised? Only Mr. Flinders impressed on her the necessity of secrecy --even from her sister--since, he said, if he were once known to have obtained such terms for a young authoress, he should be besieged for ever!

'But, Uncle Alfred,' said Dolores, 'surely my father and mother, and all the other people I have known, did not pay to get their things published.'

'My dear niece, you speak as one who has been with persons of high and established fame--the literary aristocracy, in fact. The doors once opened, Miss Hacket will, like them, make her own terms; but such doors, like many others, are only to be opened by a silver key.'

There were other particulars which he talked over with the authoress in a promenade on the platform while Dolores was left in the waiting-room; but afterwards he indulged his niece with a tete-a-tete, asking her father's address, and mourning over the length of time it would take to obtain an answer from Fiji. Mr. Mohun had promised to help him, solemnly and kindly promised, for the sake of her whom they had both loved so much, and here he was, cut off and quite in extremity. Unfortunate as usual, through his determined enemies, a company in which he had shares had collapsed, he was penniless till his salary from the Politician became due in March. Meanwhile, he should be expelled from his lodging and brought to ruin if he could not raise a few pounds--even one.

Dolores had nearly two pounds in her purse. Her father had left her amply provided, and she had not much opportunity of spending. She knew he had seen the gold when she was shopping, and when she had paid for the refreshments, which of course she had found she had to do. With some hesitation she said, 'If thirty shillings would be of any good to you--'

'My dear, generous child, your dear mother's own daughter! It will be the saving of me temporarily! But among all your wealthy relatives, surely, considering your father's promise, you could obtain some advance until he can be communicated with!'

'If he is still in New Zealand, we could telegraph, and hear directly. He did not know how long he should be there, for the ship had something to be done to it.'

This did not suit Mr. Flinders. Such telegrams were very expensive, and it was too uncertain whether Mr. Mohun would be at Auckland. Surely, Lady Merrifield, whose husband was shaking the pagoda tree, would make an advance if she knew the circumstances.

'I don't think she would,' said Dolores, 'I don't think they are very rich. There is only one horse and one little pony, and my cousins have such very tiny allowances.'

'Haughty and poor! Stuck up and skimping. Yes, I understand. But I am not asking from her, only an advance, on your father's promise, which he would be certain to repay. Yes, quite certain! It is only a matter of time. It would save me at the present moment from utter ruin and destruction that would have broken your dear mother's heart. Oh! Mary, what I lost in you.' Then, as perhaps he saw reflection on Dolores's face, he added, 'She is gone, the only person who took an interest in me, so it matters the less, and when you hear again of your unhappy uncle you will know what drove him--'

'If it was only an advance--I have a cheque,' began Dolores. 'If seven pounds would do you any good--'

'It would be salvation!' he exclaimed.

'Father left it with me,' pursued Dolores, considering, 'in case Professor Muhlwasser went on with his great book of coloured plates of microscopic marine zoophytes, and sent it in. I was to keep this and pay with it--'

'Oh! Muhlwasser! you need not trouble about him. I saw his death in the paper a month ago.'

'Then I really think I might send you the cheque, and write to my father why I did so.'

'Ah! Dolly, I knew that your mother's daughter could never desert me.'

More followed of the same kind, tending to make Dolores feel that she was doing a heroically generous thing, and stifling the lurking sense in her mind that she had no right to dispose of her father's money without his consent. The December day began to close in, the gas was lighted, Constance was seen disconsolately peeping out at the waiting- room door to see whether the private conference were over. They joined her again, and Mr. Flinders discoursed about the envy and jealousy of critics, and success being only attained by getting into a certain clique, till she began to look rather frightened; but reassured by the voluble list of names and papers to which he assured her of recommendations. Then he began to be complimentary, and she, to put on the silly tituppy kind of face and tone wherewith she had talked to the curates at the festival. Dolores began to find this very dull, and to feel neglected, perhaps also cross, and doubts came across her whether she might not get into a dreadful scrape about the money, which she certainly had no right to dispose of. She at last broke in with, 'Uncle Alfred, are you quite sure Professor Muhlwasser is dead?'

'Bless your heart, child, he's as dead as Harry the Eighth,' said Mr. Flinders in haste;' died at Berlin, of fatty degeneration of the heart! Well, as I was saying, Miss Constance--'

'But, uncle, I was thinking--'

'Hush!' as a couple of ladies and a whole train of nurses and children invaded the waiting-room, 'it won't do to talk of such little matters in public places, you know. Would you not like a cup of tea, Miss Constance. Will you allow me to be your cavalier?'

People were beginning to arrive in expectation of the coming train, and talk was not possible in the throng; at least, Mr. Flinders did not make it so. At last the train swept up, and he was hurrying to find places for the ladies, when there was a moment's glimpse of a handsome moustached face at a smoking-carriage window. Dolores started, and had almost exclaimed, 'Uncle Reginald;' but before the words were out of her mouth, Mr. Flinders had drawn her on swiftly, among all the numbers of people getting out and getting in, hurled her into a distant carriage, handed Constance in after her, and muttering something about forgetting an appointment, he vanished, without any of the arrangements about foot-warmers that he had promised.

'Uncle Reginald!' again exclaimed Dolores, 'I am sure it was he!'

'Oh dear! What an escape!' answered Constance, breathless with surprise, and settling herself with disgust and difficulty next to a fat old farmer, as three or four more people entered and jammed them close together.

'Who is he?' she presently whispered.

'Colonel Mohun. His regiment is at Galway. I know he talked of getting over this winter if he possibly could; but Aunt Lily went away before the post was come in.'

'We shall have to take great care when we get out.'

Here the train started, and conversation in undertones became impossible, more especially as two of the farmers in the carriage were coming back from the Smithfield Cattle Show, and were discussing the prize oxen with all their might. It was very stuffy and close. Constance looked ineffably fastidious and uncomfortable, and Dolores gazed at the clouded window, and dull little lamp overhead, put in to enliven the deepening twilight. This avoiding of Uncle Reginald brought more before her mind a sense of wrong-doing than anything that had gone before. She was fond of this uncle, who always made her father's house his headquarters when in London, and used to play with her when she was a small child, and always to take her to the Zoological Gardens, till she declared she was too old to care for such a childish show, and then he and her father both laughed at her so much that she would never have forgiven anybody else; and she found he enjoyed it for his own sake far more than she did. However, he always did take her out for walks and sights that were sure to be amusing with him. Father, too, was quite bright and alive when he was in the house, and thus Dolores had nothing but pleasant associations connected with this uncle, and had heard of the chances of his coming like a ray of light, though without much hope, since the state of Ireland had prevented him from being able even to run over to take leave of her father. And now he was come, she must hide from him like a guilty thing! There was no spirit of opposition against him in her mind, and thus she could feel that she was doing something sad and strange. Moreover, she began to feel that her promise about the cheque had been a rash one, and the echo of her father's voice came back on her, saying, 'Surely, Mary, you know better than to believe a word out of Flinders's mouth.'

But then she thought of her mother's rare tears glistening in her eyes, and the answer, 'Poor Alfred! I cannot give him up. Everything has been against him.'

It was quite dark before Silverton was reached, at half-past five, with three quarters of an hour to spare before the other travellers were expected. Most of their fellow passengers had got out at previous stations, so that Constance was able to open the door and jump out so perilously before the train had quite stopped, that a porter caught her with a sharp word of reproof. She grasped Dolores's hand and scudded across the platform, giving the return tickets almost before the collector was ready. A cautious guard even exclaimed, 'What's those two young women up to?' but was answered at once, 'They're all right! That's nought but one of the old parson's daughters, as have been out with a return to Darminster.'

'A sweetheartin'?' demanded one of the bystanders, and there was a laugh.

Constance heard the tones and vulgar laugh, though not the words, and she was in such a panic as she hurried down the steps that she did not stop to look out for a cab. The place was small, and they were not very plentiful at any time, and she was mortally afraid, though she hardly knew why, of being over-taken and questioned by Colonel Mohun, who might know his niece, though he would not know her; but Dolores was tired, and had a headache, and did not at all like the walk in the dirt, and fog, and dark, after turning from the gas lit station.

'We were to have a cab, Constance.'

'We can't,' was the answer, still hurrying on. 'He would come out upon us.'

'He is much more likely to overtake us this way!' said Dolores, thinking of her uncle's long strides.

'Well, we can't turn back now!' said Constance, getting almost into a run, which lasted till they were past the paddock gate. Dolores, panting to keep up with her, had half a mind to turn up there and go straight home; but there might be any number of oxen in the way, and almost worse, she might meet Jasper and Wilfred, or if Uncle Reginald overtook her, what would he think?

The pair slackened their pace a little when they had satisfied themselves that the break in the dark hedge beside them was the gate. They heard wheels, and presently saw the lamps of a cab, bearing down, halt at the gate they had left behind, and turn in.

'We should have been off first,' said Dolores.

'If we could have got a cab in time?'

'One can always get cabs.'

'Oh! no, not at all for certain.'

'This is a nasty, stupid, out-of-the-way place,' said Dolores, wanting to say something cross.

'It isn't a vulgar place, full of traffic,' returned Constance, equally cross.

'Well, I never meant to walk home in this way! I'm sure my feet are wet. I wish I had waited and gone with Uncle Regie.'

'Now, Dolly, what do you mean? You would not have it all betrayed?'

'I've a great mind to tell Uncle Regie all about it.'

'Now, Dolly! When you said so much about the Mohun pride and scorn of your poor, dear uncle.'

'Uncle Regie is not proud. And he would know what to do.'

'But,' cried Constance, in a fright, 'you would never tell him! You promised that it should be a secret, and I should be in such a dreadful scrape with Lady Merrifield and Mary.'

'Well! it was your doing, and you had all the pleasure of it, flourishing about the platform with him.'

'How can you be so disagreeable, Dolores, when you know it was all on business. Though I do think he is the most interesting man I ever did see.'

'Just because he flattered you.'

However, there is no need to tell how many cross and quarrelsome things the two tired friends said to each other. They were sitting on opposite sides of the fire, one very gloomy, and the other very pettish, when the waggonette stopped at the gate, to put out Miss Hacket and take up Dolores. Hands pulled her up the step, and a hubbub of merry voices received her in the dark.

'Good girl, not to keep us waiting.'

'Oh, Dolly, Dolly, Macrae says Uncle Regie's come!'

'Oh, Dolly, it has been such fun!'

'Take care of my parcel!'

'Ah, ha! you don't know what is in there.'

'Here's something under my feet!'

'Oh! take care! 'Tisn't my--'

'Hush, hush, Val--'

And so it went on till on the steps was seen in full light among the boys, Uncle Reginald, ready to lift every one out with a kiss.'

'Ha! Dolly, is that you?' he said, as they came into the hall. 'I saw such a likeness of you at one station that I was as near as possible jumping out to speak to her. She had on just that fur tippet!'

'That comes of living in Ireland, Regie,' said Aunt Lily. 'Once in a shop at Belfast, a lady darted up to me with "And it's I that am glad to see you, me dear. And how's me sweet little god-daughter? Oh! and it isn't yourself. And aren't you Mrs. Phelim O'Shaugnessy?'" And under cover of this, Dolores retreated to her own room. She took off her things, and then looked at the cheque.

Professor Muhlwasser was a clever German, always at work on science, counting, in the most minute and accurate manner, such details as the rays in a sea anemone's tentacles, or the eggs in a shrimp's roe. He was engaged on a huge book, in numbers, of which Mr. Maurice Mohun had promised to take two copies--but whereas extravagances upon peculiar hobbies were apt not to be tolerated in the family, and it was really uncertain whether the work would ever be completed, Mr. Mohun had preferred leaving a cheque for the payment in his little daughter's hand, rather than entrust it to one of the brothers, who would have howled and growled at such a waste of good money on such a subject. Thus he had told Dolores to back the draft, get it changed, and send the amount by a postal order to Germany, if the books and account should come, which he thought very doubtful.

And now the professor was dead, Dolores looked at the cheque, and supposed she could do as she pleased with it. Mother helped Uncle Alfred. Yes, but mother earned all she sent him herself! Perhaps he would not ask again. How much more he had talked to Constance than to herself. Dolly wished she had not seen him to get into this difficulty. She was tired, cold, and damp. Oh! if she had never gone, and not been half caught by Uncle Regie!