The tears filled her eyes. Lionel respected her grief, and remained silent. Presently she resumed, in a musing tone—
“I knew Sibylla would only prove an encumbrance to Fred, out there; and I told him so. If Fred thought he was taking out a wife who would make shift, and put up pleasantly with annoyances, he was mistaken. Sibylla in Canvas Town! Poor girl! I wonder she married him. Don’t you?”
“Rather so,” answered Lionel, his scarlet blush deepening.
“I do; especially to go to that place. Sibylla’s a pretty flower, made to sport in the sunshine; but she never was constituted for a rough life, or to get pricked by thorns.”
Lionel’s heart beat. It echoed to every word. Would that she could have been sheltered from the thorns, the rough usages of life, as he would have sheltered her.
Lionel dined with Mrs. Verner, but quitted her soon afterwards. When he got back to Deerham Court, the stars were peeping out in the clear summer sky. Lucy Tempest was lingering in the courtyard, no doubt waiting for him, and she ran to meet him as soon as he appeared at the gate.
“How long you have been!” was her greeting, her glad eyes shining forth hopefully. “And is it all yours?”
Lionel drew her arm within his own in silence, and walked with her in silence until they reached the pillared entrance of the house. Then he spoke—
“You have not mentioned it, Lucy?”
“Of course I have not.”
“Thank you. Let us both forget it. It was not the codicil. And Verner’s Pride is not mine.”
DR. WEST’S SANCTUM.
For some little time past, certain rumours had arisen in Deerham somewhat to the prejudice of Dr. West. Rumours of the same nature had circulated once or twice before during the progress of the last half dozen years; but they had died away again, or had been hushed up, never coming to anything. For one thing, their reputed scene had not lain at the immediate spot, but at Heartburg; and distance is a great discouragement to ill-natured tattle. This fresh scandal, however, was nearer. It touched the very heart of Deerham, and people made themselves remarkably busy over it—none the less busy because the accusations were vague. Tales never lose anything in carrying, and the most outrageous things were whispered of Dr. West.
A year or two previous to this, a widow lady named Baynton, with her two daughters, no longer very young, had come to live at a pretty cottage in Deerham. Nothing was known of who they were, or where they came from. They appeared to be very reserved, and made no acquaintance whatever. Under these circumstances, of course, their history was supplied for them. If you or I went and established ourselves in a fresh place to-morrow, saying nothing of who we were, or what we were, it would only be the signal for some