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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 81 pages of information about The Gay Lord Quex.

LADY OWBRIDGE.

It would be kind of you.

[FRAYNE goes up the steps and away. MRS. EDEN comes to the stone bench. MURIEL returns slowly, coming from among the trees and appearing on the further side of the low hedge.

DUCHESS.

[To LADY OWBRIDGE.] Pray don’t be in the least concerned for me, dear Lady Owbridge; the absence of my maid is quite a temporary matter.  Poor Watson’s father is unwell and I packed her off to him this afternoon.  She will be back by mid-day to-morrow, she promises me.

LADY OWBRIDGE.

But, dear me! in the meantime my own woman shall wait upon you.

DUCHESS.

I couldn’t dream of it.

MRS. EDEN.

Why not my Gilchrist—­or let us share her?

DUCHESS.

No, no; the housemaid who assisted me into this gown—­

LADY OWBRIDGE.

Chalmers? well, there’s Chalmers, certainly.  But I fear that Chalmers has hot hands.  Or Denham—­no, Denham is suffering from a bad knee.  Of course, there’s Bruce!  Bruce is painfully near-sighted—­but would Bruce do?  Or little Atkins—?

SOPHY.

[Stepping from behind the bench, and confronting LADY OWBRIDGE—­in a quiet voice.] Or I, my lady?

LADY OWBRIDGE.

You, my dear?

SOPHY.

Why shouldn’t I attend upon her Grace to-night and in the morning? [With half a courtesy to the DUCHESS.] I should dearly like to have the honour.

[MURIEL comes forward, staring at SOPHY.

MRS. EDEN.

Now, that’s very proper and good-natured of you, Sophy.

LADY OWBRIDGE.

But, Miss Fullgarney—­

SOPHY.

[Modestly.] Oh, I never feel like Miss Fullgarney out of my business, my lady.  You see, I was maid for years, and it’s second nature to me.  Do let me, my lady—­do, your Grace!

LADY OWBRIDGE.

Duchess—?

DUCHESS.

[Hesitatingly.] Oh—­oh, by all means. [To SOPHY.] Thank you.

[The gong sounds in the distance again, as QUEX—­now in evening-dress—­and FRAYNE return together, above the hedge.

LADY OWBRIDGE.

Here is Quex.

[The ladies, except MURIEL, join FRAYNE and QUEX.

MURIEL.

[To SOPHY.] What are you doing?

SOPHY.

[Breathlessly.] The housekeeper showed me over the house.  I remember—­her maid’s room is at the end of a passage leading from the boudoir!

MURIEL.

Sophy, you must not! you sha’n’t!

SOPHY.

Why, isn’t it for the best?  If I was mistaken over what I heard just now, I sha’n’t see or hear anything wicked to-night; and that will satisfy both of us—!

LADY OWBRIDGE.

[Calling.] Muriel—­

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