This was the coup de main that carried the day. The soft-hearted bachelor was not proof against this, besides there was truth and reason in her suggestions for his darling little niece, and he did not see how he could, for the present, do better than to offer to Mrs. Fraudhurst the charge of Edith, and before he took leave it was arranged that the widow should call at Vellenaux daily and endeavor to gain the confidence of the child, and at the end of the six months she should give up housekeeping and be installed as governess and companion for Edith; and so well did she play her cards that she had scarcely been there twelve months when she ruled the household as though she were its legitimate mistress; always heading the table when Sir Jasper entertained his bachelor friends, and thus, we may say, for several years lived in clover. Her chief duties consisted in educating Edith and Arthur, which, for several years, was a task which did not require much mental endowment or physical exertion. It was, in fact, more of a pastime than otherwise, and as she always accompanied Edith when visiting the neighboring families, there was but little monotony to complain of.
She had a double object in becoming an inmate of Vellenaux. First, that of securing a comfortable home for several years. But her grand scheme was that of making herself so necessary to the Baronet, that she could, in time, undermine the defences, carry the Citadel by stratagem, and finally become the envied mistress of Vellenaux. But a few months residence under the same roof served to convince her of the fallacy of the project; for there were two grand difficulties that she could not overcome; his strong objection to matrimony, and his affection for his niece. Therefore, the shrewd and cautious widow had to relinquish her attack in that direction; and as Edith advanced towards womanhood, her position became more precarious. There were two events to be dreaded, and in either case she believed her occupation gone, and these were the death of Sir Jasper or Edith’s marriage. Her income during the years of her residence with Sir Jasper had been a handsome one, and being at little or no expense, she managed to accumulate a goodly sum at her bankers; but the idea of losing her present abode was to her disagreeable in the extreme, and her busy mind was continually at work to devise how this could be averted, and this was the way matters stood with her on the morning alluded to.
“He is coming home from College next month not again to return, and she loves him, though she may not at present realize the fact, but that knowledge will come, and I fear much too soon. Sir Jasper will not object, and the youth will hardly refuse to accept Vellenaux and twenty thousand a year, although there be an incumbrance in the shape of a wife attached to the bargain. Yes, I see it all, they will marry and I shall be thrown out in the cold unless I have wit enough to prevent it without appearing to interest