Finally the days of Laura Filbert’s sojourn under the Livingstones’ roof followed each other into the past that is not much pondered. Alicia at one time valued the impression that life in Calcutta disappeared entirely into this kind of history, that one’s memory there was a rubbish heap of which one naturally did not trouble to stir up the dust. It gave a soothing wistfulness to discontent to think this, which a discerning glance might often have seen about her lips and eyebrows as she lay back among her carriage cushions under the flattery of the south wind in the course of her evening drive. She had ceased latterly, however, to note particularly that or any impression. Such things require range and atmosphere, and she seemed to have no more command over these; her outlook was blocked by crowding, narrowing facts. There was certainly no room for perceptions creditable to one’s intellect or one’s taste. Also it may be doubted whether Alicia would have tried the days of her hospitality to Captain Filbert by her general standard of worthlessness. She turned away from them more actively than from the rest, but it was because they bristled, naturally enough, with dilemmas and distresses which she made a literal effort to forget. As a matter of fact there were not very many days, and they were largely filled with millinery. Even the dilemmas and distresses, when they asserted themselves, were more or less overswept, as if for the sake of decency, by billows of spotted muslin, with which Celine, who felt the romance of the situation, made herself marvellously clever. Celine, indeed, was worth in this exigency many times her wages. Alicia hastened to “lend” her to the fullest extent, and she spent hours with Miss Filbert contriving and arranging, a kind of conductor of her mistress’s beneficence. It became plain that Laura preferred the conductor to the source, and they stitched together while she, with careful reserves, watched for the casual sidelights upon modes and manners that came from the lips of the maid. At other times she occupied herself with her Bible—she had adopted, as will be guessed, the grateful theory of Mrs. Sand, that she had only changed the sphere of her ministrations. She had several times felt, seated beside Celine, how grateful she ought to be that her spiritual paths for the future would be paths of such pleasantness, though Celine herself seemed to stand rather far from their border, probably because she was a Catholic. Mrs. Sand came occasionally to upbuild her, and after that Laura had always a fresh remembrance of how much she had done in giving so generous a friend as Duff Lindsay to the Army in Calcutta. It was reasonable enough that there should be a falling off in Mr. Lindsay’s attendance just now in Laura’s absence, but when they were united, Mrs. Sand hoped there would be very few evening services when she, the Ensign, would miss their bright faces.