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could not repress her curiosity, and yet it seemed frightfully treacherous

Pray do not tell me Geoff Trafford's secrets,” she exclaimed; “I am not anxious to know anything of them.”

“ Nay, I am only going to tell the result of my own observations ; I would not for worlds betray anything. Your kinsman is jealous of Milor Torchester, who is evidently a " prétendant;” but it is not this that is so serious. Let me ask you a question or two. The young person who is your secretary. She knew Lord Torchester, and also Mr. Trafford, in Paris ?”

Yes, both,” said Miss Grantham, feeling a sort of dizzy sensation.
And was doubtless placed in your establishment by Mr. Trafford.”

' By Geoffrey ?" in a tone of great astonishment. “No, certainly not. She answered an advertisement. She and Geoffrey were thoroughly surprised on meetingshe was, at any rate. What can you mean, Madame de Beaumanoir ?”

"That I imagine, from the degree of intimacy which existed between them in Paris, there is some entanglement, some liaison. Nay, I mean nothing wrong," cried Madame de Beaumanoir, a little startled at the fire that flashed from Miss Grantham's soft blue eyes. "A sentimentality, such as young women are sometimes betrayed into innocently."

“Geoffrey betray any one! Geoffrey place any doubtful person near me !" cried Miss Grantham, with unconcealed scorn. “ Madame de Beaumanoir, you totally misunderstand your subject. What reason have you for such suspicion? I have a right to inquire into what affects the character of my household."

Madame la Marquise was rather taken aback by this mode of receiving her communication. She had expected agonies of jealousy, tears, exclamations; but not this tone.

“You exaggerate to yourself, my dear! I merely wish to clear away these barriers of trifles which interfere with the happiness of a friend so esteemed as Mr. Trafford."

“Nevertheless, Madame de Beaumanoir, I should like to know on what you found your opinion that a liaison existed between my cousin, Mr. Trafford, and my secretary, Miss Grey ?"

Simply because he avoided more suitable society to drive about with her in the summer evenings,” said the Marquise viciously.

“ Impossible. I cannot believe it.”

“ Nor would I, had I not myself seen them in the Bois de Boulogne,” returned madame, demurely.

“Seen them ?” echoed Miss Grantham, dismayed.

Yes ; I do not speak unadvisedly. I have seen them. And this I believe to have been M. Trafford's reason for always raising some difficulty about my going to see you." As she spoke, the memory of Maggie's indisposition, which pre

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vented her appearing when Lady Brockhurst and her party dined at Grantham, crossed the heiress's mind with agonising doubts; and, again, Maggie's unhesitating readiness to meet the Marquise that very morning came to her with a gleam of hope, and a flash of detestation for the accomplished operator who was applying the torture so successfully.

"I cannot dispute, Madame, what you say you have seen,” said Miss Grantham with dignity; “but I shall make it a point to inquire into what you assert.”

“Then, my dear, you will do very wrong. There is nothing to justify heroics. I have merely warned you to be on your guard. Disembarrass yourself of the young pensionnaire as soon as you can, and meantime keep a watch upon her; place her somewhere out of monsieur's reach, or marry her to some one. I have spoken out of pure friendship to you and monsieur your cousin ; also in perfect reliance on your honour and loyalty not to betray me as your informant."

“But if I cannot name you, how am I to discover anything or do anything?"

"Mademoiselle, I have said enough to enable you to trace ali things. I do not for a moment suppose that monsieur's momentary engouement for your young friend has not passed away. His grande passion is for yourself. Nevertheless their meeting is not without danger. For myself, I have risked something in speaking at all. I

I demand

your assurance that my name be not mentioned.” Madame de Beaumanoir spoke with so much dignity, such an assumption of injured merit, that before Miss Grantham could collect her thoughts she had promised profound secrecy.

“And so our charming drive is over,” said Madame de Beaumanoir, as they passed through the gates of Southam. Ah, mademoiselle, I shall often think of you, and trust to see you in dear Paris. Do not trouble yourself about the trifles that ruffle the surface of your life at present. Be firm ; be true to yourself, and they will vanish. Adieu dear and beautiful friend."

And as Madame la Marquise stood on the upper step of the entrance to Southam House, with an expression of tender benevolence on her speaking countenance, she blew a kiss to the vexed, stupified Miss Grantham with airy and ineffable grace.

The white ponies had been driven at top speed from the Castleford Station to Southam, and their mistress allowed them to proceed home more leisurely. Never in the course of her prosperous existence bad the heiress of Grantham felt so restless, so irritated, so injured. Against Trafford she felt but small indignation ; but that little Miss Grey should have received her confidence respecting him, have had the audacity to suggest some attachment or engagement, have had the

duplicity to look appealingly in her face, and ask her to love her, when-- And here instinctive recognition came to Miss Grantham's aid. She could not she did not-believe Maggie Grey could be guilty of such duplicity. Why not trust her rather than that rusée French woman? “But how am I to find out? How am I to ask ?” thought the unhappy girl. “I have promised that horrid woman not to mention her name, and I must not break my word. I will see what I can get out of Torchester. He is an honest fellow. I am sure he would not palter with the truth for any consideration. I wish Geoff Trafford was at the world's end before he came back to make me miserable.”

CHAPTER XXVIII.

The week which followed the departure of Trafford and Madame de Beaumanoir was equally unpleasant to Miss Grantham and to her secretary At times Maggie's looks and tones and unconscious words, all sorts of trifles, were proofs “strong as Holy Writ” to Miss Grantham that she and Trafford," understood ” each other, and were liés in some mysterious way. For a mésalliance she thought Trafford

a was too proud ; the possibility of anything worse did not occur to her. Again the strong instinctive sympathy between them would assert itself, and for an hour or two she would think there was not a truerhearted, purer-minded, sweeter girl in the world than Maggie Grey, and that if Madame de Beaumanoir's story was true, no one was to blame but Geoffrey.

Unhappily, although she flattered herself that her manner was perfectly even and unaltered, Maggie urfderstood her too well not to perceive every variation of feeling, and grew quite nervous and miserable in consequence. In vain she strove to think that Miss Grantham's depression and uncertainty of temper was unconnected with herself. A keen innate conviction pressed in upon her that, for some unknown cause, from the moment she had, as she thought, secured her patronesses' affectionate friendship, the moderate amount of favouritism she had previously enjoyed was withdrawn, for Maggie counted the change from the Sunday Miss Grantham had taken a tête-à-tête walk with Mr. Trafford. It was strange, too, that she had never mentioned the magic name since that sudden outbreak of confidence.

Maggie exhausted herself in conjectures; she lay awake all night nearly, and at last determined not to be thus lost in a Slough of Despond for want of an effort to get on terra firma, and that on the first opportunity she would ask Miss Grantham what it was that intervened between them. Mr. Bolton was now so much better, that he announced his resolu

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tion to return to his oar on the following Monday. Maggie was surprised how much she regretted this ; for, besides his having softened and unbent to her in a marvellous degree, he was a legitimate source of occupation, without which she would feel herself quite a supernumerary.

The remains of the Christmas party were to disperse on Saturday, except Mr. Bolton. Grantham Longmore, being under orders from his mother not to leave Lord Torchester a "fair field,” had waited to follow his lordship's lead; they were, therefore, to start together for Mount Trafford, where a large shooting party was to assemble the next week.

'I suppose you will be quite pleased, Torchester, to get away from this slow place,” said Miss Grantham, the evening before his departure. Lady Dormer's whist was made up, and the cousins found themselves tête-à-tête. Miss Grantham was pretending to sketch a design for a

bracket, but restless, and longing to quarrel with some one.

“No, I shall not," said the Earl bluntly, laying down a newspaper and coming to her side. “Why should I ?”

“Because you will have good sport and congenial society at Mount Trafford, and you had neither here. Geoff Trafford says the Grantham preserves are not preserved.”

"They might be better ; but the hunting has been first-rate, and as to the congenial society, Margaret, you know tolerably well the only fault is, I did not get enough of it."

" · Whose ?" said Miss Grantham, opening her eyes with an expression of wondering simplicity. “Lady Brockhurst's, or Madame de Beaumanoir?"

“ You can be the most provoking, puzzling, ridiculous girl that ever lived. Madame de Beaumanoir ! As if I would look at her, or she at me, while Geoff was in the

“Come, do not be scandalous. You know they were friends since before the Flood !” Miss Grantham spoke lightly, though the Earl's words sent a thrill of pain through her nerves.

“Of course I do. He nearly lived at the Hótel Pontigny when we were in Paris last spring."

“I thought he was constantly with that Madame de--somethingMrs. Berry-what do you call her ? or, rather, Miss Grey, who must have been the most companionable of the two."

Though Miss Grantham spoke sweetly and gaily, and Torchester was not a man of rapid perceptions, he espied danger in the tendency of his cousin's remark. He looked towards the subject of this possible jealousy, who was at the moment explaining a trick to Mr. Longmore, with the sweet, bright, intelligent smile that had once charmed him so much, and feeling how unjust any suspicion of undue intimacy was both to Trafford (of whose visits he knew little or nothing), and the

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gentle girl to whom such an imputation might be most injurious, he hastened to reply:

“ Mrs. Berry-Miss Grey-oh, no! He only went there with me. I was the habitué. I think it bored Geoffrey to go there. We all liked Miss Grey, you know; she was so quiet, and gentle, and unlike the rest."

"And what on earth took you there, Tor?" asked Miss Grantham, greatly relieved by the Earl's tone.

“De Bragance took me there."

“Do you mean to say that you associated with that dreadful man, who behaved so infamously to Miss Grey's friend ?"

“He was a very well-bred fellow, and exceedingly good-looking ; you would have been delighted with him.”

“I am sure I should not. And what did you do at these soirées ?"

" Oh, nothing particular-played cards sometimes."

“And I have no doubt you lost your money. I hope you are not a gambler, Tor ?" This random shot told.

“I am not, indeed ; and you don't care a straw what I am." “I do, you ungrateful boy! I look on you as a brother.”

Well, I do not look on you as a sister.” “Yes you do—you always did. And so you, not Geoff, were Miss Grey's ally in Paris??”

“Yes,” said the Earl, dimly conscious of spiting Trafford, “ he was always philosophising with the Marquise till he got tired of the whole concern.“

“So you left the Berry party in Paris ?”

“Yes. I think Geoffrey mentioned having gone to one of the receptions after I left.”

Miss Grantham dared not question more; she just threw out a leader:

“I suppose Geoffrey was very pleased to meet Madame de Beaumanoir again ?"

"He never said so, but it looked like it. Now, Margaret, what are you going to do ?-I mean before you come up to town. Have you quite made up your mind not to go to Llanelwy?”

“I have not thought about it; but I must answer Lady Hillshire's letter to-morrow. I think I shall go. Who is to be there ?"

I “I am, which ought to be enough. St. Lawrence and Lady Brockhurst and Sir Hugh Erskine, and Geoffrey Trafford. He said he would go, and some more people I forget. Do come; you will be moped to death here."

"Fretting for you, eh? Well, I daresay I shall; and after all, we are closely related - it is not like going to a strange house. I think I will go, Tor.”

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