Page:Tales of John Oliver Hobbes.djvu/430

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A Bundle of Life.

respect for his undeniable merits. I hope, however—I earnestly hope that he will not do anything rash. In fact, I may as well confess that I am in a difficulty. As Harold was obliged to go to town to-day, and as Ventry is not well, I asked Mr. Wiche if he would escort Felicia and myself to the Bishop's Bazaar this afternoon. I see now that it might cause gossip in the neighbourhood; people make such absurd remarks. Besides, I fear it is scarcely kind to throw the poor man so frequently in the dear child's society. Do you think you could keep him amused in some way until we have left the house: we can pretend that there was some blunder and perhaps take Mr. Van Huyster....These things are difficult to explain."

"I think I understand," said Lady Mallinger: "of course, I will do anything to make myself useful. But I must at least change my gown: I heard him say he liked my blue muslin!" She went out laughing so gaily, that Teresa, who was playing mournful music, left the piano and came down to her cousin.

"What is the joke?" she asked.

Lady Twacorbie did not hesitate over her reply. She had made up her mind that Teresa was dying of love for the elegant Ventry and would therefore have no interest in the matrimonial schemes with regard to Sidney Wiche.

"Ventry has convinced me with regard to Van Huyster and Felicia," she said, at once."Obstinacy is not one of my faults, and I am never deaf to reason. I have arranged everything in the most charming way: Lilian has agreed to distract Mr. Wiche's attention. Of course, dear, I would have asked you, but you are much too clever! One can only trust