but he was not mean-spirited. "Oh, well," he said, "I dare say he knows a lot, only where should we be if he jawed on big things?" Cynthia liked him so much for this that she looked him straight in the face and smiled—an action which made so much difference to Edward, that he felt almost compensated for her behaviour at dinner.
"I think we might have some music, Cynthia," said the Rector, who entered at that moment, followed by Sir James and Provence, the former of whom had detained them in the conservatory to dilate on the merits of his new head-gardener and some freshly imported guano.
Cynthia went to the piano, and played with much passion and bewildering inaccuracy the noisiest of the Rhapsodies Hongroises. Her enthusiasm and easy familiarity with the loud pedal were almost professional. Until she had finished her remarkable performance Provence held his breath and all but wished himself away. Then he forgot everything—even her want of culture (as he understood it, that is to say, for culture of a sort was a stalled ox at the Rectory) and the wrong notes—in contemplating the beautiful flush which followed her exertions. In common with many who are wise by profession and not a few who are similarly gifted by nature, Provence's wisdom was of far greater service to his friends—when they would avail themselves of it—than to himself. His discernment in reading character, which belonged rather to an almost feminine instinct than to academic logic, and was part of his literary faculty, was completely overbalanced in the case of Cynthia by the strong personal magnetism she had