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one excuse or another; tried to extract humour from her habitual dissatisfaction.

"It will be like this all day, you see if it isn't. The rain is coming down straight, too, and the smoke's blowing all ways." She changed the subject abruptly, as maids will, intent on her duties. "I'll have to be getting out your clothes. What do you think you'll wear?"

"I meant to try my new whipcord."

"With the wheat-ear hat! What's the good of that if you won't have a chance of going out?"

"One of my new tea-gowns, then?"

"I never did hold with tea-gowns in the morning," Stevens answered lugubriously. "I suppose Mr. Stanton will be coming over. Not but what he'll get wet through."

"I shouldn't be surprised if he came all the same." Margaret smiled, and the omniscient maid reflected the smile, if a little sourly.

"There's never no saying. There's that telephone going. Another mistake, I suppose. I wish I'd the drilling of them girls. Oh! I'm coming, I'm coming!" she cried out to the insensitive instrument. "Don't you attempt to get up till I come back. You're going to have a fire to dress by; calendar or no calendar, it's as cold as winter."

Margaret watched the rain driving in wind gusts against the window until Stevens came back. Somehow the rain seemed to have altered everything,