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Castalia shrugged her shoulders in undisguised scorn. “All that nonsense is nothing to the purpose,” said she, throwing her 南海盐步桑拿网 head back against the cushion of the chair she sat on. Mrs. Errington opened her blue eyes to their widest extent. “Really, Castalia! ‘All that nonsense!’ You are not very polite.”

“I’m sick of all the pretences, and shams, and deceptions,”

returned Castalia, her eyes glittering feverishly, and her thin fingers twining themselves together with nervous restlessness. “I don’t know whether you are made a fool of yourself, or are trying to make a fool of me——”


“But, in either case, I am not duped. Your ‘sweet Rhoda!’ Don’t you know that she is an artful, false coquette—perhaps worse!”


“Yes, worse. Why should she not be as bad as any other low-bred creature who lures on gentlemen to make love to her? Men are such idiots! So false and fickle! But, though I may be injured and insulted, I will not be laughed 佛山夜生活qq群 at for a dupe.”

“Good heavens, Castalia! What does this mean?”

“And I will tell you another thing, if you really are so blind to what goes on, and has been going on, for years: I don’t believe Ancram has gone to the post-office to-

night at all. I believe he has gone to see Rhoda. It would not be the first time he has deceived me on that score!”

Mrs. Errington sat holding the arms of her easy-chair with both hands, and staring at her daughter-in-law. The poor lady felt as if the world were turned upside down. It was not so long since old Maxfield had astonished her by plainly showing that he thought her of no importance, and choosing to turn her out of his house. And now, here was Castalia conducting herself in a still more amazing manner. Whilst she revolved the case in her brain—much confused and bewildered as that organ 佛山桑拿全套特服 was—and endeavoured to come to some clear opinion on it, the younger woman got up and walked up and down the room with the restless, aimless, anxious gait of a caged animal.

At length Mrs. Errington slowly nodded her head two or three times, drew a long breath, folded her hands, and, assuming a judicial air, spoke as follows:

“My dear Castalia! I shall overlook the unbecomingness of certain expressions that you have used towards myself, because I can make allowance for an excited state of feeling. But you must permit me to give you a little advice. Endeavour to control yourself; try to look at things with calmness and judgment, and you will soon perceive how wrong and foolish your present conduct is. And, moreover, you need not be startled if I have discovered the real motive at the bottom of all this display of temper. There 佛山夜生活888论坛 never was a member of my family yet who had not a wonderful gift of reading motives. I’m sure it is nothing to envy us! I have often, for my own part, wished myself as slow of perception as other people, for the truth is not always pleasant. But I must say that I can see one thing very plainly—and that is, that you are most unfortunately and most unreasonably giving way to jealousy! I can see it, Castalia, as plain as possible.”

Mrs. Errington had finished her harangue with much majesty, bringing out the closing sentences as if they were a most unexpected and powerful climax, when the effect of the whole was marred by her giving a violent start and exclaiming, with more naturalness than dignity, “Mercy on us! Castalia, what will you do next? Do shut that window, for pity’s sake! I shall get my death of cold!”

Castalia had opened 佛山桑拿技师招聘 the window, and was leaning out of it, regardless of the sleet which fell in slanting lines and beat against her cheek. “I knew that was his step,” she said, speaking, as it seemed, more to herself than to her mother-in-law. “And he has no umbrella, and those light shoes on!” She ran to the fireplace and stirred the fire into a blaze, displaying an activity which was singularly contrasted with her usual languid slowness of movement. “Can’t you give him some hot wine and water?” she asked, ringing the bell at the same time. When her husband came in she removed his damp great-coat with her own hands, made him sit down near the fire, and brought him a pair of his mother’s slippers, which were quite sufficiently roomy to admit his slender feet. Algernon submitted to be thus cherished and taken care of, declaring, with an amused smile, as he sipped the hot negus, that this fuss was very kind, but entirely unnecessary, as he had not been three minutes in the rain.

As to Mrs. Errington, she was so perplexed by her daughter-in-law’s sudden change of mood and manner, that she lost her presence of mind, and remained gazing from Algernon to his wife very blankly. “I never knew such a thing!” thought the good lady. “One moment she’s raging and scolding, and abusing her husband for deceiving her, and the next she is petting him up as if he was a baby!”

When the fly was announced, and Castalia left the little drawing-room to put on her cloak and bonnet, Mrs. Errington drew near to her son and whispered to him solemnly, “Algy, there is something very strange about your wife. I never saw such a changed creature within the last few weeks. Don’t you think you should have some one to see her?—some professional person I mean? I fear that her brain is affected!”

“Good gracious, mother! Another lunatic? You are getting to have a monomania on that subject yourself!” Algernon laughed as he said it.

“My dear, there may be two persons afflicted in the same way, may there not? But I said nothing about lunatics, Algy. Only—really, I think some temporary disturbance of the brain is going on. I do, indeed.”

“Pooh, pooh! Nonsense, ma’am! But it is odd enough that you are the second person who has made that agreeable suggestion to me within a fortnight. Poor Cassy! That’s all she gets by her airs and her temper.”

“Another person, was there?”

“Yes; it was little Miss Chubb, and——”

“Miss Chubb! Upon my word, I think that Miss Chubb was guilty of taking a considerable liberty in suggesting anything of the kind about the Honourable Mrs. Ancram Errington!”

“Oh, I don’t know about liberty; but, of course, I laughed at her; and, of course, you will too, if she says anything of the kind to you.”

“I shall undoubtedly check her pretty severely if she attempts anything of the sort with me! Miss Chubb, indeed!”

The consequence was, that Mrs. Errington went about among her Whitford friends elaborately contradicting and denying “the innuendos spread abroad about her daughter-in-law by certain presumptuous and gossiping persons;” and thus brought the suggestion before many who would not otherwise have heard of it. All which, of course, surprised and annoyed Algernon very much, who had, naturally, not expected anything of the sort from his mother’s well-known tact and discretion.

One dreary Sunday afternoon, about this time—that is to say, about the end of November—Matthew Diamond rang at the bell of Mr. Maxfield’s door. He had a couple of books under his arm, and he asked the servant, who admitted him, if she could give him back the volume he had last lent to Miss Maxfield. Sally looked askance at the books as she took them from his hand, and shook her head doubtfully.

“It’s one o’ them French books, isn’t it, sir? I don’t know one from another. Would you please step upstairs yourself? Miss Rhoda’s in the drawing-room.”

Diamond went upstairs and tapped at the door of the sitting-room.

“Come in,” said a soft, sweet voice, that seemed to him the most deliciously musical he had ever heard, and he entered.

The old room looked very different from what it had looked in the days when Matthew Diamond used to come there to read Latin and history with Algernon Errington. There were still the clumsy beams in the low ceiling, and the old-fashioned cushioned seats in the bay-window, but everything else was changed. A rich carpet covered the floor; there were handsome hangings, and a couch, and a French clock on the chimney-piece; there was a small pianoforte in the room, too; and, at one end, a bookcase well filled with gaily-bound books. These things were the products of old Max’s money. But there were evidences about the place of taste and refinement, which were due entirely to Rhoda. She had got a stand of hyacinths like those in Miss Bodkin’s room. She had softened and hidden the glare of the bright, brand-new upholstery by dainty bits of lacework spread over the couch and the chairs; and she had, with some difficulty, persuaded her father to substitute 佛山桑拿论坛蒲友交流 for two staring coloured French lithographs, which had decked the walls, a couple of good engravings after Italian pictures. There was a fire glowing redly in the grate, and the room was warm and fragrant. Rhoda was curled up on the window-seat, with a book in her hand, and bending down her pretty head over it, until the soft brown curls swept the page.

Diamond stood still for a moment in the doorway, admiring the graceful figure well defined against the light.

“Come in, Sally,” said Rhoda. And then she looked up from her book and saw him.

“I’m afraid I disturb you!” said Diamond. “But the maid told me to come up.”

“Oh no! I was just reading——”

“Straining your eyes by this twilight! That’s very wrong.”

“Yes! I’m afraid it is not very wise, but I wanted to finish the chapter; and my eyes are really very strong.”

“I 佛山桑拿会所全套一龙 thought you might be at church,” said Diamond, seating himself on the opposite side of the bay-window, and within its recess, “so I asked the maid to get me the book I wanted. But she sent me upstairs.”

“Aunt Betty is at church, and James; but father wouldn’t let me

go. He said it was so raw and foggy, and I had been to church this morning.”

“Yes; I saw you there. But have you not been well, that your father did not wish you to go out?”

“Oh yes; I’m very well, thank you. But I had a little cold last week; and I should have had to walk to St. Chad’s and back, you know. Father doesn’t think it right to drive on the Lord’s day, so he made me stay at home.”

“How very right of him! What were you reading?”