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As they sat down Lady Betty contrived without notice to wipe her eyes with her hand. The next moment she was chatting to Hugh Sinclair in very tolerably archaic English. The ringlets she wore became her small and dainty-featured face, and she could afford to wear a dress which trusted to natural qualities. So could Bertha Mostyn, her friend, whose blond ringlets fell prettily over a high complexion. The men were sumptuous in lace and velvet; but their short hair gave them—and more especially Fairbrother-something of an appearance of Roundheads who had rifled their enemies' wardrobes. But Lord Mereworth wore his strange dress easily, as did Hugh Sinclair, a dark youth with rather a Roman face. Arthur Fairbrother, it was to be confessed, looked uncomfortable, and palpably dressed up, and his smile was a trifle rigid.

Truth to tell, his dinner had not been happy. The habit of 1660 suited him only in that it showed his sturdy calves, and they were hidden by the table. The language bothered him. He had tried conscientiously to get it up, but could never think of the phrase he wanted, whereas the others, who merely guessed at it, were never at a loss. Its strange terms gave them many opportunities for the chaff they loved, which they pushed to a point of rather forcible frankness. Mereworth and his friends were of a set which was quite free from any vulgarity there may be in prudery or mincingness of ex

pression: on the contrary, in its intimate moments it permitted itself much innocent plain-speaking, and the respectable Arthur Fairbrother had been shocked aforetime. On this occasion, the frankness of an earlier period assisting, he was most unhappy, and quite unable to respond. He should have reflected that the plainspeaking was a token of intimacy to him, since it would not have been used before a stranger not of their society; but he did not so reflect, and was the victim of an increasing embarrassment, which the others, in the jollity of the proceedings, did not notice. For even Lady Betty had been only once distressed, when her brother's little speech reminded her vividly of other times,—or perhaps she forced her gaiety to hide her feelings, and was too busy in doing so to remember poor Fairbrother's.

It was worse when she and Bertha Mostyn, her friend, were gone from the dining-room, and the three young men were left alone. I should have stated before that these five were the whole assembly, the two other people invited having made good excuses, or having felt unequal to the masquerade. Mereworth and Hugh Sinclair settled down to the telling of stories, and the stories were very frank and free, a pleasure being found in re-dressing old ones in archaic English - the archaism, of course, being much exaggerated, and recruited from many periods. Fairbrother was quite disgusted. He felt that the anticipated romance had

turned out very commonly, not remembering that such stories were by no means an unknown element of the conversation of 1660 England, and had been told with remarkable skill by its king. He sat rather sullenly, and his contribution to realism was mainly the drinking of a large quantity of claret and port in addition to that he had drunk at dinner. And wine, I regret to say, had never an amiable effect on Arthur Fairbrother, but inclined him to be quarrelsome. Mereworth, Mereworth, who for his share had been attentive to this part of the play, forgot to conciliate him, or took his sympathy for granted.

So another hour passed, while the red died out of the sky and the night grew black and cloudy. Then they went for a dish of tea to the drawingroom. A little little later they decided to play cards; but Fairbrother, his sulkiness still on him, was disinclined. He watched them a while, and then said he would go back to the dining-room for another cup of claret.

"Odd's my life, the very thing!" cried Mereworth. "And we'll join you anon, sweet chuffikins. Or come back drunk, and we'll all love you." Lady Betty waved her hand, and brightly shook her ringlets. So Fairbrother went back to the dining-room, feeling dimly and quite wrongly that they were laughing at him.

The dining-room at Mereworth was separated from the drawing-room, which looked from the front of the house on to the wood, by the length and

breadth of the big hall, and its long windows looked on to the fields and the sea. The servants' quarters also, at the back of the house, were distant by its length, and they were celebrating their own especial feast. So that Fairbrother in the dining-room, gloomily drinking at the table, felt very much alone and deserted, and every bumper of claret intensified his discontent, and when he turned to port the effect was the same. The air of content you have seen him wear in London was rather due to physical wellbeing and social success than to a sunny temperament; and now that he had drunk not wisely and believed himself to be despised and neglected, his mood was extremely irritable. Being, however, with such faults as he may have had, a genuine Yorkshireman, his vague desire was to fight somebody rather than to sit sulking. He rose after a while, pushed his chair violently back, and began to pace the room angrily. He stopped opposite the portrait of Sir Eustace Flair and frowned at it. This was a nice sort of person (he reflected) for a family to commemorate a drunken, gambling blackguard. He had read the story in Grammont since his conversation with Mrs Ogilvie, being anxious to know what was to be known of the Flairs, and had read besides the story of Isabel Flair, Sir Eustace's sister, who made the formal garden round the corner; and he asked himself rather savagely if all the Flairs? He walked away to the long window, and opening it drank in

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with a snort the air of a chilly May evening.

A man came out of the darkness suddenly and stood before him, and he stepped back a pace into the room. The man stepped in past him and stood in the light, and then Fairbrother stepped back again in amazement, for this man was neither Mereworth nor Sinclair, and yet he wore the habit they wore that night. He was tall and dark and handsome, and he wore black velvet and black silk stockings, and had a sword by his side. He smiled on Fairbrother, and saluted him with a sweep of a black plumed hat, which he then put again on his head.

"Who," said Fairbrother "who on earth are you' u?"

"Nay, look on me," said the other; "you should know your host."

"My host is Lord Mereworth."

"By your favour, kind sir. This is indeed Mereworth House, yet no lord am I, as I have a soul they tell me will be damned. And yet I am your host." He walked to the portrait of Sir Eustace Flair, and stood under it. "I am plain Sir Eustace Flair, at your service."

Fairbrother looked. There was indeed a very strong resemblance, and to Fairbrother's eye the portrait might well have been that of the intruder. Fairbrother put his hand to his forehead, and for a moment thought that the event might be a delusion of wine, or that he had fallen asleep and was dreaming. Then he thought it might be one of the disappoint


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ing guests, arrived late and unexpected. But no he knew they were not coming. walked towards the door, but the stranger took a step quickly from the picture and put himself in front of it.

"You would leave your host somewhat suddenly. But I have answered your question, and you should answer mine. 'Tis needless, notwithstanding: you are Master Fairbrother, are you not?"

"How the devil did you know my name?"

"Good Master Fairbrother, you are welcome to my poor house, but you are not the most courteous guest it has received."

"Stand out of my way," said Fairbrother angrily, and taking hold of the stranger's arm he gave it a savage pull, which did not however move him from his position. But it caused a change in the man's demeanour: his smile vanished, and a flash of passion came into his face. "Uncivil churl!" he said, and struck Fairbrother with his open hand on the cheek. Fairbrother aimed a blow at his face, which he warded easily, and the next moment he had drawn his sword, and pointed it at Fairbrother's breast.

"If we're to fight, you and I," he said, passionately, "it shall be seriously. Draw your sword. Stay, it's not a gimcrack thing, is it? They gave it you here? Right, I see; I know it. Draw, damn you ! Can you fence? I know you can; draw, if you're not a coward!"

"Yes, I can fence; but I'm not going to fight like a mad2 z


Get out of my way, or I'll knock you down."

But the stranger kept the point of his sword at Fairbrother's breast, and it could not be passed. Fairbrother dropped his hands, and in a moment the stranger had struck him with the flat of his sword, and recovered his position before the other could rush in. And then Fairbrother, with fighting blood in his veins and claret in his head, drew his sword and put himself on guard, and the blades crossed. And in this strange way there happened a thing which may well have happened there before, but could not have happened the dress and the act considered-for two hundred and thirty odd years in the dining-room at Mereworth.

But my romance is trivial, and I have to record that the fight was bloodless. Fairbrother

attacked fiercely; but the stranger, recovering his composure and the smile coming back to his face, contented himself with defence, and made no actual passes. They had fought for a few seconds only when a girl's voice called "Arthur!" in the hall, and a moment later, "Why, what's happening?" Fairbrother slipped on the polished edge of the floor, and knocked his head violently against the wall in falling, and between the blow and wine and confusion lost consciousness and lay still. the moment the door opened, and Lady Betty ran in. She stopped suddenly and covered her face with her hands, giving a little shriek. But it was not until two or three minutes afterwards that she ran into the


drawing room, crying that

Arthur had hurt himself and was lying unconscious.

(To be continued.)


SURE, maybe ye've heard the storm-thrush
Whistlin' bould in March,

Before there a primrose peepin' out,

Or a wee red cone on the larch: Whistlin' the sun to come out o' the cloud, An' the wind to come over the sea,But for all he can whistle so clear an' loud, He's never the bird for me.

Sure, maybe ye've seen the song-thrush
After an April rain,

Slip from in-undher the drippin' leaves,
Wishful to sing again;

Och, low wid love when he's near the nest,
An' loud from the top o' the tree,-

But for all he can flutter the heart in your breast,
He's never the bird for me.

Sure, maybe ye've heard the cushadoo

Callin' his mate in May,

When one sweet thought is the whole of his life,

An' he tells it the one sweet way.

But my heart is sore at the cushadoo

Filled wid his own soft glee, Over an' over his "me an' you!"He's never the bird for me.

Sure, maybe ye've heard the red-breast
Singin' his lone on a thorn,
Mindin' himself o' the dear days lost,
Brave wid his heart forlorn:

The time is in dark November,
An' no spring hopes has he:

"Remember," he sings, "remember!"—
Ay, thon's the wee bird for me.


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