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Catherine knelt by Lady Sarah's chair, and hid her face upon the flowered lilac satin sleeves of Lady Sarah's gown. For the first time since the blow had fallen she found a moment's comfort in human sympathy. ‘My poor child—my darling Catherine,’ murmured the old woman in a broken voice hardly recognisable as her own; and the rare painful tears of age dropped slowly, one by one, on to the bent head, where threads of silver shone among the soft brown hair. ‘And it is I who should be comforting you—who have lost your— your last child,’ Catherine sobbed. “I feel so disloyal, so heartless, when I think of him; and yet—this other trouble has swallowed up everything.’ ‘It is Philippa who is my last child now,” said Lady Sarah. “Do not give way, my darling. It is the living of whom we must think, not the dead. His hopes, like ours, were bound up in her.’ The hand which rested on Catherine's soft hair trembled slightly. She thought remorsefully that it was she who had advised Catherine to part with her child; and that Catherine had not uttered a single reproach, nor reminded her of the fact which Lady Sarah could not forget. ‘You know that Augusta has been here ? She is going to the Abbey with you to-morrow, she says.” “But I am not going to stay,” said Catherine. “I shall get there in time for—for the inquest. But directly that is over— oh, how dreadful, how dreadful it all is l—David says I shall be able to come straight back. I need not stay the night. I could not. And besides—the Ralts are going to stay with her. She says she does not want them, but it is better they should go, and Grace Trumoin will go too. The Ralts have been very kind. They have placed a motor at David's disposal. They say we shall have more clues by the time I return, to follow up.” ‘Catherine, save your strength for to-morrow, and rest to-night.” ‘How can I rest, and my darling perhaps—’ she gave a little cry and shudder. “I dare not think. I must not stay with you even now. But I felt you had been neglected, and I hoped you might have some idea—some suggestion.” She uttered a little mirthless laugh that went to Lady Sarah's heart. “But perhaps you are too wise to offer suggestions that almost drive one mad with their unlikelihood. The detective, Mr. Mills, has been questioning and questioning till I am almost mad. And then one must go through it all again with somebody else. He asked me if she had been happy at home. My little Phil, my baby, for whom I would lay down my life; was she happy with me?” She looked calmly and with inexpressible sadness at Lady Sarah. “And the dreadful part is this—that I could not honestly say yes,” said Catherine. * Hush, my darling, hush | you little foolish creature,” said Lady Sarah, to whom Catherine, even yet, seemed almost a child herself. “She was as happy as the day is long. She had everything to make her happy.” * She did not think so,” said Catherine with a wan smile. ‘That is the sad, funny thing, you know. It wasn’t our love, nor our care and petting she wanted, but something new, something different.’ “Girls are full of fancies and ingratitude, and senselessness,” said Lady Sarah angrily. “You are a fool, my love, to dwell upon such nonsense.” “Girls are full of fancies—yes, that is what Mr. Mills said,” said Catherine wearily, and she leaned her head on her hand, and thought of the questions she had been asked, and which she had resented, in the midst of her anxiety to afford every possible help, every imaginable clue, to the questioner. ‘Happy? How can I say? I’ve thought of nothing but her happiness from morning till night. What has that to do with her disappearance 2 She has been decoyed away,” she had said. ‘Madam, in our experience it has a good deal to do with girls of that age leaving their homes,’ the inspector had answered bluntly. “At fifteen or sixteen they often get, if you’ll excuse me, ma'am, discontented with everything, no matter what’s done for them ; fancying no one understands them, or working themselves up so that you'd almost begin to believe they were ill-treated, though you know to the contrary.’ Then he had been touched by Catherine's distress and had begged her pardon. “You’ll excuse my plain speaking, ma'am, but I’ve daughters of my own,” he said compassionately. “Dealing with some girls of that age is like treading on eggs. And it stands to reason that a young lady accustomed to indulge every whim 2. * She was not,’ cried Catherine. But the inspector had heard a very different story from Augusta, who, being in an excessively injured frame of mind, and feeling that, at least, she could not be held responsible for the disposition of Catherine's daughter, had vented her indignation against Philippa by roundly declaring her to be the most ungrateful, pig-headed, wilful, sullen-tempered girl in the world, who cared for nothing but having her own way, and who thought of nobody but herself from morning till night. But Catherine was fortunately all unaware of the character which Augusta had drawn of her young cousin and guest. Lady Sarah shook her head sadly. ‘It is all a mystery to me,” she said. “I saw next to nothing of Philippa–Augusta took care of that.” ‘The description of my darling will be in every newspaper in England to-morrow,” said Catherine. “I wrote it for them. They said there was no hope of avoiding publicity, and that indeed publicity gives us the best chance of finding her quickly.” She started nervously to her feet. ‘I must go. I feel every moment something may be happening, and I not there to help.” ‘Don’t forget me,’ said Lady Sarah pathetically. “Spare me a few moments when you can. I am very old and helpless and lonely, Catherine, sitting here by myself.” Even in the midst of her heart-sickening anxiety Catherine could not but realise how shaken the old woman's nerves must be before Lady Sarah—stern, ironical, and self-controlled through all her past sorrows—could make such an appeal.
IN the course of a lecturing tour which befel eight years ago, announcement in the local papers that I was to visit Gloucester brought me a letter from an unknown correspondent urgently asking for an interview. Having half an hour to spare, I called and heard the interesting disclosure that I, as head of the Hereford branch of the Lucy family, am the rightful owner of Charlecote. I bore the news with philosophical calmness, but was interested in the voluminous notes of pedigree my friend in his zeal had acquired. They showed, what is an uncontested fact, that in the year 1786 George Lucy of Charlecote died childless. There was much hunting for the heir, resulting in the claim of a Mr. Hammond, a second cousin of the late lord of Charlecote, being conceded. Whereupon he, by sign manual, took the name of Lucy. According to my informant, my forbears, then living in Ledbury, whose church still shelters monuments to dead-and-gone Lucys, should have fought for their own. Probably in those days of slack intercommunication they never heard of the sudden death of the intestate owner of Charlecote. However it be, I must leave the responsibility with them. I was born at Crosby, near Liverpool, on December 5. It is characteristic of the haphazard ways of the household to which I was introduced that it is at this time uncertain whether the year was 1844 or 1845. With old-age pensions in view, I begin to think it must have been 1844. Crosby at that time was a rural village. Certainly there was a garden attached to our house, as I remember my mother telling me how my father used to carry me round it, picking for me the largest strawberries. Even at the time this was told me I thought it notable, since it was about all he ever did for me. An engraver in the watch trade, admittedly of great taste and skill, he never within my knowledge was capable of making both ends meet. His father was a well-to-do old gentleman with a large family, amongst whom on his death he equally divided his fortune. I do not remember the legacy making any appreciable difference in our household. Probably it was mortgaged in advance. My grandfather lived in a terrace of white houses at Seacombe, facing the river and Liverpool. I recollect only once finding myself in his august presence. He was sitting at one side of the fireplace (left-hand side going in), a prim gentleman dressed in black, with a white neckcloth and a chilling aspect. On the other side of the fireplace sat an old lady, also bolt upright, in a black gown, with a colossal white cap on her head, on the whole of a kindlier aspect. There came to me in due order of bequeathal their portraits, painted more than a hundred years ago by a master-hand. They hang in our dining-room in London, and follow the comings and goings of their grandson with wondering eyes. My grandfather put me through a tremendous examination, chiefly in arithmetic, and when it was over gave me fourpence. From the length of the examination I expected at least half a crown. As it turned out, fourpence was the kinder gift. At that time there was stationed at the approach to St. George's Landing Stage at Liverpool a man with a truck on which was displayed a tempting array of a compound resembling very stiff batter pudding. Greyishwhite in hue, here and there a raisin was ostentatiously stuck on the surface. It was sold in slabs, a penny each. Passing homeward, I invested half my capital in this nameless substance. I was dreadfully ill after eating it, and see now the finger of Providence in my grandfather's restraint from opulent generosity. If he had given me the half-crown and I had bought fifteen pennyworth of this stuff, my career, not yet started, would never have been run. “Called hence by early doom,” I should have ‘lived but to show how sweet a flower in Paradise might bloom.’