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"SHE didn't say that she could never care about me," replied the stockbroker, when I asked him what he thought. "If she had, you wouldn't see me here now. I should have been off to the real Rialto; for I've got a first-rate fellow in the Avenue now."

"Jackson, my enquiry was about my own affair. I want to know what you think of my chance there." I looked at him severely, for this inattention was too bad. "Well, and I gave you a parallel. We are almost in the same boat, I should say; though yours is a sort of savage canoe, full of Oriental fish-tails, no doubt, and liable to Vendetta, and many other frightful nuisances. To your young mind all that too probably increases the attraction. But to my mature views, there's romance enough and to spare, in a quiet English maiden, -sweet, gentle, affectionate, firmprincipled, and not too sure of her own mind. Are they to be despised, because you can speak a civil word to them, without having a bullet through you? George, there is more romance really, where you know how to behave, than where you don't."

"Can't see it," I answered, "can't see it at all. Is it poetry to take up your spoon for pea-soup?"

"Poetry be hanged!" cried Jack

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to try to be, a little above the common mark, when he thinks he loves something even better than himself. And to be above the common mark is getting on for poetry.

"You go your own way, and leave me to go mine." I spoke with that elbow-lift of the mind which resembles what coachmen used to do to one another, when they met on the highroad, and did not want to raise the whip. "You will see, Jackson, if you live long enough, that I shall have a better time than you will." For I knew that Grace needed a very light hand; though girls had not got their mouths just yet, half as much as they have now.

"The Lord only grant me the chance of it!" he replied, with the happy rashness of young men. It was not for me to speak against my sister; but I knew all her little ins and outs, and I daresay she thought that she knew mine.

"Let me come down to your happy valley," he continued, with that contempt of my ideas, which I always leave Time to redress, and have seldom found him fail to do it. "I want to see this perfect wonder. Why, Shakespeare himself can have never created any heroine to compare with her. It is out of possibility, my dear George. Bless my heart-Imogen, Portia, Miranda, Rosalind, Juliet, Ophelia -no, she was weak — Sylvia, Helena, half a dozen others rolled into one, down in that little hole! I want to see her, that I may learn to despise the best English girl ever born; or try to pretend to do it, if

1 Copyright, 1897, by Dodd, Mead & Co. in the United States of America.

she won't have me. Do you suppose I was born yesterday?"

When a man carries on like this, you may say what you like-though you are Solomon's Mahatma-without getting a spark of wisdom into him. I longed for Tom Erricker, who could always float on the top of a flood, because he was so light; and in a weak sort of way I had wanted him often, not to unload my mind upon him-for you might as well trust your watch to a floating bladder-but to see him look buoyant, when my mouth was full of brine. But Tom had been summoned by his electroplating parent to fall in love with a very nice young lady, whose father made dish-covers fluted in the rough. Those people had some shooting, and Tom thought that he could shoot. At any rate, it was better for him than the Bar.

"You shall not come near my happy valley"-it would never have done for me to encourage this, -"remember what you said of the hero who lives there. You took him for a forger, or a ticket-of-leave man."

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"Well, I don't care a fig what he is, so long as he gives you satisfaction. But about Grace-I tell you I won't wait. If she kissed her hand to me, is not that enough to show-I shall be there to-morrow; but you must not let her know."

"Not to-morrow, Jackson. Why, it is her butter-day. And if she could ever cut up rough, I believe it would be the butter, at this time of year."

"Not a bit of it. Nothing would ever make her peppery. And she is sure to be at home, and up in your part of the premises. That is where she looks the most enthralling. But don't let her know, for the world, that I am coming."

It was fair that he should have his own way at last, after giving

Grace a luxury of time to think about him, since his offer was made about ten days ago, when she put all the blame of her shilly-shally upon me! See how differently I did everything.

The following morning I gave her a hint for my duty was to her first, and long afterwards to Jackson-that peradventure somebody in the course of the morning might turn up, to have a look at me in the harness-room; but she took the greatest pains not to understand me, and even put a particularly simple jacket on, of buff-coloured linen smocked with blue, and a delicate suggestion of retiring frondsalmost like a landscape of forgetme-not and lady-fern. But the shade of it was nothing in comparison with the shape, inasmuch as the latter was our Gracie's own; and everybody knows what that means. Only she herself had not the least idea about any part of it. All she cared for was to get on with her work; so she kept all her body and arms in motion, as if she were intent upon throwing shadows.

When the butter was coming forth, crowned with glory,-which the cleverest dairymaid may doubt about, as she has to do sometimes with a little pat or two inside her,

and the long slab of enamelled stuff (for we could not afford white marble) was tilted so that every golden patin could crisp itself without encroachment, and Grace, like a miser telling his moidores, was entering the upshot upon a white slate hanging by a scarlet ribbon, and pondering in her heart with the scales behind her, whether she had tried to cheat any one more than the good of the family demanded, suddenly a riding-glove was waved inside the door, and its fingers went about like bananas on a string, because there was no flesh inside them.

"Can't have you now, Joe," Miss Grace cried, with a presence of mind that could only be surpassed by the colour presented on her cheeks; "come again in half an hour. I am calculating now." As if old Joe Croaker had ever even seen a glove!

"I won't say a word, if I may come in. Oh do let me come in, and be calculated too. If I may only sit upon a pan upside down, or anyhow, quite out of sight in the corner. Oh what a sweet place! I could live upon the smell of it. But I won't even go near the lace-edging of a pat."

"Mr Stoneman! Is it possible? This is one of my brother's proceedings. That I cannot even finish a few pounds of butter! George has done many inconsiderate things— but this seems beyond even his temerity!"

"Miss Cranleigh, I give you my word of honour that I have not even seen him for the day. In fact I came to look for him, to say 'Good-bye,' before I start for Venice. One never knows when one may come back again, you see."

"Of course not. There are so many lovely things out there. The only surprising thing to me is, that any Englishman who can afford to travel spends so much of his time in this commonplace country."

"But you don't mean that! I do hope, Miss Cranleigh, that you have not so low an opinion of your own dear countrymen. And the dearer ones still, your own countrywomen! Foreign girls are all very well in their way. But who with a pair of eyes in his head

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"You have seen more of them than I have, Mr Stoneman. But everybody seems to say that they are most delightful. And even my poor brother George-but I forgot -forgive me, I am not supposed to know anything of that."

"But I do. I know everything

about it," that treacherous stockbroker whispered: can any man be loyal to his best friend, when in love? "What a lucky chance, that you should speak of that!'

"Excuse me, Mr Stoneman; but I never spoke of anything. Only when a mystery is dwelling in one's mind, about one of those who naturally are the dearest to one, and when one's parents do not condescend-you see what I mean; though I really mean nothing."

"Precisely. And with such swift intelligence as yours! It is not for me to hint at my own weak ideas-such a thing as that I never do. And when no one in the family cares a fig for my opinion

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"It is not at all fair of you to say that." Grace cast down her eyes, and then turned away in the most bewitching manner. The stockbroker jumped up from his brown milk-pan; but she looked at him, and he sat down again.

"Be careful, Mr Stoneman, for I am afraid it has a crack. Sally says they cannot make them, as they used to do! But as I was saying, both my father and my mother are thoroughly aware all your good-will. And there is not a tenant on the property, I am


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"How can I think about the blessed tenants? Though of course I try to do my duty to them. But oh, do give me a little taste of butter after that."

"Am I a rogue, that I should dare do such a thing? Twenty-two pounds there, and not a pennyweight to spare. And old Mrs Ramshorn made a fuss last time. After a cigar, how can you taste? Your taste must be very far from perfect."

"My taste is absolute perfection; and that is why-what I mean is, why I enjoy this most exquisite result. But a coward is

ever so much worse than a rogue; and to shrink from the test is cowardly. I could never have believed it of Miss Cranleigh."

"Very well. But you shall pay for what you eat. I will take it from one of your own pats, that are going to the Hall in half an hour. But you must not blame me, if it is not first-rate. Slemmick, the cleverest man we have, says that there is a leaf coming down now, which gets between the blades of grass, and it is useless for the cows to blow at it, for it makes a point of getting into their very finest butter. George calls it nonsense. But what right has he, when Slemmick was brought up so much more out of doors?"

"Slemmick is sure to know most about it. A man who has never heard the names of things, always knows most about them. Therefore do let me give true judgment on the butter."

"Then you have never heard the name of butter!"

"Oh dear, oh dear! you leave one less than a shred of the soundest argument," was the reply of the infatuated stockbroker. "Reason would have been the noun to use, after a twelvemonth of matrimony.

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Now you must understand," said Grace, in the flush of that triumph of intellect, "that nothing ever tastes its best, when taken out of its proper course. No metal should ever be used with fresh butter. This is a blade of hard white wood, I quite forget the name of it. But I can easily find out. Let me run and ask old Sally. You can't wait? Very well, then I must cut it short, and tell you when you come back from Venice. But to think that I made all of those, and the ready money they will fetch!"

She dropped her eyelids just a little, and spread one palm above them, as if the dance of pleasure in

her eyes required veiling; and then she finished her sentence. "It is a lovely place, I hear. How nice it will be, to be there! How much you will enjoy yourself!"

"You are quite wrong there," replied Stocks and Stones. "I expect to have a most wretched time. What do I care for the Stones of Venice? I am not going to please my very miserable self. You know why I am going, Miss Cranleigh.'

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"Mr Stoneman! How should I know? I have not the very smallest idea!" Oh what a dreadful story, Grace ! And did you make it better or worse, by a blush, and quick palpitation of the guilty breast that harboured it?

"Then I am going for this cause. There is somebody in this country who has got me entirely under foot, and tramples on me every day. There is no cure for it, but to run away. I have no spirit left. eyes are always on the ground."


"Indeed! Well, I have not perceived that. But if you have no will of your own, what else is there for you to do? But it seems so unEnglish to run away. You are not weak, Mr Stoneman. My brother says that you are very strong. And he would be only too glad to help you. He is too fond of what the reporters love to describe as personal violence."

"If it were a man, I might have some hope, even without such a champion. But when the tyrant is a lady, and the most perfect of her sex, one against whom it is impossible to rebel

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"This does you the very highest credit. And it is so unusual. A great friend of mine, and such a sweet girl, quite adores her stepmother. But men-though I know so little of them- but I fancied that they were apt to feel a kind— a kind of prejudice. Narrow, no doubt, but violent."

"It is worse than fifty stepmothers. My step is a quiet sweettempered woman; and I wish that I saw more of her; but she seems to prefer her own relatives. Now, as if you did not know what I mean! What did I tell you the other day?"

"A variety of things. And what did I tell you? And didn't you say very clearly that you liked me all the better for my objections?"

"No, no. Come, that is a twist! I said that I respected your objections, but thought them extremely romantic, and would live in the hope of your trying to get over them. May I sit upon this tub, and reason with you? Oh how I wish I was a dairyman!"

"My brother George is in love with a lady," said Grace, who never saw the way to miss the very worst of jokes, "who will want a lot of practice, before she can sit down. What on earth will he do with her when he gives a dinner-party?" This was a thoroughly vulgar error, as I have shown most distinctly


"Poor George, what a fool he is making of himself! But no brother of yours could ever be a fool. For give me for the moment I was forgetting the great mental powers of your family, Miss Cranleigh."

"You need not call me that, unless you wish it. I mean at least you need not call me that, so often. After all that you have done for us, it sounds so formal."

"Bless your kind heart! what have I ever done for you? But Grace is what I should love to call you; Grace, Grace, and nothing else. Unless I might add another word, beginning with a d"

"All words beginning with a d are bad. But there can't be much harm in Grace, that I know of. Only you shouldn't say it, very often."

"Oh dear, no! Not more than

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"What else are you doing yourself, if you please? If you would only allow me one moment, to explain

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"In the name of the Lord will I destroy them."

"Oh Mr Jackson Stoneman !

She looked at him in doubt of his ferocity, or sanity; and he in high spirits clapped his heels on the floor, and sprang up, and began to draw nearer. "No tub will do for me. I must have a throne. I am the King of the City, and of Surrey. Grace Cranleigh has proclaimed it."

"Truly you are in a great haste to crown yourself. She has never done anything of the kind. But if to make an ell out of half an inch is kingly”

"If I did that, I will soon put it right. Let me make half an inch out of the ell now."

"No, no! I insist upon your staying where you are. There is a little door going out, between these two pans; and unless you are quite sensible, you will see no more of me."

"How can I be quite sensible, when I see any? Oh Grace, Grace, you cannot conceive what a relief to me it is, to be able to utter your name, with a joy, with a pride, with an ecstasy inconceivable!"

"Mr Stoneman, you are upon the Stock Exchange, and a certified

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