'airy fairy LILIAN.' 259
lips. To ask her again, to be again perhaps refused!
He gazes frresolutely at the staircase, and then, with a
secret protest against his own weakness, mounts it.
The second dinner-bell has already sounded. There
is no time for further deliberation; going reluctantly
upstairs, he seeks with slow and lingering footsteps his
The room is unlit save by the glorious fire, half
wood, half coal, that crackles, and laughs, and leaps, in
the joy of its own fast living. Upon a couch close to
it, bathed in its warm flames, lies the little slender black-
robed figure so inexpressibly dear to him. She is so
motionless, that but for her wide eyes, gazing so
earnestly into the fire, one might imagine her wrapt
in slumber. Her left arm is thrown upwards so that
her head rests upon it, the other hangs listlessly down¬
wards almost touching the carpet beneath her.
She looks pale, but lovely. Her golden hair shines
richly against the crimson satin of the cushion on
which she leans. As Guy approaches her she never
raises her eyes, although without doubt she sees him.
Even when he stands beside her and gazes down upon
her, wrathful at her insolent disregard, she never
pretends to be aware of his near presence.
'Dinner will be ready in three minutes,' he says,
coldly; ' do you intend coming down to-night ?'
' Certainly. I am waiting for my cousin,' she
answers, with her eyes still fixed upon the fire.
' I am sorry to be the conveyer of news that must
necessarily cause you disappointment. My mother has
had a telegram from Chesney saying he cannot be home
until to-morrow. Business detains him.'
' He promised me he would return in time for
dinner,' she says, turning towards him at last, and
' No doubt he is more upset than you can be at his
unintended defection. But it is the case for all that.
He will not be home to-night.'