A Mental Struggle, 11
that Would spare poor papa the mortification of being with¬
out his horses. There was that annual ■\usit to town, for
example, which had grown to be part of their lives. " Well,
let us give it up—for this year at all events."
The suggestion, though perhaps a relief, was a severe
blow to the mother. It was during her first season that
Constance had mana2;ed her at'faire so admirablv, fallim:;
into Mnes of the very smoothest at the Hall, and with a
baronetcy in prospective —Constance, who was neither so
chic nor so beautiful as Imogen. It would be a chance
throvATi away, this staying at home, and no one could say
what would have been missed. Imogen, in her first season;
had refused three eligible offers, before which the golden
charms of Harry Travers paled into insignificance. A
second season o-iven, and who could sav to what hei<rhts the
beautiful child might not aspire ? And now, by Imogen's
own desire, this second season was to be abandoned. It
seemed quite dreadful to poor Lady Olivia that this golden
opportunity must be flung aside.
" My dearest," she said, laying her hand on Imogen's
slender fingers, " I hardly think I should be doing my duty
if I were to seek to retrench in that way Consider what
an injustice I should be doing, vou now, and Patricia later
" Never mind the injustice to us; the justice to others is
the thing to consider," said Imogen. Then, with a little
fond smile that softened the severity of her words, "/
shall not mind, nor will Patricia, I know. As for her, she
has a vear to wait accorduis; to your arransjements ; and
perhaps next year—who knows?—something may happen."
" Oh ! the skies may fall, of course," returned Lady
Olivia, just a little impatiently, though her eyes were full
of tears. " That is too Micawberish a sentiment for me to
applaud. It is terrible to me that you should be kept
immured in this desolate place year after j-ear."
" Not year after year. I am gi'^ung us only twelve
months' seclusion. Even that will be the saving of some
time, and then Patricia might be presented. As for me,
it hardly matters. I don't believe I shall ever like anyone
well enough to marry him But Patricia is difierent."