24 A Mental Struggle.
only for his friends' sake. "UTiat a relief it must be to
them to get him safely out of the country ! "
" Is not that a little severe ?" He pushes away a glass
or two, and turns rather more in her direction. " Poor
James never acquired that happy knack of getting on with
people—that graciousness of manner that endears one to
the gr'eat and small alike—with which some are so happily
gifted. You will understand me," he says suddenly, divin¬
ing as if by a marvel the fact that Imogen in her sweeter
pauses can render herself intensely lovable. He seems
pleased ^vith this inspired knowledge, and smiles at her;
but Imogen, deliberately lowering her eyes, gives him no
answering smile, and indeed no answer at all.
For the first time a sense of ungovernable resentment
rises in the 3'oung man's breast and swamps him. He
remains determinately silent. Miss Heriot, with a sensi¬
tive certainty that she has ofipiided him, yet without con¬
trition for the oflence, still feels it her duty to set the con-
versaticnal ball once again rolling.
"You were animadverting upon Lord James Dingwall—
IS it not ?'' she asks a little incorrectly.
" Or you were. It hardly matters—I accept the blame,"
answers Felix coldly and indifferently, " You—or vxis it
I ?—said something, or hinted it, about the crude disagreo-
ability of his ordinary behaviour. But I put that down
more to the wretchedness of his early training than to his
natural disposition—which I believe to be good, though
warped and injured by the embarrassments of his position
when a boy. He may jar upon you in many ways, but to
me James appears in tlie light of a rather fine character."
" It is wonderf tdly charitable of you," murmurs Imogen,
with a slow graceful shrug of her shoulders.
Somebody on her left hand addressing her at this
moment, she breaks off the discussion with Felix, but, hav¬
ing answered the somebody, falls a-thinkmg. By what
right does this son of a common tradesman call Lord
James Dingwall by his Christian name ? How absurd!
How presumptuous ! Y''et in keeping, too. She has
always understood that " this sort of person " is, as a rule,
given to boasting outrageously of its vaguest intimacy