26 A Mental Struggle.
" Ah!" says Felix Brown thoughtfully. He stares
curiously at her beautiful, now slightly gejie face, and
strokes his moustache with an abstracted air.
Is she really as soulless as she declares herself to be 1
Would it be impossible to those cold but lovely eyes to
soften into tenderness ? Could tears dim their brightness ?
He forgets how earnestly he is gazing until Miss Heriot
stirs involuntarily, and lifting her glance to his, encounters
his steady stare, and blushes warmly, angrily. Then he
recollects himself, and the admii-ation his look must have
conveyed, and colours almost as vividly as she does.
" I beg your pardon," he says quietly ; " I am strangely
forgetful at times, and just then I had lost myself in a
speculation as to whether you did, or did not, mean all
that you had said."
" Do not lose yourself again," advises she, ■with a cold
disdainful smile, still persistently resenting the expression
of his eyes; " understand at once that I did entirely mean
all that I said. I have no sympath}' with such people as
you have described. I detest very honestly all ill-bred
people and parvenus—and—want of birth generally ! "
A dead silence follows this speecli. Then :
"We were speaking of Lord James Dingwall, if you
recollect, and he is neither ill-bred nor a punrnu," says
Felix Brown, looking at her steadily with a very pale face;
"your words do not ajiply to him I "
"True. My thoughts must have wandered farther
afield," returns she slowly ; but the disdain has died from
her face, and a curious stillness has taken its place. Her
breath is coming (prickly, and her hands are trembling as
they lie concealed upon her white gown, clasped in a con¬
Then Lady Olivia makes the usual mysterious sign, and
they all rise from the table. Miss Heriot rises too, still
cruelly conscious of the fact that she has been guilty of a
betise, and has in effect been unpardonably rude, for per¬
haps the first time in her life. She might, had time been
allowed have sought to retract her words; would have
glossed over her fault, and turned it almost into a com¬
pliment, as most women possess the art of doing; but it is