A Mental Struggle. 31
That the younger Mr. Brown should be insensible to this
attraction is not for a moment to be hoped. That Patricia
should wish him to be attracted is the fear that is haunting
Miss Pleriot. If she should ever be brought to regard him
with a special favour, that would be as an abomination in
the eyes of her sister. And somehow that last thoughtless
speech of Patricia's had startled her. It had been made in
jest, no doubt; but it seems to Miss Heriot as though a
jest on such a subject is very like a placid encouragement
If Patricia were to lose her heart, and insist on marry¬
ing this man called Brown, what a horrible thing it would
be ! What an mredeemable mesalliance !—Patricia ! who
is bound to make a good marriage with her face and general
charms. An elder son of irreproachable family—should a
title fail, which is unlikely—would be the thing. But as
for the cotton-man------
The cotton-man entering at this moment with the others
puts to flight all Miss Heiiot's withering reflections.
Patricia, who in a manner seems to have adopted the
older Brov/n, now carries him off triumphantly to be beaten
at chess—a game at which she is a proficient.
" Ah ! I pity you. Brown," cries Sir Hugh, laughing,
as they go by. " You have an antagonist of whom I bid
you beware. Every night she brings me to grief; yet I
was not accounted such a bad player in my time. But she
lays traps—she has secret moves. Yes; she will hold you
up to public shame !"
Sandie, as in duty bound (Tom is with his regiment)
falls into line near Miss Brown, and devotes to her all the
light and airy converse of which he is complete master. He
is young, and good to look at, arid to-night rather surpasses
himself in the brilliancy of his nothings. He is on his very
best behaviour, though not entirely happ}^, or as suited as he
would be. " Conversing with pale nonentities is trying !"
he confesses to Imogen next morning. But just now he
gets through his work with a gallantry that should have
won him the Victoria Cross—a gallantry so admirable, that
once it wins a blush from the passive Elinor—a weakness
hitherto unknown in the annals of that emotionless damsel.