A Mental Struggle. 33
The room seems to have grown singularly silent. Is
everyone talking ia whispers ? Across the embarrassing
quiet comes Patricia's voice, with a clear and mellow sound.
" Check!" cries she, with a little gay soft laugh of
richest triumph, bringing her palms together in her
delight. Her mirth is echoed by her antagonist, who
appears disgracefully callous to the dire and smft destruc¬
tion that is hanging over his head. There is something
inexpressibly bright and refreshing about Patricia as one
sees her at this moment.
" What a charming face your sister has!" says Felix,
who has been apparently studying the "charming face"
since last Miss Heriot spoke. "How full of life—how
" Y'^es," coldly, " you are right; she is sympathetic. That
is what constitutes her chief charm. She is amiable to all
alike, always, both in season and out of it."
"A character to be envied," declares Felix. "Mo.stof
us know certain people to whom, with the best intentions
possible, we find it impossible to be civil at times. Your
sister is to be congratulated."
" I do not think she would care to be congratulated on
her virtues," returns she languidly, letting her heavily
fringed lids fall over her eyes.
Silence follows this chilling speech, and then :
" You have a headache, I am afraid," says Felix Brown
quietly, yet with a determination that startles her. She
glances at him as if desirous of reading his thoughts. " I
so much regret I did not sooner discover it. To have to
converse when one is not in the humour for it, is a terrible
thing. I can hardly dare to hope you will forgive me for
boring you as I have done."
He makes a movement as if to rise. Something in his
tone appeals to Imogen's sense of justice. She has been
hard upon him, cold, almost repellent, because of his
birth, which, after all, has been no fault of his. Probably
he is au fond a very estimable young man. Well, she
will make up for her coldness now; she will be gracious
to him, as she well knows how to be, and will charm him
into forgetting her late incivility.