A Mental Struggle. 105
Shs turns away from him as she makes this apology, and
gives all her attention, seemingly, to the child upon her
knees. Somehow this small, curt neglect of his presence
hurts him more than all that has gone before. He
changes his position abruptly, and stares out of the
A long silence ensues. Then again—in a very low
voice, and coldly still—she speaks. And what is there in
her voice that suggests to him the idea that she is a little
bit ashamed of herself ?
" What is it you would do for her ? " she asks gently.
" Far less than you can do," exclaims he vehemently,
facing her. " I can give her no tender words, no com¬
forting assurance; I can only send her, to-night, a slip of
" That will outweigh in her esteem all tender words of
mine," interrupts she with a half-smile. " Be comforted ;
you will do her more good with that small ' slip of paper'
you mention than I could with a thousand protestations."
She pauses. " It is very good of you," she finishes slowly.
The child, who has been fidgeting with the trinkets on
her chain, now drags out her watch and drops it into her
lap. Taking it up, her eyes fall upon the dial.
" So late ! " she exclaims. " I must be going."
At this moment Mrs. Dempsey re-enters the room.
" 'Tis late, too, dear," she says in her soft way. " The
masther will be mad if ye're late for dinner." It is evi¬
dent that she remembers acutely all the small touches of
life that stirred her existence when in service at The
Chevies. " An' that child in yer arms all this time 1
Patsey, I'm tellin' ye I'll be even v/id ye for it yet."
" I have told you I like him; he is such a pretty boy ' "
says Imogen, sweetly.
But Patsey the ungrateful, careless of this sweet speech,
has now raised himself upright on Miss Heriot's knees, and
seeing something attractive in Felix, or Felix's belongings,
is holding out his arms to him, and kicking vigorously to
Felix hesitates, glancing at Imogen, and laughing a
little As for her, she loosens her arms from round