MOLLY BAWN. 165
love with me. Oh, Molly, what a revenge that would be 1
And why should he not, indeed ?' Going over to a glass
and gazing earnestly at herself. ' I am pretty—very pretty,
I think. Speak, Molly, and encourage me.'
' You know you are lovely,' says MoUy, in such good
faith that Cecil kisses her on the spot. ' But what if you
should fall in love with him ?'
' Perhaps I have done so long ago,' her ladyship replies,
in a tone impossible to translate, being still intent on the
contemplation of her many charms. Then, quickly : ' No,
no, Molly, I am fireproof,'
' Yet any day you may meet someone to whom you
must give your love,'
' Not a bit of it, I should despise myself for ever if I
once found myself letting my pulses beat half a second faster
for one man than for another,'
' Do you mean to tell me you have never loved ?'
' Never, never, never. And indeed, to give myself due
credit, I believe the fact that I have a husband somewhere
would utterly prevent anything of the sort,'
' That is a good thing, if the idea lasts. But won't you
feel rather awkward meeting him this evening ?'
' I ? No, but I daresay he will; and I hope so too,'
says her ladyship maliciously. ' For three long years he has
never been to see whether I were well or iU—or pining for
him,' laughing. ' And yet, Molly, I do feel nervous,
awfully, ridiculously nervous, at the bare idea of our so soon
coming face to face,'
* Is he handsome ?'
' Ye—es, pretty weU, Lanky sort of man, with a good
deal of nose, you know, and very little whisker. On my
word, now I think of it, I don't think he had any at aU,'
' Nose ?'
' No, whisker. He was clean-shaven, all but the mous¬
tache, I suppose you know he was in Ted's regiment for
some time ?'
' So he told me.'
' I wonder what it is he hasnH told you ? Shall I con¬
fess, Molly, that I know your secret, and that it was I chose
that diamond ring upon your finger ? There, do not grudge
me your confidence; I have given you mine; and anything
I have heard is safe with me. Oh, what a lovely blush, and