% pale hal 5 round her head when the sunHght shosw through
_" What do you mefm, my dear Mrs. Dawson P" she asked,
dipping her camel's-hair brush into the wet aquamarine upon
the palette, and poising it carefully before putting in the deli¬
cate streak of purple which was to brighten the horizon in her
" Why, 1 mean, my dear, that it only rests with yourself to
become Lady Audley, and the mistress of Audley Court,"
Lucy Graham dropped the brush upon the picture, and
flushed scarlet to the roots of her fair hair; and then grew pale
again, far paler than Mrs. Dawson had ever seen her before.
" My dear, don't agitate yourself," said the surgeon's wife,
soothingly; "you know that nobody asks you to marry Sir
Michael unless you wish. Of course it would be a magnificent
match; he has a splendid income, and is one of the most
generous of men. Your position would be very high, and you
would be enabled to do a great deal of good; but, as I said
before, you must be entirely guided by your own feeHngs.
Only one thing I must say, and that is, that if Sir Michael's
attentions are not agreeable to you, it is really scarcely honour¬
able to encourage him."
" His attentions—encourage him ! " muttered Lucy, as if the
words bewildered her. "Pray, pray don't talk to me, Mrs
Dawson. I had no idea of this. It is the last thing that
would have occurred to me." She leaned her elbows on the
drawing-board before her, and clasping her hands over her face,
seemed for some minutes to be thinking deeply. She wore a
narrow black ribbon round her neck, with a locket, or a cross,
or a miniature, perhaps, attached to it; but whatever the
trinket was, she always kept it hidden under her dress. Once
or twice, while she sat silently thinking, she removed one of her
hands from before her face, and fidgeted nervously with the rib¬
bon, clutching at it with a half-angry gesture, and twisting it
backwards and forwards between her fingers.
" I think some people are bom to be unlucky, Mrs. Dawson,'
she said, by-and-by; " it would be a great deal too much good
fbrtune for me to become Lady Audley."
She said this with so much bitterness in her tone, that the
Burgeon's wife looked up at her with surprise.
" You unlucky, my dear ! " she exclaimed. " I think you're
the last person who ought to talk like that—you, such a bright,
happy creature, that it does every one good to see you. I'm
8ure I don't know what we shall do if Sir Michael robs us oi
After this conversation they often spoke upon the snbjecti
and Lucy never again showed any emotion whatever when th«