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primeval forests of East Lothian? I don't wonder. But you may believe me: I am the general utility man in every company. If a cobbler is wanted, I am the cob bler; if there is nobody else for the part of the primo tenore, here I am. There never was such an adaptable talent. Let us get some thing up. Bellendean would do very well for the Falkland parts, or Hastings in "She Stoops" that sort of thing, you know. Miss Sinclair is the ingénue, evidently; and I think I see beside mesaid the young man of society, turning a look of appreciation, it might be of admiration, upon the plain but sparkling and clever face of the Lowland heiress.

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"Not an actor's at all, I fear," she said; "I don't think I have any gifts that way. Put me on the stage in any dress you please, with anything to say, and the universal verdict would be, 'It is just Mary Ratho.' I know myself too well to try."

"As for that, one might say 'It is just Irving'-or still more, 'It is just Ellen Terry,'" said the amateur, with a not very successful attempt to imitate the inflection of the northern voice.

"I am afraid,” said Miss Ratho, with a slight, almost imperceptible, drawing up of her solid shoulders, the unacknowledged annoyance of a member of a rural aristocracy to have herself by any possibility compared with a professional servant of the public_“I am afraid, after all, you will be obliged to have recourse to Joyce."

Naturally, as the name had been subject to comment, and as it was said with a little malice and in an under-tone, there was at that moment a sudden pause all round the table, and the word came forth with all the more effect, softly


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And now it was that there occurred the extraordinary incident, remembered for years after, not only in Bellendean but in the greater world, which many people must have heard of, without even knowing the people concerned. There rose up suddenly by the side of Mrs Bellendean, at the other end of the company, a tall figure, which stood swaying forward a little, hands resting on the table, looking down upon the astonished faces on either side. sight of it Mrs Hayward pushed back her chair impatiently, and covered her flushed face with her hands; while every one else looked up in expectation, some amused, all astonished, awaiting some little exhibition on the part of the guileless old soldier. Norman Bellendean turned his face towards his old Colonel with a smile, but yet a little regret. The vieux moustache, out of pure goodness of heart and simplicity of mind, was sometimes a little absurd. Probably he was going once again to propose his young friend's health, to give testimony in his favour as a capital fellow. Norman held himself ready to spring up and cover the veteran's retreat, or to take upon himself the inevitable laugh. But he was no more prepared than the rest for what was coming. Colonel Hayward stood for a moment, his outline clear against the window behind him, his face indistinct against that light. He looked down the table, addressing himself to the host at the end,


who half rose to listen, with a face of severe politeness, concealing much annoyance and despite. "The old fool," Mr Bellendean was saying to himself.

"I want to say," said the Colonel, swaying forward, as if he rested on those two hands with which he leant on the table, rather than on his feet, "that a very great event has happened to me here. I came as a stranger, with no thought but to pass a few days, little thinking that I was to find what would affect all my future life. I owe it to the kindness of your house, Mr Bellendean, and all I see about me, to tell you what has happened. Her name is on all your lips," he said, looking round him with the natural eloquence of an emotion which, now that the spectators were used to this strange occurrence, could be seen in the quiver of his lips and the moisture in his eyes. "It is a name that has long been full of sweetness but also of pain to me. Now I hope it will be sweetness only. Joyce-my kind friends, that have

been so good to her when I knew nothing- nothing! How can I thank you and this dear lady-this dear lady here! Joyce-belongs to me. Joyce-is Joyce Hayward. She is my daughter. She is my my only child."

Close upon this word sounded one subdued but most audible sob from the other end of the table. It was from Mrs Hayward, who could contain herself no longer. That, at least, might have been spared her that the girl was his only child. She pushed back her chair and rose up, making a hurried movement towards the door; but fortunately Mrs Bellendean had divined and frustrated her, and in the universal stir of chairs and hum of wondering voices, Mrs Hayward's action passed unnoticed, or almost unnoticed. And she escaped while the others all gathered round the Colonel, all speaking together, congratulating, wondering. These were moments when he was very able to act for himself, and did not think at all what Elizabeth would say.



After Peter had got his dinner and had gone out again to his work, a silence fell upon the two who were left behind in the cottage. They had breathed word, nor even exchanged a glance that could have awakened his suspicions-which was easy enough, for he had no suspicions. And they had avoided each other's eyes : they had talked of nothing that contained any reference to the subject of which their hearts were full. And when they were left alone, they still said nothing to each other. Janet would have no help from Joyce in the "redding up. "Na, na," she said; "go

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away to your reading, or sew at some of your bonnie dies. This is nae wark for you."

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'Granny, I am going to help you as I have always done."

"This is nae wark for you: and I'll no' let you touch it," said the old woman, with a sudden stamp of her foot on the ground. "I'll no' let you touch it! do ye hear me, Joyce? As long as you are here, you sall just do what I say."

The girl retreated, almost overawed by the passion in the old woman's eyes; and then there was silence in the cottage, broken only by the sound of Janet's move

ments, as she cleared away everything, and moved about with her quick short step from one place to another. Joyce sat down beside the writing-table, which was her own especial domain, and the quietness of impassioned suspense fell upon the little house. The scent of the mignonette still came in through the window from the little garden behind; but the door was shut, that no cheerful interruption, no passing neighbour with friendly salutations, pausing for a minute's gossip, might disturb the breathless silence. They both expected -but knew not what: whether some fairy chariot to carry Joyce away, some long-lost relatives hurrying to take her to their arms, or some one merely coming to reveal to them who she was,-to tell her that she belonged to some great house, and was the child of some injured princess. Strangely enough, neither of them suspected the real state of affairs. Janet divined that Mrs Hayward had something to do with it, but Joyce had not even seen Mrs Hayward; and the Colonel was to her an old friend who had known and probably loved her mother-but no more. Thus they waited, not saying a word, devoured by a silent excitement, listening for some one coming, imagining steps that stopped at the door, and carriage-wheels that never came any nearer, but not communicating to each other what they thought. When Janet's clearing away was over, she still found things to do to keep her in movement. On ordinary occasions, when the work was done, she would sit down in the big chair by the window with the door open (it was natural that the door should be open at all seasons), and take up the big blue-worsted stocking which she was always

knitting for Peter. And if Joyce was busy, Janet would nod to her friends as they passed, and point with her thumb over her shoulder to show the need of quiet, which did not hinder a little subdued talk, all the more pleasant for being thus kept in check. "She's aye busy," the passers-by would say, with looks of admiring wonder. "Oh ay, she's aye busy; there was never the like of her for learning. She's just never done," the proud old woman would say, with a pretence at impatience. How proud she had been of all her nursling's wonderful ways! But now Janet could not sit down. She flung her stocking into a corner when she saw it. She could not bear to see or speak to any one: the vicinity of other people was of itself an offence to her. If only she could quench with the sound of her steps those of the messenger of fate who was coming; if only she could keep him out for ever, and defend the treasure in her house behind that closed door!

The same suppressed fever of suspense was in Joyce's mind, but in a different sense. With her all was impatience and longing. When would they come? though she knew not whom or what she looked for. When would this silence of fate be broken? The loud ticking of the clock filled the little house with a sound quite out of proportion to its importance, beating out the little lives of men with a methodical slow regularity, every minute taking so long; and the quick short steps of her old guardian never coming to an end, still bustling about when Joyce knew there was no longer anything to do, provoked her almost beyond bearing. So long as this went on, how could she hear them coming to the door?

They both started violently when

at last there fell a sharp stroke, as of the end of a whip, on the closed door. It came as suddenly, and, to their exaggerated fancy, as solemnly, as the very stroke of fate but it was only a footman from Bellendean, on horseback, with a note, which he almost flung at Janet as she opened the door, stopping Joyce, who sprang forIward to do it. "Na, you'll never open to a flunkey," cried the old woman, with a sort of desperation in her tone, pushing back the girl, whose cheeks she could see were flaming and her eyes blazing. Janet would not give up the note till she had hunted for her spectacles and put them on, and turned it over in her hand. "Oh ay, it's to you after a'," she said; "I might have kent that, and no a very ceevil direction. 'Miss Joyce,' nothing but Miss Joyce: and it's nae name when you come to think on't-no' like Marg'et or Mary. It's as if it was your last name."

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mother and who I am and whom I belong to."

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'Ay," said Janet, bitterly; "to hear when you're to drive away in your grand carridge, and leave the house that's aye been your shelter desolate; to fix the moment when them that have been father and mother to ye are to be but twa puir servant-bodies, and belang to ye nae mair!"

Granny!" cried Joyce, in consternation, drawing Janet's face towards her, stooping over the little resisting figure.

"Dinna put your airms about me. Do you ken what I'll be for you the morn?—your auld nursea puir auld body that will be nothing to you. Oh, and that's maybe just what should be for a leddy like you. You were aye a leddy from the beginning, and I might have kent if my een hadna been blinded. I aye said to Peter, 'Haud a loose grip,' but, eh! I never took it to mysel'."

"Granny," cried Joyce, "do you think if the Queen herself were my mother, if I were the Princess Royal, and everything at my beck and call,—do you think I could ever forsake you?"

"Oh, how do I ken?" cried Janet, still resisting the soft compulsion which was in Joyce's arms; "and how can I tell what ye will be let do? You will no' be your ain mistress as ye have been here. Ye will have to conform to other folks' ways. Ye will have to do. what's becoming to your rank and your place in the world. If ye think that an auld wife in Bellendean village and an auld ploughman on the laird's farm will be let come near ye

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Granny, granny!" cried Joyce, as Janet's voice, overcome by her own argument, sank into an inarticulate murmur broken by sobs, granny, granny! what have ĺ

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done to make you think I have no heart and to give me up, and refuse to stand by me even before there's a thing proved."

"Me!-refuse to stand by ye?" "That is just what you are doing or at least it is what you are saying you will do; but as you never did an unkind thing in your life

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"Oh, many a one, many a one,' cried the old woman. "I've just an unregenerate heart-but no' to my ain."

"As you never did an unkind thing in your life," cried Joyce, out of breath, for she had hurried in the meantime to the aumrythe great oak cupboard which filled one side of the room- and made a rapid raid therein. "I have brought you your bonnet and your shawl."

She proceeded to fold the big Paisley shawl as Janet wore it, with a large point descending to the hem of the old woman's gown, and to put it round her shoulders. And then the large black satin bonnet, like the hood of a small carriage, was tied over Janet's cap. It is true she wore only the cotton gown, her everyday garment, but the heavy folds of the shawl almost covered it, and Janet was thus equipped for any grandeur that might happen, and very well dressed in her own acceptation of the word. When these solemn garments were produced she struggled no more.

But though the ice was partially broken, there was very little said between them as they went up the avenue. Joyce's heart went bounding before her, forestalling the disclosure, making a hundred mad suggestions. She forgot all the circumstances, - where she was going, and even the unwilling companion by her side, who plodded along, scarcely able to keep up with her, her face altogether in

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visible within the shadow of the black satin bonnet, which stooped forward like the head of some curious uncouth flower. Poor old Janet! the girl's head was full of a romance more thrilling than any romance she had ever read; but Janet's was tragedy, far deeper, sounding every depth of despair, rising to every height of selfabnegation. And Peter! poor old Peter, who had no suspicion of anything, whom she had always adjured to keep a loose grip, and to whom "the bit lassie was as the light of his eyes. Not only her own desolation, but his also, Janet would have to bear. She had no heart to speak, but plodded along, scarcely even seeing Joyce by her side, ruminating heavily, turning over everything in her mind, with her eyes fixed upon the ground under the shadow of the black bonnet. "Oh, haud a loose grip!" she had said it to Peter, but she had not laid her own advice to heart.

There were two or three servants in the hall when Joyce went up the steps, carrying, against her will, the old woman with her, who would fain have stolen round to the servants' entrance as "mair becoming." And the butler and the footman looked very important, and were strangely respectful, having heard Colonel Hayward's oration, or such echo of it as had been wafted to the servants' hall. "This way, this way, Miss Joyce," the butler said, with a little emphasis, though he had known her all his life, and seldom used such extreme civility of address. way, Janet." They were taken across the hall, where Janet, roused visions and wondering, saw of other people glancing eagerly at Joyce, and at her own little figure, stiff as if under mail in the panoply of that great shawl-to Mrs Bellen


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