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The Rustication of Molly


[ALL EIGHTS H-ESTSKYEPI. The Rustication of Molly BT J. DOUGALL HElD, Author of In the Grenadier Company," MabeJ Vyner's Lover," &c. "Read the letter again, mamma." Mrs. Spencer did so, the two girls listening intently. As a letter writer, Hugh Spencer was not a success, and getting at his meaning was at times rather difficult. On the present oc- casion, however, iiis mother and sisters were able to make oi that he was coming from London on a ho day visit, and intended bringing with bin, his special office chum. The latter, James Gov, „;r by name. was, to quote from Hugh's letter—" a just splendid sort, only thirty-one, and with fifteen hundred a year of his own, in addition to his salary drawn from the office," while one ni least of Hugh's rea- sons for bringing the unsuspecting Jim to Glasgow came out in the opinion that he- Jim—was "just the sort of chap for Sarah- if only Molly is kept out of the way." ? Sarah's rather pretty nose rose in the air at this point, whereat the younger girl, Anne, emiled maliciously. Mrs. Spencer read on, the writer rambling from subject to subject in his usual provoking fashion, and it was only when nearing the end. of the letter that he again touched the topic having present in- terest for his mother and sisters. "Jim gets credit for being a bit of a bear," he wrote, leliand I cau't honestly call him a ladies' man, but all the same he's a bit soft where women are concerned. I caught him with a photo of Molly the other evening, one that I had carelessly left lying about, and the look on his face gave him away. He asked who she was, jand I told him she was a girl I knew in Glas- gow. He didn't ask any more, nor, if he had, would I have told him much. I've no great liking for Miss Molly, as yon know — he had tried to make love to her and been mercilessly repelled—"and am not disposed to further her fortunes. Let her marry one of her own sort—a nobody. All the same, it will be no more than prudent to get her out of the way before we come. Send her down to Lochgoilhead. to that old housekeeper of her father's she's so fond of. An old gossip and a young flirt should make a good pair, especially at Glasgow Fair time, when the horny-handed and his womenfolk are on the rampage." So ended the reading of the letter, or at least so much of it as is needful for the de- velopment of this story. And that the coarse- ness and petty vindictiveness of it should have failed to shock Hugh Spencer's mother and sisters conveys a sufficiently accurate ethical estimate of the whole Spencer family, whose watchword, first and last, was "ap- pearances." "Then what do you propose to do,' •mamma?" asked Sarah, after a momentary silence. "I am inclined to take Hugh's advice," was the reply. "It is unfortunate that yom j brother and his friend should have taken their holiday at this time, but then office routine possibly rendered that unavoidable. j[f they had only waited until next month we could all have gone to Arran together." "Molly, too?" asked Avne, mischievously. •• "Certainly not, replied Mrs. Spencer, se- < verely. "if in the way here in Glasgow, she would have been trebly JSO Jn Arran. But we need not talk of that; what disturbs me is that I see no way of escape from this dilemma short of taking Hugh's advice, a thing in it. self distasteful." "Distasteful; in what way?" queried Anne, In surprise. t MM. Spencer looked at the speaker like one praying for patience. I "How dense you are, Anne she said. Do you not see that having a member of our family circle going on holiday—for that is what it comes to during the Fair Week re- flects to some extent, upon i\S:—just as if \v« had some connection with the working classes." "Oh," said Anne, enlightened. "But I dog not think you should let that worry you,f mamma dear. Molly is not really in our circle, you know, and I don't think her ab- sence will be even noticed." "I wish she had never come here at all- Artful little cat, put in Sarah, with a" viciousness of voice and expression infinitely more cat-like titan anything poor Molly had ever displayed in the whole nineteen years of her life." But then Sarah and Anne, al- though both were pretty in a languidly dol-| Jish way, had the tmoom fort able feeling that"' they were simply "not in it." with Molly, of^ whom both were atrociously jealous, al-f though that ugly passion fonnd by no means the same manifestations in both. Sarah, being twenty-one, and consequently f ff more directly from comparison than her tit-I teen years' old sister, took her revenge by methods of chilly condescension, veiled in- sinuation, and ceaseless fault-finding —- all conveyed in the politest terms. Sarah was nothing if not ladylike what she forgot, or; sinuation. and ceaseless fault-finding —- all n conveyed in the politest terms. Sarah was nothing if not ladylike what she forgot, or; didn't know, was that, it was better to be a lady inwardly than only like one outwardly; heart deep or fine clothes deep; that's the' lady inwardly than only like one outwardly heart deep or fine clothes deep; that's the' •difference. As for Anne, she had not yet gotj free from the torn-boy element that had dis-J tinguished her earlier years, and in her;; jealousy took the form of rudeness, often verging on brutality. Yet, unlike Sarah, she -was not altogether destitute of human feeling, and a sense of justice, for time and again] aorae impulsive act of kindness, or unex-| pected defence of the assailed Molly, brought "j a warm glow to the heart and tears to the} eyes of the forlorn orphan, making her for-j give the cruelties of weeks and months.1 Anne, in the opinion of her mother andj sister, was reprehensibly outspoken, and yet,I because of, that very quality, they were bothJ just a little afraid of her. i But to return from this necessary digres-- eion. Mrs. Spencer's agreement with Sarah'sj wish was instant and cordial, but, as she ex- plained, she was in no way to blame for Molly's appearance among them three years before. "I would have prevented it if I could," before. "I would have prevented it if I could," ,4she said, "but, as you know, your father, while generally respecting my wishes., could, he distressingly obstinate on occasion. Yourj father and hers were tw.ii.i_ brothers, andj when your uncle was on his death-bed it, was only natural, perhaps, .that he should j ask his brother to look after his motherlessj and only child. That was very proper, andj I would not' have objected had your fa.tlier been content to place her income genteel in-j #titution, or board her with, some respectable, family, instead of bringing her here. Buti he insisted, and then when lie died two years, ago it was too late to make any change; j people would have talked. Of course, as! Molly has eighty pounds a year of her own, she has put us to very little expense; still, I had rather she had not been here, or, being here, that some possible reason for sending' heir away for good would arise; J do, in-j adeed." il\.JiiÆ'VJt4ii\mJ&\q¡í'tI'it.U.tti\¥:¡'4ó.'J{''¡-Mo7! n you think some such reason fa r ire already," said Santb. with an un- smile. I believe Molly is learning u r> ly wav of finishing her et.uip- | p, r c 'position of commercial corre- ;i u <- k —or should it be clerkoss?" '1 U u c tsped Mrs. Spencer, for once st x*' Vil out" of her thousand-pounds-a-year ([lign Hy 0 „ Sarah -1 her statement, adding that < tiad heard say that she must i have something to do. | indeed, said Mrs. Spencer augrilv. \¡Velt that settles It; for on the J very <3.JST on which she attempts to obtain j such a aitnatioii, she walks out of this house. | A correspondence clJrk-a. gil, too-resi- q dent with »#—a» one of the family! The idea. jj itself > £ ats outrage. But I must attend to | some accounts that want checking. We can jj discuss this matter afterwards." i She mo red. towards a writing-table as she i spoke, and the two girls, taking the hint, j left her o therself I The arrival of Hugh a day or two later 1; hronffht something: of a shock to those await- in*- him. 'Hie cab that had trundled him with hiss and Jim Gower's luggage from the station had barely stopped at the door be-; fore it was seen that he was alone. The three women, although greatly jpurprised,; had to restrain their impatience ujn'l he had, pai<| and dismissed the cabman. Then as he] came up the steps, a stontly-bui.lt young man! of twenty--seven, with a round and rather; fl'-ibb'f face of the "knowing" type, he was with questions affecting the absent Jim.: '♦•Ob, that's al! right," he said, easily. "He haw 4one down to Lochgoilhead, but, will he with, us tbi,; evening, or, at farthest, to-morrow." began Anne, with what in a mam wafaM kavs been a shout, but what in a young lady nasi • ho called an "excitedly j musical too* Before, however, she could enlighten the neighbourhood generally, her mother had placed » restraining hand on her arm. Don"t speak hers." said Mrs. Spencer, gfamgmjr at the servants who were struggling with Hugh's boxeø-he usually had three times as many all he needed. "Come into tiito all of you." Sha led the way thither, closed the door, and then turned to Hugh. "Now, Hugh, explain," ahe said. "A few wards will do that," he returned. H "WhEtIl wo left London, Jim undertook to get ØQme important papers signed by a mer- chant is Qhugvw here. We left our traps at the statiwn and drove to this man's house, only to find that he had gone down to his villa at Liachgoilboad, Then as the matter J was urgent, Jim started for that delectable village at oace, leaving me to go back for our traps of course, make his apologies to you. Thai's all-and I'll be hanged if I can sea w-hat you've got to make a fuss about." (i "We"rO got this to make a fuss about, I said- Sarah. Acting on your adviee, we sent Molly dow» to Lochgoilhead, and she's fihere HOW." Mngh stared aghast for a moment. "What in thunder did you send her there for?- hf demanded angrily. "And what on earth does Sarah mean. by saying that you acted <m mj advice?" i "It was <oa your advice," said Mrs. bpen- car. "HPra are the very words of your letter: It will be no more than prudent to get he:r"that":a Molly—' out of the way be- fore we come. Send her down to Lochgoil- head, to that old housekeeper of her filter's that she's m fomd of.' Well, we took that advice—wiforl anately, as it now appears, and sent her down to Mrs. Lennox, with whom she is to stay for a montn or six weeks." "Yes, I remember now," said Hugh, in a tone of chaffria. "I did write that, but on my soul, I'd clean forgotten. Well, we can't do anything to mend it now, though it is con- foundedly awkward." "It is indeed awkward," assented Mrs. Spencer. "Mr. Gowcr's visit to Lochgoil- head is milj a fixing one, certainly, but the place is so small that strangers—and you say he has been impressed by her photo?' So much impressed that I believe he has it in his pockct at this minute. I missed it after one of his visits last week, and have not seen it since. If he What the deuce are yxmt laughing at?" this to Anne. I' In laughing at the lot of you," replied Anne, coollv. "Instead of sending her down to a tiny place like Lochgoilhead, where sllc'll be as kelispeckle--tli%Cs vulgar, but expressive-as kenapecklc as a white brick in a black wall, I'd have packed her off to Aunt Ella, in Perth. Safety in numbers, you know. "Spare your sarcasms, Anne," said Mrs. Spencer, sharply. Then to Hugh—"would you think of going down?" "What? after Jim?" he asked. "Yes." No; that would only make matters worse. ou see. he's a bit touchy in some ways, and if he got it into his head that I was trying shepherding tricks!—No, no; we must just wa.it till he comes up, and meanwhile hope ,tii-,tt Mrs. Lennox will keep her darling Miss Molly indoors for this one day, at least." I The hope was fervently expressed, but did 'not receive fulfilment, Mrs. Lennox from the first insisted that her young guest should 'spent as much of her time in the open air as; possible, "to bring back her roses," she said, j The only day excepted was the approaching "Glasgow" Fair Saturday, which annually lets ,loo$ø a fciubstratum— in. the moral sense—of her population of which Glasgow is in no way Iproud. On that day her kind old friend's 'wish wast that Molly should confine herself !to the cottage, or at most, its garden. But !Saturday was yet three days distant, and so [Molly set tiLit for her wonted walk immedi- ately after breakfast. She took the Hill's iGlen-road, so that when Jim Gower struck into the same road some two hours later, it f-did not seem as if any Spencerian hopes !whatever were likelv to prevent him from meeting- with MoJH— provided he kept on walking long enough. He had been up to the wood-hiddet, villa of the Glasgow merchant, fonlv to find that that gentleman was at St. I Catherines, on the other side of Hill's Glen, [and was noib expected back before three 1'o'clock in the afternoon, whereupon Jim promptly started out to view the famous glen, by way "of filling, in the intervening time. And as he pressed 011 up the mountain road, with [his tall figure and firm, easy step, his. face [did not suggest that he was grieving over his t)ulst),U stay in Lochgoilhead, due to the 'merchant's absence. So far from that., being the case,, lie had forgotten the worthy^ irari altogether, his mind being just then divided between admiration of the sqenery and [thoughts of the girl with the lovely flower j face whose photo—well, borrowed—was even bheTI in his pocket, the girl he had come to IScotland to meet, if that should be humanly possible;, and of whom he did not even know the Eusmtp The friendship so loudly trumpeted by Hugh 8peiicer had no existence so. far as Crower concamcd. He did not like the :;eo:r..K-4J-u..l;nu,<'<V" "J' Pother's horsey, doggy, and eardv ways. La/.y- toleratson was the moat he had ever ex- tended to Spencer, and but for that photo- he < would never have come north with him, r palirlotic Scot though he-Gower-was. j| And then, just when he had become, so to speak,, all photo, so far as his thoughts and longings went, he met the original Molly herself. v c Over the top of the rise in the road he was- [ ascending there suddenly appeared tiie face I of a girl, to be instantly followed by » 1 slender, graceful figure. It was the face in [ the photo, only more beautiful than any photo could have shown it. The blue eyes met his at once, and the look of mingled alarm- and relief in them startled and puzzled him j | until,, three or four paces farther bringing him to the crest of the rise, he ascertained 1 the reason. Following the frightened gi-i at I the distance of a few yards, and growling as it came, was a medium-sized dog of no deter- | minate breed, while about thirty yards j farther down the slope was hobbling forward one of those pests, half-hawker, half-mendi- j cant, that infest country roada in summer. j "What is the matter? Can I assist you?'"j asked Jim, as they met. | "What is the matter? Can I assist you ?". asked Jim, as they met. | "It's that man," she replied in shaken tones. "He was sitting by the roadside, and' as I passed, demanded money. His face j frightened me, and 1 didn't stop. Then he i called me nasty names and sent the dog after | line." I called me nasty names and sent the dog after line." I As she concluded, she glanced downward,. and, following the glance, "jim saw that her. dainty serge "skirt was torn in several places. "Ah!" was all he said, and the sudden-j darkening of his facii almost frightened the;; girl looking up at it. Then he put her gently but quickly asidj, and sprang forward with the leap of a patither, catching the still- «rowling cur such a kick under the chest thai' ft (lew T11 to the air as if it had wings. When it came down again it showed no disposition to prolong the dispute, but fled, howling, after, growti,-i- clir such a kick under the chest thai, ft dew T11 to the air as if it had wings. When it came down again it showed no disposition to prolong the dispute, but fled, howling, after, its master, who was already in retreat. Jun. glared after them for a moment or two, thei* returned to Molly. "Quite an exhilarating little adventure, that," he observed cheerfully. "Brings back one's old footballing days. And now. as I presume your home is in the neighbourhood, vou must allow me to see you there." Molly's eyes widened a little. Words and tone were direct, almost brusque, and very far removed from the style of the average society man. iet the girl instinctively felt that they were no product of rudeness, either iiiheretit or other, but were simply the out- come of a nature too strong to be in sym- pathy with the artificial and conventional. Her replv, therefore, was not the declination which maidenly impulse first suggested, but a rather shy assent. Thev turned their faces towards the village, and were presently entertaining each other with that, class of small talk which social rules impose on strangers unexpectedly thrown together. Molly, perhaps, got the larger share of the conversation; but that was because her companion was so intently watching the beautiful face beside him, and wondering why it was so sad in spite of its vivid play of expression. Another thing, too, kept him busy, and that was seeking an opportunity of letting her know who and what he was, preparatory to an attempt to solve the secret of her own identity. The chance came at length, and he was able to follow up some remark of hers with an outwardly carelems statement affecting his name, position, and a few other items he thought might be of use. Not a little to his surprise and inward delight, the sudden lifting of Molly's long lashes revealed the look of almost recogni- tion in her eyes. "You have heard of me before?" he asked, forgetting in his eagerness that he was put- ting an, in the circumstances, embarrass- ingly direct question. "Oh, \yes," replied Molly. colouring slightly under his gaze, "I have heard Hugh; Spencer speak of you." I "Then -pl",4t.se pardon the question —• are you in any way related to Hugh Spencer?" ) "I am his cousin—Mary Spencer." His cousin And he had referred to her only as "a girl he knew in Glasgow!" Jim Gower had not lived thirty-one years in the world for nothing, and began to suspect on the instant the nature of the reasons prompt- ing Hugh Spencer's very queer behaviour. Nor did he rest content with suspecting, for on reaching Rose Cottage he was easily per. suaded to enter it in compliance with the re- quest of the unaffectedly grateful Mrs. Len, nox, backed up as that was by the all uncon- scious, and alsI, all-compelling, invitation ill e, Molly's eyes. And as Mrs. Lennox was even more outspoken than he was himself, he learned much during the hours he spent in that cottage before the approach of three o'clock dragged him out of it and up the loch- I side road to the Glasgow merchant's villa. » He stayed in the hotel that, night, and in I "1C morning tried to convince himself that l it was his duty to go to Rose Cottage to in- i quire for Molly—just to assure himself that1 i she had not suffered from the fright giveii her i by the dog on the previous day. The trans- S parent hypocrisy of the thing brought a 8 twinkle to Mrs. Lellliox's eyes, and when he | finally set out to catch tiie steamer she I laughed softly. B "Eh, Miss Molly," quoth she, "it wadna I hae maittered though we hadua gi'en Maister f Gower an invite to come hack. He wad hae come without one; div.ua ve thinft | But Molly had suddenly remembered that she wanted some roses for a sick girl, and was making for the garden with a face as red as any rose therein. There was a quiet wedding at Rose Cot- tage two months afterwards. Fiery, impul- sive Aune was bridesmaid, very much to the disgust of the other members of her famnv. They would not go themselves, though in- vited, but they were utterly unable to pre- vent Anne from going, and so had to make the best of it. But when the happy pair had set out on their honeymoon trip, Anne made a queer little confession. "Do you know, Mrs. Lennox," elie said, or, I'm as glad as if as if I were as happy as Molly. 1 was jealous and ugly and wicked, but in my heart, I always liked her. HThere;" no muckle .ugliness about ye." replied Mrs. Lennox, smiling at the bright young face. "Jealousy's bad. an' so's im- kindness, but ,1:'1 for wickedness—lassie, ye're v lA honest -as davlieH, an* eouldna be really wicked if ye tru-d. Molly aye said that aboot ye, an' no* .1 ken it's true. A sudden *.>■■ ■< iu; dimmed the bright- ness of Anne's Jumping up hastily she kissed the on the forehead and went out into the gar-.l-'ti. -n_ +.

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