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THE HOUSE IX PICCADILLY. A Tale for Maidens, Wives, and Widows; and, incidentally, for Elderly (ientlcmt BY ANNIE THOMAS (MRS. PENDER CUDLIP), At THOR OF Unfulfilled," That Other Woman," The Love of a Lady," Philip Morton," &c, [ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.] CHAPTER X. GFORGIE "THHOWs HERSELF INTO THE BREACH." MRS. RUPERT KXIGHTLY kept Floy with her for some days after Gussie had become Lady Tolle- mache. She judged it best to do so for severa reasons. One was, that in the companionship of herself and Tiny Jiraybrooke-who had also remained on a visit—Floy would not have so much time for cultivating grief. Another was, that until she herself had found an opportunity of talk- ing privately to Mrs. Knightly, and trying to make matters more harmoniously in the Piccadilly household. Floy was best away from her mother. So one morning, after seeing them quietly settled, Tiny at something that she called work, and Floy in an easy chair, with a book that she could not read, Mrs. Kupert Knightly got into her little pony phaeton, and drove herself over to see Ikupevt's mother. Before starting, she made this resolution and she kept it too-that let Mrs. Knightly, senior, say what she would, she would not lose her temper and that nothing should tempt her to say anything that might cause Mrs. Knightly, senior, to lose her temper. Mrs. Knightly was suffering from a soft and gentle attack of low spirits and sulks, when ( eorgie, with a fearless step, and a bright cordial greeting, entered the pretty pale- green octagon room, which had witnessed the dis- closure of those plans which had spread dismay through the Knightly family. So when Georgie bent over and kissed her, she was only allowed to touch a very small and cold portion of her cheek. She looked upon Geo gie as a rebel, and wished to punish her only she didn't know how it could be done. Now positive incivility would not have checked Mrs. Kupert Knightly in the good work she had felt it to be her mission to undertake therefore coolness had just no effect whatever upon her Mrs. Knightly would have been a stony-hearted woman, which she was not, if she had been capable of resisting the geniality and affection of Georgie's manner, as the latter took off her bonnet and mantle, and seated herself on a low chair, by the side of the little couch on which Mrs. Knightly reclined. 1 have come over to talk to you about a great many things," she began, frankly but, first of all, dear Mrs. Knightly, I must tell you that Gussie went away very sad indeed in con- sequence of your refusal. No, no, not because you wouldn't give her the- money but because you refused to see and be friendly with Frank, with whom you've been friendly so long, you know, and because you wouldn't be at her wedding. I cheered her up as well as I could, by telling her you'd soon write, as I'm sure you will, nnd make good my words." Mrs. Knightly would have answered angrily here, but she could not, for her hand was taken and kissed. Pefore she could frame another sort of answer, her daughter-in-law went on: "And I can't have you staying away from us- from our house—in this way. It can't be, you know; my own dear Rupert's mother not friendly with me That must not be. Say you will come, and soon." Mrs. Knightly murmured a faint assent. Now I'm coming to the point," Georgie con- tinued, waxing hot in spite of herself, and feeling a fine well grown bullet rolling about in her throat as she spoke ''the point which has in a measure created this unhappy est> angement between you and your children. No. dear, dearest Mrs. Knightly—don't speak yet, please; but let me go on, while I can. Hupert-all of them, in fact- are too proud to speak and plead as I am going to. I think them wrong in that respect. But first, before I go any further, you must give me a forgive- ness beforehand, because I'm going to speak of a subject you may not. like to have spoken about— the marriage with Colonel Crofton you have con- templated. Mrs. Knightly stooped and kissed Georgie's forehead; and, happy omen, there were tears, not of anger, in her eyes. It is you, not the property, they all care for so much," George continued, speaking spasmodically, in spite of herself, "you believe that, don't you? 'J hey can none of them endure that their mother should bear another name. Still comparatively young as you are and pretty as you are—it is only natural that your hand and heart should be sought by many. I dare say," she continued, smiting, Colonel Crofton is not singular in his desire to possess himself of both." Georgie was using the right weapons; Mrs. Knightly was giving way fast. Georgie read that she was, in the deepening expression of gr avity on her face, in the drying up of her tears and, more than all. in the firmer grasp impressed upon her own hand. It was only natural, too, that yon atfirfit should be undecided as to whether you should pledge him your hand. As to giving him your heart, I am sure—we are all sure—you have not done, and you never will do it." "You are quite right, quite right, my dear," sobbed the completely routed lady. Oh if you had only said this to me before.' But it is not too late now, dear mother," inter- posed Georgie, fondly; thel-e is no feeling in farour of Colonel Crofton to combat, is there ?" None whatever, my dear," simply replied Mrs. Knightly. Then now I may tell you something else," said Georgie and that is, that Florence has lost her heart to Colonel Crofton and though we none of us like him very well, yet— and I know so well how desirous you are of doing everything to make your children happy, if they II only let you know how it's to be done you had better for her hake give her a fortune large enough to induce him to propose to her What do you think?" And then for upwards of an hour. Mrs. Knightly and her daughter-in-law amicably discussed various plans for bringing about such a desirable consummation as Floy's being united to Colonel Crofton. It was finally decided—subject to Rupert's approval—that Mrs. Knightly should inform Colonel Crofton by word of mouth, of her change of sentiment that she should at the same time tell him the amount of money she intended at once settling upon her daughters, both of them; for one or two of Georgie s disclosures hnd sent Frank Tollemaehe disinterested, unselfish Frank —up in her estimation again. They must trust, then, to his feeling of honour for everything to come right, as he could not but be aware of the havoc he had made in poor Floy s heart, And now," said Georgie, springing to her feet when these imporiant a'rangements had been made, do let me take you for a drive in my new pony-carriage; you haven t seen it yet. Rupert gave it to me only yesterday and 1 think you'll Bay it's far prettier than Mrs. Vining's, that we've all thought perfection till now." Mrs. Knightly had never bestowed a single thought upon Mrs. Vining's pony-phaeton; but she did not say so. She contented herself with raptu- rously praising everything—Georgie's driving, the carriage, the ponies, the harness, everything about it, when she was at last comfortably seated in it, in a more than usually becoming bonnet, and with one of the handsomest Cashmeres over her shoulders that had ever caused the eyes of a Frenchwoman to glisten, and her heart to ache, for the possession of just such another. Bo they rolled comfortably through Regent- street, and Georgie was patience itself as regards shopping. Mrs. Knightly made a colossal selec- tion of flowers at Covent Garden, and of dresses at Swan and Edgar's, and directed them to be packed there and sent to her daughter, Lady Tollemache. And she purchased expensive gifts for the daughter in-law who was by her side, as well as for the one Gerald was going to give her, and whom she had only seen in the course of one stiff morning call. But it was upon Floy es- pecially—upon poor Floy, whom she blushed hotly to think of as having suffered through her in any way, that she lavished the largest amount of presents. Nothing was too rich, beautiful, and costly for the mother's heart to offer to Floy. CHAPTER XI. SETTLING DOWN. A FEW months have passed over their heads since that drive behind the new ponies, when I bring the Knightly family before the reader for the last time. It is the close of an early spring even- ing, and there is that air of lassitude over the three ladies who are sitting in the little green room, which shows that one great excitement is over and another is yet to come on. Mrs. Knightly, Lady Tollemaehe, and Mrs. Rupert Knightly were rest- ing a while after the fatigues of the wedding- breakfast, before they dressed for the grand ball Mrs. Kupert gave on the occasion of the marriage of her sister and brother-in-law, in her new house. Yes; hers it was now. Mrs. Knightly, senior,had delighted in sacrifices and peace-offerings from the time (-eorgie had risked angering her by telling her what she o. ght to do She had lost no time in making over to all her children that which should have been theirs before. She had prayed !'np rt and Geoigie to lne when in town at the old family maiisi.iti in Piccadilly, though when it came to the pom! they won d both rather have stayed in t e house wlieio they had made their first start in married Iile. And now she was going to divide her time equally between her three children who wera married and settled in England. It had all come round as (ieorgie had said it would. Possibly she have given Colonel Crofton a hint as to the course it would best, become him to pursue. At any rate, as soon as he was given to understand that Mrs. Knightly had definitely altered her mind, he recommenced shining on licences horizon again. And Flov. who had faded and withered when he had with- drawn what was more than the sun to her, bloomed freshly as of yore ere very long. She was solemnly betrothed to him soon—as soon as he was quite clear what she was to have and then her worship ping love for him was such, that though they all marvelled at it. they had none of them the heart to tell her how really cold and calculating was this man who she adored. Gerald and Florence were married on the same day from the house in Piccadilly; for Tiny had no mother and no female relative; and Gerald who was deserving of ten times as much love and devotion as Colonel Crofton, had not such a wealth of it lavished upon him by his young bride as had that gallant officer. The Croftons were to reside abroad and though he had given some sort of promise to her mother not to play, it was to the orange-groves of Baden-Baden that he took his wife and there they remain, in spite of the frequent invitations they receive from mother, brothers, and sisters in England. Once, on the occasion of the christening of the little heir of the Tolleniaches, Florence ex- pressed a wish to see them all, but on her husband's replying, Well, my dear, and as I don't care about it, you can go and have that pleasure, and stav as long as you like, and I'll remain here;" on his replying in this way she crushed the wish out of her heart: for rather than leave him for one day she would submit to never seeing any of those well-loved ones at home again. It is her vocation to adore her husband, and nobly she fulfils it. Her idol has never been shaken on its pedestal yet, and never will be shaken though no idol of clay or gold could receive such loving worship more coolly than he does. He is an indifferent, not a negligent or unkind husband. He is always polite, and calmly affe-stionate to her and though her warm heart yearns u for more in her deep love and reverence for him, she 18 humbly grateful and thankful for so much. lie likes his golden-haired, dark-eyed wife to be courted and admired- within bounds; and he makes her diess richly, to set off her beauty and he takes care that she shall have plenty of amuse- ment and that her amusements do not interfere with his. And here his interest in her ceases. And she—well, her one prayer is that she may not for one hour survive this man Florence Crofton was a woman to be one of two things there could be no medium a tyrant or a slave. she is far happier as she is, than if fate had made her the former. Lady Tollemaehe and Georgie, both happy wives, with loving husbands ever anxious to please and make them ha] py, sigh and shake their heads as they think of the state of bondage poor Floy must be in, when she can t even come to see them and Tiny, who rules < erald absolutely, but so grace- fully that he doesn t know it, looks upon her as little better than an idiot for ever Caring about that horrid man: for Colonel Crofton was the one member of the family into which she had entered whom Tiny could not take into her large warm heart. Indeed, she had honoured Colonel Crofton with her profound, unconcealed, and hearty dis- like and he had been rather favourably disposed towards her for it than otherwise. He surely had something of the spaniel and the walnut tree in his nature. Kupert Knightly is entitled to write M.P. after his name now; and he is the master of Warming- ston Hall, and of the Warmingston fox-hounds. He distinguishes himself rather more in the latter capacity than he does in the house for up to the present time he has shown that he considers silence to be the better part. Cerald is in the Guards, though Tiny gave up the point so magnanimously. Mrs. Knightly—rather prettier and more bloom- ing in her grand maternal character than she was kefore—is far happier than when she had too Such power in her hands. They would perhaps be the happiest family in the world, were it not for their occasional sad thoughts of Floy, who con- siders herself the favoured by fate of the Knightly race. THE END.


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