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fOETS CORNER.

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--------FUN AND FANCY.

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back here I want you to treat me as your I sister. If I ain good enough to be Harry's wife, I am good enough to be your sister." In an instant all the delight and happiness which had crowded Evelyn Wvnch's heart wis blotted out. She saw before her difficulties which she had never realised till now. She saw, too, the impossibility of ever shaping this woman to play a real part in the drama of her life. Lady Evelyn lacked that depth of sympathy which brought to Ellen the pathetic side of Miriam's character. She only realised those things which were so obvious; she only saw the ugly; and there was coldness in her voice as she answered Miriam: "I think you are making a mistake. You— must not expect too much. and you are quite wrong to imagine that Miss Milner stands be- tween us; on the contrary. If you are gJlld to Me me here, then you ought to bo grateful to Ellen, for it is very largely through her that this has come about." Miriam caught her breath, and her heart beat wildly As Lady Evelyn turned away from her. as she heard that cold, haughty voice she shivered. "Oh! don't be angry, if you could only know what it means to me to have you hfOa.r! If you only kneiv how—how miserable I have been!" She'drew a little neareT, nnd she stretched out her hands. "Dcaau forgive me, and give me a kiss," she said, hoarsely. Lady Evelyn put, her hand to her forehead. "I am *erv tired," she said, wearily. "Of course—of course, I forgive you. I don't want to quarrel." "Then kite mf," said Miriam, her voice still a littlo hoars*. "Kiss mc a* you ki.ssed lior on the stairs just how. I—I MW von. Why should she have your lovo and your kisses &ó\d I get nothing?" It was a new situation for Lady Eveiyr, and it roused in her a sense of anger which was not normal with her: but to cut short a painful scene she played a part. "I beg of you not to think foolish things," she said, trying to speak lightly, ".[—there is nothing to be jealous about in my friendship for Miss Milner It does not affect my feeiing for you. How could it,? If I did not wish to lie friends with you, Miriam, it is hardly likely that I should have been so eager to come back here. This—this excitement will do you no good." Lady Evelyn added, "I think you ought to go to bed; let us say 'good-night. She went forward and held out her hand, but she made no effort to kiss Miriam, and the other woman stared at her for an instant, and then turning sharply on her heel, roughly, almost wildly, she raJI out of the room, and as she went she banged the door violently after her. Lady Evelyn stood a moment and i/rembled just a little (for in truth there had been some- thing savage about Miriam's expression); then with a little sigh she crossed the room and turned the key in the lock. "Perhaps, after all," she said to herself, slowly, "mother was right, and it would have been better not to have come here." CHAPTER XVIII. Back in London, Richard Varley plunged himself into the arrears of his work. He was kept very late at his office, but he was rather glad of the extraordinary stress of business, since it prevented the possibility of too much thought, and there was one subject of thought which had grown to be both a delight and a trouble to him. It might be truthfully said that there was scarcely an hour of the day in which Richard Varley did not ponder the subject of Ellen Milner. Each time t-hat he saw her she grew dearer and sweeter to him. He had charg- ed himself with very delicately instituting cer- tain inquiries about her family, for though he now recognised to the full how valuable her services were at Wynche, he yet never ceased to deprecate the necessity for the girl to accept such a position as she now held. Somehow, it was a happiness to him to feel that he might in this far-off way take upon himself the duties which her father would have done. The thought of her father indeed mingled very closely with 1 this thought of Ellen. He had been irresistibly drawn to Sir Patrick, and had rendered full homage to the charm of Ellen's father. He recognised in Ellen herself this same charm, but he found in her qualities which, he could shrewedly guess, had been lacking in Sir Pat- rick. That brief interview with Walter Bar- neith had left Varley uneasy, he had taken the measure of the other man very shrewdly. and ho had eummed him up as pre-eminently undesirable. That such a man would do his best to worry Ellen was a pretty sure fact. He only hoped that she would at all times confide in him when any such difficulty as this should arise. As a matter of fact, one morning about a week after the Dowager Lady Norchester and lxer daughter had gone to Wynche, Varley's clerk, brought him the information that a young lady wished to speak to him. "A young lady!" said Varloy. and be frown- ed sharply. "Ask her name;" but as the clerk was leaving the room he stopped him. "No, never mind—show her up." He was standing with out-stretched hand when Ellen was announced. "I guessed it was you," he said; "some tn- stinct, I suppose, must have told me that you were here." Then he queried quickly: "What has brought you to London? Is anything wrong? When did you come?" "I left early this morning. Nothing is wrong. I am here on a personal matter," Ellen said. "I—I do not know how to act in a certain diffi- culty, and I thought I would ask your advice." Sit down," said Varley, and he pushed for- ward the one comfortable in the room. Then he laughed "Don't look: round every- thing is dusty and dirty, we are too busy here to keep up a reputation for neatness." He spoke almost gaily, in fact, his pulses were thrilling at sight of her. He was thinking how -veet the girl looked. It was a hot day, and Ellen had put on a white gown. She wore a black hat, and she had on a black belt round her slim waist. These and other little touches denoted the mourning that she always wore, but though she was so plainly and so simply dressed shje was very lovely. Her stay at Wynche had brought back the colour to her cheeks; under her bather beautiful hair gleamed like gold; she had grown from a girl into a young woman. There was a certain gravity in her de- meanour, which gave her the suggestion of be- ing older than she was. "Do you know, I believe I can guess why you have come," said Varley. "It is about your cousin, Mr Barneith, isn't it?" Ellen nodded her head with a look of surprise, and asked: "How did you guess?" "Well, I am a. little quick at reading char- acter, and Mr. Barneith is not a difficult pro- blem to solve. What does he want 1" "He wants two things," said Ellen; "money and a wife; and he expects me to provide him with both." Quite involuntarily Varley bit his lip, and his hands lying on his knee clenched themselves to- gether for an instant: then he said "He is modest! On what ground does he ask you for money ?" "He wishes to live," said Ellen, "and for some strange reason he seems to fancy I can help him." Richard Varley laughed, then he leant for- ward. "Has he seriously proposed marriage to you?" There was just a. little gleam of amusement in Ellen's eyes. "Yes," she said, "it is too ridiculous, isn't it?" If Varley had spoken the words which trem- bled on his lips they would have been of a very different significance. For an instant he I did not answer Ellen, then he said: "What do you wish to do?" Ellen's smile faded, and her eyes looked trou- bled. "I don't know wha.t to do," the said. "I don't want to be bard; I know Walter has had a great deal that is depressing avd trying in his life, and I can't forget that his motnei^was mv own mother's sister; but my own position does not permit me to do very much for him." "Miss Milner," said Varley, "you must put out of your mind once for all any suggestion of giving your cousin any material help. In the first place he is a. man, he must work for him- self in the second there are various reasons for declining to-assist him." Ellen nodded her head. She sat looking thoughtfully out of the window for a moment, then she said, with a little colour in her cheeks: "I have grown to regard you as a person who can smooth out most troubles," she said, "and I that is really what brought me to you to-day, but after all, I have no right to expect you to be bothered with my small affairs." There was restraint in Varley's manner as be answered: "I feel honoured and glad that you have come to me. What have you in your mind?" "I wondered,"»eaid Ellen, "if you could know of any sort of post which Walter could fill. I don't really know what he is capable of doing; but I fancy that he has ha.d a. fair education and perhaps if he had a chance She paused. "I will do my best," said Varley, with his ready and delightful smile. "I don't say that I shall succeed, because it is not easy to find lucrative posts for young men of Mr. Barneith's stamp; but I will try;" then he spoke about herself. "You know every now and then," he said, "I continue to reproach myself for having sent you to Wynche. I must once again entreat you to promise that if you at any time find the position very trying, you will let me know at once. You have been most successful, but your success has not been brought about easily." "Since Lady Evelyn has come," Ellen said, "everything is so very different for me; al- though," she said this reluctantly, "although I am afraid that Lady Norchester is just a lit- tle bit inclined to be jealous of our friendship; at least that first night of Lady Evelyn's arrival, she certainly showed signs of objecting to any- thing like intimacy between Lacly Evelyn arid myself. During this last week, however, since she has been permitted to take her share in I nursing her husband, things have been alto- gether better." "I am told that Harry is mending rapidly," Varley said, and then he laughed. "It was A clever move on his part, for now whatever hap- pens in the future he has broken down the high- est and the strongest barrier. He has brought his mother to Wynche; he has forced her to receive his wife; I feel less nervous for the future." "Miriam and Lady Norohpster meet rarely," Ellen said; "and to tell you the Irut' Mr. Varley, there are moments when I »ro j awfmly anxious. Miriam's temper ia her one I great danger. You soe she really has no con- fidence, no belief in any living creature." ¡ "Surely she does not doubt you?" "Oh! yes, she doubts me, she is always a little suspicious of me. I have done my best to let her feel that I am absolutely loyal to her, and that my only aim in remaining at Wynche is to be of real service to her; but sometimes Ellen did not finish her speech—she rose. "I am afraid I have taken up too much of your time, Mr. Varley," she said, "I must go." "Are you returning at once?" She shook her head. "No; I want to see Mrs. Chadwick, and I want if I can to -0 down to my own hoIT.c, it is a long time since I saw my father's grave. I asked Lady Norchester's permission to have this day to myself, and she very kindly gave it to me." "It is a long and trying journey," said Varley "I wonder—I wonder if you would let me corne with you? I-I don't exactly like to think o" you travelling about the country by yourself." Sho laughed a little at this.. "Oh! but you know, Mr. Varley, I a.on a very independent person, and I have to take care of myself." She stretched out her hand. "I don't think I shall let you come," she said. "I am not afraid of being alone." Richard Varley took her hand in both of his tenderly and then the passion in his heart found expression in words, almost unconsciously. "Only to sorve you," he said, "Only to do some little thing," he broke off, and with a great effort restrained himself; then he said: "Shall I take you downstairs, have you got a cab? I think you had better have a cab," he added. He had reverted entirely to his old easy man- ner, and with a sigh of relief Ellen followed suit. "I walked here," she said. "I a.m not afraid of walking." "No. but you have so much to do to-day. Mrs. Chadwick ought to take you out, and give you somn lunch." As they stood in the door- way whilst ho whistled for a cab, he said: "I supper you havon't soon Harry yet?" EJI en ebo"k head. "No. I—I tuc afraid I am a little nervous of seeing him." "Are you, why?" "I am afraid he must hare resented my very frank criticism." said Varley, "frank criticism is just what Harry needs." He put carefully in the cab, and held out his hand a little nervously; but Ellen slip- ped hora into it, and looked liim franklv in the eyes. "It was very good of you to wish to come with me. Mr a Vrley," she said. "Please don't think it unkind of me if I don't accept your offer. I hope I shall see you again very soon. When are vou coming to Wynche?" "I shall be down in a day or two. Good-bye don't get tired; remember you have & long way to go." She smiled at him, and as the cab moved away she realised that she was sorry to leave him. In this. moment, she realised more than this, she knew that Richard Varley stood in her life now for something that was both strong and dear. She was deeply grateful to him for his consideration and his tender thought, and the knowledge that he loved her moved her deeply. Further than this she would not let herself go; it would be a matter over which she would ponder for many a. day. She paid a flying visit to Mrs. Chadwick, and then took herself out to the old places and went on her pilgrimage to her father's grave. She had shrouded her face with a thick veil, and she avoided going through the village or even to t he Rectory. She did not want to be recognised. Though she was brave and strong yet this iourney exhausted her. When she was in the train travelling back to Wynche she could do nothing but lie back in the carriage, and try to get some rest for her aching head, some solace for her aching heart. When she alighted on the platform of the small station, to her surprise she was greeted by Lady Evelyn. "We were getting so anxious," Lady Evelyn explained. "I have met three trains already and oh Ellen, dear, you look so ill! Fortu- nately I came in the motor, and we shall be home directly." The tears which Ellen had kept back so stren- uously all the day flowed freely now. It was so sweet to lie back in the motor and have her hands held in Evelyn's, so sweet to feel that there was some ono full of anxious thought for her. Truly if she had lost so much, much had also been given to her. Lady Evelyn whispered ail the news of the day. "Our great excitement has been Harry's com- ing down. He suddenly appeared, said he wa-s quite all right; he even took his arm out of the sling. Of course mother was terribly anxious, but I do really think he is ever so much better,' Ellen." "I am glad," said Ellen, in a low voice. Then she asked for Miriam. In the dusk Evelyn's face could not be seen, but there was an ominous hesitation before she answered • "I am sorry you were not there to-day," she said. "tbing3-things have not gone very well. Mother, of course, will never understand Miriam; but you are not goine: to be worried to-night, darling," Evelyn added quickly. "I am going to take you upstairs, and put you to bed myself. I have had my orders," she added with a little laugh, and then she explained fur- ther. "I had a teleeram this afternoon from Dick. He told me that you were going to your old Jo and that he was afraid you would be very tired, and he hoped that I would look after you." I Ellen said nothing, for it was not easy to I speak, and in a. little while the motor had stooped and she was back at Wynche. I The big doors were flung open widely, and the servants came hurrying forward. Some one else came towards the door. Evelyn ad- dressed this somebody by name. "Here she is, Harry, back again safe and sound; at least she is back again, but I am afraid she is not very sound, because she is fearfully tired. Lord Norchester held out his hand. "I am very glad to see you, Miss Milner," he said. "My sister has been in a kind of a fever; she thought you were lost altogether when you disappeared this morning. I hope you are not really very tired," Norchester added. "I was very tired," Ellen answered, "but now—now I am better." She spoke with some confusion, and she was conscious also of another feeling, a touch of contrition. She was so sorry she had spoken those harsh words; now that she was face to face with him she felt again tha.t charm of his personality, which she had realised so surely the first time they had met. He looked so young, he had such sweetness in his smile, euch delightful eyes. It was hard to reconcile this vision of youth with all the complications, the difficulties and the misunderstandings which his marriage signified. "I am going to take her straight upstairs," said Lady Evelyn, "and I am going to make her go to bed." But her brother contradicted this. "I want Miss Milner to come downstairs again," he said. "We are going to have dinner together, and after dinner I want some music. A little bird has told me that Miss Milner Bings like an angel." "Harry, dear," said Lady Evelyn, "you mustn't ask for musio to-night." "Mustn't I?" queried the young man, but he did not look at his sister, he looked at Ellen. And with that hot colour in her cheeks, Ellen answerod: "I shall be delighted to sing if you wish it. Lord Norchester." As the two girls went upstairs Lord Nor- chester stood and looked after them. There was a little frown on his face, he was frowning at himself. "I say. that sounded as if I had given her an order," he mused. "What rot! as if I should order her about. I leave that sort of thing to Miriam." The pleasant expression which had lit up his face when he had been speaking to Ellen faded away, and a moody troubled one came in its place. Despite Lady Evelyn's protestations, Ellen in- sisted upon dressing and going down to dinner. Before doing this, however, she made her way to Miriam's room. At the first glance she realised that Lady Evelyn had not given her the full truth. Miriam was at her very worst. She looked sullen and untidy. Her eyes were red, she was crouching up on a sofa, and did not move as the girl entered. "I hope you have not wanted me," Ellen said. "I am so sorry to have been away so long. I had to wait about so much for trains." "I haven't missed you," said Miriam, "and I don't want you," she added. As Ellen re- mained standing near her, she added: "I tell you I don't want you." "I am sorry," Ellen paused a moment, then said very gently: "I came hoping that you would want me. I was so eager to tell you how glad I am to know that Lord Norchester is so much better. He is dining downstairs; what gown are you going to wear?" "I am not coming down," said Miriam. Ellen's lips trembled. "Dear Lady Norchester," she said. "Don't be cross with me." Miriam flounced round from the sofa to her feet. and faced Ellen. "Go out of this room," she said, "unless you want me to tell you things you won't care to hear." Ellen's heart sank. "If I go out of this room," she said, "that means that you are sending me away alto- gether." But Miriam laughed a harsh laugh. "Oh, no, it doesn't, and you know that very well. "You've got them all. I'm not the per- son in authority; and if yon do go away from here you'll take Evelyn with you." A sigh broke from Ellen's lips. She had had a very trying, a very sad day, she was not 80 strong as she usually was. Tears rushed down her cheeks, she turned to go, but Miriam seiz- ed her by the arm. "What are you crying for?" she asked. "I am crying because you are so very unkind, and unjust, too." cry on, then," said Miriam, "and then p,-o down and show your eyes to the others. They'll kiss the tears away." I "Dear Lady Norchester," she said, "you are paying very wronp things; you know why I left you to-day. I-I went to see my nrave. Oh! if- was not a H'fY happy visit, and I was so glad to get back here. I have been so rlad i'or mauj things OH your account this we-ekt". 1 "You have been to see your father's grave," she said, "what luck for you! My father will never dIe. It is no use your saymg, 'Hush,' sho added, passionately. "If it's wicked, I don't care. We have had a big scene to-day, Hiirry and me; all about my wretched father. Harry thinks that I keep him here. Why, I'd give everything I've got in the world if only go away It's cruel to me to have him hprl\ my very gates, drinking and disgracing ine." "1 wonder if I can help you," said Ellen. "Dear Lady Norchester, do dress and come downstairs, and to-night after dinner you shall tell me just what you think can be arranged, and I will see what I can do." Miriam looked at her keenly. "Yes, you're clever enough," she said "Per- haps you could do something; but I don't want to come downstairs. It's all w stiff and stuck i up, and I'm sure to make mistakes, and then TTarry will look wretched, and the servants will laugn." "Nothing of the sort will happen," said El- len, ",y01\ only imagme that you make mis- takes. No one can look more beautiful than you, and I want Lord Norchcster to see you looking your very bed. This is a. great occasion, you know—you must do honour to it." And once again her influence had sway. To- gether the maid and she dressed Miria.m. The masses of wonderful hair were picturesquely arranged, and Ellen chose this time a black dinner gown. In the gleaming sheath-like folds of this gown Miriam's figure looked superb, and Ellen pinned a cluster of dark red roses in the front of the corsage, and then on impulse put a cluster also at the side of Miriam's head. "You are beautiful," she said. "Come and look at yourself." She led her to the long giass, and with a laugh Miriam glanced a.t her reflection, and then turned away. As Ellen followed her into the sitting room, there was a little knock at the door, and almost immediately Lord Norchestor entered. "J came to bring you this old comb, Minam," he said. "I picked it up in Normandy It struck me you would like it, and I think it will suit you." Ellen's heart was beating aimost wildly There was something extremely pathetic to her in the way in which Miriam looked at her hus- band, in the eager way in which her hands went out to receive his gift. "Let me put it in your hair now, Lady Nor- chester," she said. "It will go splendidly" She pushed Miria.m down into a chair, gently and deftly she put the quaint old comb into the dark wavy hair. "Oh, it is lovely!" she said. "What a charm- ine thing! Lord Norchester, don't you think it looks lovely?" "Yes, quite lovely," saia Ncrchestcr in a low voice. Miriam had risen, and was looking at her- self in the mirror over the mantelpiece, but as he said this the young man was n >t looking at the comb in his wife's hair, he was looking instead at Ellen Milner. (To be continued.)