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before I am twenty-one. Odd, isn't it, Uncle Hugh ”-she always called Colonel Leonard, Uncle, although he was no kin of hers—“that there is no medium in our family between extreme seriousness and extreme frivolity ?"
She had just returned from a round of visiting among her English relatives, with a scornful and amused wonder over their indefatigable pursuit of amusement. She lived every hour of her life, and she could not imagine any one having the necessity for killing time. For her the happy days were all too short.
The Colonel smiled.
“I don't ask you to have Lady Sylvia Hilton, Anne,” he said; Lady Sylvia was a widowed sister of the late Lady Shandon. “Gad, how she would—wake us up!”
He had been going to say something stronger, but had made the harmless substitution just in time.
Lady Anne went her own way. By this time she knew the needs of the tenants as well as her father before her, and she was more modern than he in her ideas of what the needs demanded. She bided her time, saying nothing. It would be time enough when she was twenty-one to talk about the things she was powerless to do till then.
At last the fateful day arrived. There was to be a dinner to the tenants, a dance for the servants, and many other fine doings. The house was crammed with the English friends and connections, half of whom turned night into day with bridge, while the other half read The Christian and turned up their eyes at the wickedness of the world.
“My dear Anne,” Colonel Leonard said, with an affectionate hand on his ward's shoulder. He had done what he called "giving an account of their stewardship” for himself and Mr. Osborne, who was a tongue-tied person in matters of business. “My dear Anne, you are now free and your own mistress by law. But I may say that you may count on Osborne and myself, in the future as in the past, to do all we can to help you in the difficult position in which you find yourself. You have succeeded to a big property and a big responsibility, too big I may say for a girl like yourself to support unaided. But your father's old friends will not fail you. My dear child, you must let us bear this burden for you till, in the most natural way, it devolves on your husband."
The Colonel paused for breath. Before he could go on again Lady Anne spoke quietly.
“Thank you very much, Uncle Hugh,” she said. “Of course I know that you would do anything for me. But I have been preparing myself all these years to do what I know papa wished, that is to manage the estate myself. I shall not even have an agent. A steward, perhaps, but not an agent. I do not intend that any one shall come between the tenants : and myself. To-morrow I will look into those leases—”.
“Good Lord !” gasped the Colonel. “Good Lord! You'll come a cropper, young lady, I tell you; you'll come a cropper !”
“You dear!” she said, jumping up and kissing him on top of his bald head. “I can never thank you enough, you and Mr. Osborne, for having taken such care of things for me. If I ever needed advice of course I should come to you, but I warn you frankly that I do not anticipate that I shall need advice."
“Good Lord!” said the Colonel to himself. “Good Lord If it had been a lad now! If it had been a lad!”
MISS 'STASIA. • There is a certain Dublin street which lies on a hilltop, surrounded by other streets, into which the dry rot has been eating for many a year past. This has not yet suffered the degradation of many of the others, which have fallen into disrepute as streets of tenement houses, but it has a dreadful melancholy by the side of which their squalid over-crowding is cheerful. The houses were houses of the nobility and gentry in the latter half of the eighteenth century. They were built over what once were cherry and apple orchards. The rooms are. lofty and spacious, decorated with Italian stuccowork; they have doors of wine-red Spanish mahogany, and fine marble mantel-pieces, although where they have become tenement houses the enterprising builder has in most cases torn out the mantel-pieces, and replaced them by something commoner.
Wharton Street is off the beaten track, runs away from the main thoroughfare, where the electric trams climb and descend
the hill. It connects two streets with an unnecessary connection, since you may take the high road a few steps further and make the connection more cheerfully. I doubt that any. body ever saves those few steps by turning up Wharton Street. There is something deadly to the spirits in its black housefronts. Its one solitary bit of renown is that a political murder took place some thirty years ago in a low archway in the middle of the street. For the rest the lower windows are screened from the public gaze by short wire blinds which go half-way up. The upper windows have curtains of red mo. reen, with the cheapest Nottingham white ones to indicate the drawing-room. One wonders how in this city of few manufactures, with the fields not half a mile away, the house-fronts could have become so black. The imaginative person passes Wnarton Street with a shudder, thinking that a life within its precincts would be a living death.
Every house in the street lets lodgings, and the lodgers are all old ladies. They have seen better days. They hold aloof from each other as a rule in a proud isolation, wrapping them. selves about in their memories of past glories. It is a sort of Béguinage for the widows and maiden sisters and maiden aunts of the Irish land owners, whose provision for these helpless ones, which they thought as solid as the solid earth, went down in the wild storm of the early eighties.
At the very top of the dreariest, grimiest, blackest house of them all lived the Honorable Anastasia de Courcy L'Estrange Chevenix, Lord Shandon's cousin, seven times removed.
She was the greatest hermit of all the old ladies, never went out to tea with any of the others, not even to Mrs. Montmorenzy De Renzy on the drawing-room floor, nor to the Misses Burke Vandaleur on the third floor. For one thing, she could not have afforded to return the hospitality, and that was a thing she could not have borne. The old ladies expected a return of hospitality too. For another thing, she was desperately shy and sensitive. For yet another, she had a gnawing wolf at her vitals in her fear that as she grew older the tiny annuity she had saved out of the debacle would be insufficient to keep her. As it was she starved, inasmuch as she never had enough to eat. She would have literally starved if it had not been for the landlady, Mrs. Cronin, who had been kitchen-maid to Miss Chevenix's brother, Lord Moneymore, in the great days, and now reared a large family, somewhere in the basement of the house, of discreet children, who from their earliest months learned to be quiet and demure so as not to disturb the old ladies.
· Mrs. Cronin sent up many a little dainty to Miss Chevenix's table which the tiny sum the lady paid for board did not warrant. Sometimes Miss Chevenix had compunction over those dainties.
“You are feeding me too well, Eliza,” she would say. “I don't expect an egg with my tea when new-laid eggs are at famine prices. And that little sole yesterday. A Dublin Bay herring is a very dainty and sweet fish; I should have been quite content with one."
“Is it Dublin Bays, Miss 'Stasia ? " Mrs Cronin would answer. “Sure, they're great commonalty, and besides they're scarce. That little sole now, the fishwoman had her basket full o' them. “Take them at your own price,' says she, ‘for I'm heart-scalded wid them. There was a terrible take o' them last night,' she says. As for them eggs, my cousin Bridget brought me a present of a dozen. Sure it was a bit o' business dalin' I was doin' wid ye, sendin' you wan up for your tay."
After an interview like this, and there were many such, Mrs. Cronin would descend to her own premises, wiping her brow and hoping the Lord would forgive her.
“I'm after tellin' lies as fast as a dog 'ud trot,” she would say to Mr. Cronin, who was a waiter by night, and in the daytime cleaned knives and chopped wood and polished boots and washed dishes. “Sure my tongue runs away wid me. She'd ha' been deceived wid the quarter o' the lies I told her. Indeed she's as aisy deceived as a child; aisier, for child her are sharp as needles-look at our own Mary Anne!”
Both John and Eliza Cronin-for, although John owed none of the special loyalty to the Chevenixes which his wife did as an old servant, he yet thought with Eliza in pretty nearly all matters—both John and Eliza would have been distressed if they could have known of that wolf of fear which was tver gnawing, gnawing at poor Miss Anastasia's heart.
It would never have occurred to Eliza that Miss 'Stasia. could have cause for fear. She was quite content to shoulder the burden of Miss 'Stasia's advancing years. Not that they need be apprehended for a long time. Why, Miss 'Stasia's sixtieth birthday was yet some way off. But when the time
should come, sure the children would be grown up by then and doing finely; already Mary Anne had a position in view in a big draper's, for which she would receive the princely income of five shillings a week. And it was no use meeting trouble half way; and God was good.
But Eliza had not reckoned with Miss 'Stasia's pride. Miss 'Stasia's mind was made up. The idea of becoming a burden on the willing Eliza would have been the last thing possible to her thoughts. She had considered several alternative institutions where her days might be ended. She might perhaps be able to creep into one of these, concealing the fact, at least from the other inmates, that she was the daughter and the sister of two Lords Money more. She imagined disguises in which no one would ever trace the blue blood of the Chevenixes. When the time came she would have courage to enter one or other of the abhorrent institutions. It might even have to be the workhouse. Then, on the other hand, perhaps she might die before the necessity arose. She prayed a great deal that God might find a way out for her, creeping along the dark streets—a darker little figure shrouded in rusty crape, and closely veiled lest she should meet any one belonging to the great days—to the Church which was her one bright spot of the neighborhood.
If she could she would have hidden. herself away completely in that room of hers at the top of the house, approached by a garret stairs. Its very position seemed to give it an impregnability which she hugged with a sense of satisfaction. Mrs. De Renzy was asthmatic, the Misses Vandaleur had one a weak heart, one a rheumatic lameness. None of the three would attempt the garret staircase unless the temptation were greater than any she was likely to offer.
She loved her garret room. For one thing the windows were not level with the street, but stood back, invisible from it, in a privacy, since it was the only house of the street which possessed a garret story. From those windows she could see, across the smoke of the city, wonderful glimpses of mountain and sea. In the early mornings indeed and she was often up for an early service, before the chimneys smoked
-there was a fairyland of beauty visible from the garret windows, when even the spires and chimney-pots of the city in its valley but enhanced the loveliness of the world which every night seemed to be born in new loveliness.