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LONDON SOCIETY.

MARCH, 1874.

OPEN! SESAME !

BY FLORENCE MARRYAT (Mrs. Ross-CHURCH), AUTHOR OF "LovE's CONFLICT,'

NO INTENTIONS,' ETC., ETC.

CHAPTER I.

SHE

WHY DID YOU NOT TELL HER OF THIS BEFORE ?' YHE has no more heart than and park and pasture land, which

a stone ! says General yet forms but a small part of the Hawke.

property that has been intrusted She has so much heart she to their charge. General Hawke doesn't know what to do with it,' steps out upon the window-sill, replies Mr. Mildmay.

and points angrily to the close• What! when she spises our shaven lawn that lies beneath the counsels, laughs at our threats, terrace. and disobeys our orders ?'

'Look at that, sir-look at “How much of her heart do you that! would such a state of things suppose is concerned in these have been permitted in the days things? She is very thoughtless, when my old friend West was but she is generous. Take her in master here ?-never, and you ore of her softened moods and know it!' appeal to her feelings, and you Mr. Mildmay, who has followed will find her as tractable as an him to the window, sees that the infanti'

carefully-tended grass is ploughed 'Pooh! but you were always up in fifty different directions, as on her side,' grumbles General though cattle had been trampling Hawke.

it all night. . And you were always against ‘Dear, dear! this is a great her!' retorts Mr. Mildmay, with a pity! he says, in his quiet way; dash of clerical warmth.

'the gardeners must be answerable The person of whom they are for this. Is it possible they can speaking is an heiress, and their have let the cows in through the mutual ward, Miss West-Norman, west gate ? and the place in which they are Cows !' repeats the General, in speaking of her is the library at a voice of supreme contempt; 'no Norman House in Hertfordshire. cows are at fault here, sir. It's

It is a soft, mild afternoon in your ward, Mr. Mildmay-your April, and the windows are open ward !' io the ground. Beyond them Here let it be observed that stretches a wide expanse of garden whenever Miss West-Norman is

VOL. XXV.-NO. CXLVII.

convicted of an offence in the eyes event occurs, the very handsome of her guardians, she immediately maintenance provided for her albecomes, in those of General most justifiesHawke, the ward of Mr. Mildmay. * Her robbing the property unWhen her beauty is admired, her til it will not be worth the accepwit repeated, her courage extolled, tance of another-I don't agree the General is ready to stand with you, sir. I strolled through sponsor for all her good points; the conservatories this morningbut directly she fails (and Miss hardly a flower to be seen-all West-Norman, alas! fails very stripped off for some confounded often), he hands over the responsi- nonsense up at the churchbility to his companion in distress, 'I must beg you to remember, who accepts it meekly, and stands General up for his troublesome charge Oh! no offence to the cloth, staunchly, though in rather a my dear Mildmay-you've known feeble and deprecating way. me too long to think that-but

My ward !'he echoes, as this girl is altogether too imGeneral Hawke throws the last petuous, too unreasonable; where imputation at his head.

another woman would pull one Yes, sir, your ward! When I blossom she tears off twenty.' arrived here this morning to con 'It is her nature, which is as sult you on the best steps to take open as her mind. Everil is with respect to Miss West-Nor- large-hearted, large-handed, largeman’s coming of age next month, souled. She has no fear of public the first visit I paid was to the opinion, therefore she is too free stables. What did I see there ?- of speech—of action. She has no seven fine horses, and three lamed. idea of doing a thing by halves, Who lamed them ? Miss West- therefore she is extravagant, reckNorman. How? By jumping less, and defiant. But she has a two of them over the sunk fence noble nature, which will show into the park, and throwing down itself some day when people least the third in driving tandem. I expect it, and save her under come round to the lawn-I find it circumstances that would crush cut up as though a charge of ordinary women to the ground.' cavalry had gone over it. Who Humph! can't say I follow did this? Miss West-Norman. you. But Barrett tells me that How? In teaching her horses to the poultry-yard and the forcingjump. It's outrageous, sir-a houses have been nearly emptied good piece of grass cut up and this winter for the poor.' three horses lamed for a girl's It has been such a hard season, tantrums. It's not to be stood!' and we have had so much sick

'But after all it is her own ness,' murmurs the rector. "But lawn, and they are her own I did remonstrate with her about horses,' remonstrates the other. that as far as lay in my power.'

Her own lawn! No such As far as lay in your power ! thing, sir. Her own horses! Not Everything should lie in your a bit of it. Nothing here is her power, sir, living on the spot as own until she comes of age, and you do, if you only knew how to not then unless she complies with use it. And yet you talk about the conditions of her father's will. finding her as tractable as You should know that as well as infant,' sneers the General. But I do.'

there is another point I wish to " True, General, but until that discuss with you. Who is this

an

Captain Staunton of whom I hear same as usual, very pale, very as a visitor to the house ?'

thin, and very abstracted. I 'I can tell you nothing of him never saw such a strange look as beyond his name. Everil met there is in that man's eyes. And him at the assize ball, and subse though he perfectly understands quently he was introduced here the conditions of his uncle's will, by his sister, Lady Russell. He I could hardly arrest his attention is an agreeable young fellow, and sufficiently to make him agree to our ward appears to take pleasure them.' in his society. But I have already *He does agree to them, then ?' cautioned Miss Strong upon the Certainly--if the lady will subject.'

follow suit; and of that there is "You have already cautioned no doubt. She has known for the Miss Strong! There is need then last five or six years that it was of caution. Is Staunton here her father's wish she should marry often ?

her cousin.' From what I can gather, he is 'But she has never heard that —but not more so, perhaps, than in the event of non-compliance she other people — there is always loses her fortune.' company coming or going at • There was no need she should. Norman House.'

That will only form one more There should be no company incentive to her doing what is here at all, sir. What can a girl best for her. The girl would be like that want with company? mad to throw away such a chance.' Hasn't she got Miss Strong ? This 'General, I don't feel quite easy is the way the bills are run up, about this matter. Everil is so until one would think one was high-spirited, so determined, so— catering for an hotel rather than what you would call—mad, that a private house. It is your duty if she thought with the retention to forbid all such folly, Mildmay.' of her fortune she lost even the

Oh! if you are going to lay least bit of her own honour, she such a task upon me, I resign my would cast it all to the winds, and office,' replies Mr. Mildmay. “Miss consider there something West-Norman is no longer a child; grand in going through the world she will be twenty-one next month; a pauper.' and she has--well! a will of her ‘But how could that be ?' own. We are on the best of terms If she had given encourageat present, and I prefer not to ment to another, for instance, meddle with her household ar fostered hopes-expectationsrangements.'

‘Has there been any confounded ‘Let it be, then. A month, love-making going on between her more or less, of extravagance can and this fellow Staunton ? cries not make much difference in the the General, abruptly. end. And her cousin, the Earl, Not that I know of, General. will be setting things to rights I should have been the first to let before long.'

you hear of it if there had. But Have you seen him lately?' who is to account for all the

'I was at Castle Valence last vagaries of a young girl's heart ? week. My visit to him was the And I am so much employed in occasion of my requesting you to my parish-I wish you'd speak to meet me here to-day.'

Miss Strong about it.' *How is his health ?'

The General nearly pulls the 'Humph! he looks much the library bell down.

was

. Tell Miss Strong that I desire least responsible for Captain Staunto see her for a moment."

ton's visits here. His sister, Lady Yes, sir,' and in a few minutes Russell, is the intimate friend of she appears. She is not at all Mrs. West, and she brought her like the stereotyped dragon in brother here with Mrs. West's apappearance, but a smiling, com probation-whilst Mrs. West was fortable, and yet vigilant-looking staying in the house-ostensibly woman, whose whole bearing seems for Mrs. West's gratification, and to say that if the world has gone

he has continued to come here on well with her, it is because she the same terms.' has grasped her nettle and defied It is evident that Maurice the poisonous thing to sting. Staunton is no favourite with Miss

General Hawke and I have Strong. been talking of our ward, Miss Is Mrs. West staying here now?' Strong. We are anxious, if pos demands General Hawke. sible, to ascertain her feelings with 'Yes, General; and as she is respect to her betrothal to the Lord Valence's sister-in-law, and Earl of Valence. She attains her perfectly aware of the engagement majority, as you know, next month, existing between his cousin and when the question of her marriage himself, I considered that, whilst to him must be settled. You are her chaperonage was extended to in her confidence. You can assure Miss West-Norman, mine was unus, no doubt, that there is no ex called for. Not that I should at isting obstacle to the fulfilment of any time, I hope, relax in my vigiher father's wishes.'

lance over the interests of your None that Miss West-Norman ward, but it was not my part to has done me the honour to con gainsay any of Mrs. West's wishes, fide to me, sir,' replies Miss Strong, nor to object to the visitors who as she ensconces herself in an arm might call upon her.' chair between the two guardians. Of course not. I perfectly

• But that won't do, madam, understand your position, Miss commences the General, roughly; Strong; and Miss West-Norman we must have more than that. is naturally safe under the care of Does anybody ever come to the her cousin. You think, then, that house, or has Miss West-Norman she will find no difficulty in ratimet any one out of doors that is fying her engagement with the at all likely to have taken her Earl ?' fancy, and make her obstinate 'I have never heard her say about this business ?

otherwise, sir.' O! now, General! you really 'She speaks of him in a cordial, set me too hard a task. You will friendly manner—as a young girl require a list of all the gentlemen might speak of her future husyour ward has spoken to whilst band ?' under my charge, next. Mr. Mild I have never heard her mention may knows the names of the visitors him at all, sir.' to Norman House as well as I do.' 'Humph! that's strange. I

'She talks a great deal of this don't seem to see my way through Captain Staunton,' remarks the this. Do you know the conditions rector, thoughtfully.

of the will, madam ?' Miss Strong purses up her mouth 'I know nothing but what you and smooths down the folds of her and Mr. Mildmay have been pleased silk dress.

to tell me, General.' 'I do not consider myself in the • This young lady's father has

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