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literal, and apt to misapprehend rhetorical


Mamma doesn't mean that," exclaimed Eleanor, "she is speaking of poor Hubert's way."


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But," persisted Henrietta, "has he fallen in love before?"

Fifty times, of course," said his mother. And hadn't any of them money? asked Henrietta, accepting the fifty as historical facts.

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"This is Hubert's first engagement," Eleanor felt bound in justice to explain. She was a just, indeed a kind woman; and she was fond of her youngest brother. "Mamma is speaking of his general disposition."

Mrs. Burscough never explained herself to Henrietta; if Eleanor chose to, she had no objection. It was always a mystery to her that her youngest daughter should be such a goose. She has," she frequently said to herself, "enough good looks to be my daughter-though barely. But not a grain of my sense, or of her father's."

"General disposition!" cried Henrietta, quite in the dark as to what might be implied in a general disposition to become engaged

to impecunious beauty. "Desmond is a pretty name though. It sounds almost like a title."

Her mother emitted an inarticulate expression of criticism closely resembling a


"There is an Earl of Desmond," Eleanor admitted, with timid impartiality, "at least there used to be."

"An Irish Earl!" said her mother sarcastically.

"But if she's an Irish girl, that makes it all the more probable," urged Henrietta, elliptically.

"But I don't know that the Earl of Desmond's name is Desmond," her sister confessed.

Henrietta saw no reason why it shouldn't be --and looked it. She liked the idea of a sister-in-law connected with earls. She

thought earls very pretty.


Perhaps," she said with some temerity, "she has some money."

"I say no!" her mother insisted almost fiercely. 'They must be a large family; they sit down fourteen to dinner; Hubert mentions it. That'll tell you how much each girl is likely to have."

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Eleanor shook her head again despondently. 'But," said the weakly persistent Henrietta, some may be visitors. We sat down fourteen when the Bishop came. Edith and Maria were at home; there was his chaplain and the two churchwardens, and the Shipwashes; you know, Mamma, you said yourself we couldn't invite Mr. Shipwash to come without his sisters, and we had all dined there."

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"If you are going to argue me down, Henrietta," said Mrs. Burscough, with considerable heat, "you had better say so; and Eleanor can explain to you that I shall not stand it for a moment. I tell you they were not visitors. It would be all the worse if they were; it would show what sort of an Irish extravagant home the girl comes from."

Considered in this light the idea she had so vehemently scorned began to have some attraction for the old lady.

"It would be just like the waste and improvidence of an Irish home," she declared, "to sit down to a dinner-party of fourteen every day. That's their way. Open house all the year round, and not a notion what's being spent!"

"Sheila,'"' murmured the obtuse and sentimental Henrietta. "It's a pretty name anyway. I wonder what it means.'

"It means," snapped her mother, "romantic folly and uselessness, and pretty-my-lady airs and graces and baby-house incompetence."



Henrietta stared in amazement at a Christian name of such compendious significance. But," added Mrs. Burscough with finality, "it's just like your brother. Trust him for never marrying Maria Jones or Jane Williams."

Henrietta's round blue eyes opened wider; she was convinced there had been romances, undivulged to her, with Hubert for hero, and ladies of the names quoted by her mother for successive heroines. All the same, she was glad they had come to nothing; Sheila Desmond (with an earl in the hazy background) was much prettier.



She is only eighteen," Eleanor observed; 'her character may be formable.' "Formidable!" cried her mother; a chit of eighteen formidable? I wonder which of you was formidable to me when you were eighteen? You knew better. And she shall learn better, let me tell you, if she comes here."

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"Formable, Mamma, formable

"You may have meant formable, or you may have had no meaning whatever," said Mrs. Burscough with cold dignity, "you said formidable."

Fernando's prospective grandmother wore close caps and was really a little deaf, but only when she chose. She never chose to be considered so.

Eleanor merely abandoned the point. Henrietta, who never succumbed to experience, dashed into fresh misfortune.

"I suppose," she opined cheerfully, "she is not, being Irish, a Roman Catholic."

"My dear Henrietta," her sister was beginning with mild expostulation, "her father is a rector."

But Mrs. Burscough was not prone to mildness in correction.

"A Roman Catholic!" she nearly screamed, "of all the monstrous suggestions for a woman of one and thirty to make to her mother's face! My son marry a Roman Catholic-and that son an ordained clergyman. Is it out of revenge, because he's five years younger than you, that you sit there insulting your father's son? Marry a Roman Catholic ! I desire, Henrietta, you will walk out, instead

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