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CHAPTER IV

ON DISAPPROVAL

“ It's

HENRIETTA was naturally the first to perceive and proclaim the approach of the Tufted carriage as soon as it drove in at the gate. For full half an hour she had been, at intervals of five minutes, fidgeting to the window, as her mother, with gathering exasperation, had complained.

“ There they are !" she called out. the biggest carriage, that always fetches the Duchess; the same she lost her teeth in last time.

Now come and sit down,” Mrs. Burscough ordered her peremptorily, and be ready to receive Mrs. Hubert properly.”

To receive a new sister-in-law with propriety implied, according to Mrs. Burscough, being discovered seated, dressed for the afternoon, and engaged in useful work. She herself was knitting, so was Eleanor ; Henrietta had long had a piece of wool-work on hand, which, when finished, would represent Queen Victoria in a tartan dress, the Prince Consort in a kilt of no known clan, the Prince of Wales in another, and a stag bounding away from the presence of royalty towards a small mountain that looked like a carelessly planned purple pyramid.

The carriage drove up to the door, and Mr. Burscough was heard welcoming the new arrivals on the steps. Henrietta craned her neck so as to be able to see about half of one of the horses and nearly all the coachman.

“ Hubert's giving the men money,” she announced ; “both of them. I wonder how much.”

“ Twice what he ought, I'll be bound,” said his mother, flinging a cap-string back with pessimistic emphasis.

There was a crunching of gravel, the carriage drove away, the voices were heard from the hall.

“Shouldn't I go out ? ” Henrietta pleaded, , less perhaps out of eager affection than impatient curiosity.

You sit where you are,” said her mother decisively, beginning another row of her knitting with stately composure.

The voices were plainly audible outside the drawing-room door ; it opened, and Mr. Burscough came in with his daughter-in-law trying to lean on his angular elbow. He was a little over seventy, with a winter-apple complexion, and thick, shortish white hair, sticking straight up like a brush; not tall, but very upright, with long feet and coldlooking hands. The girl on his arm was very short, uncommonly pretty, and dressed just as Henrietta would like to be dressed had she known how and been allowed.

Insignificant,” thought Mrs. Burscough, whose ample contour followed large and flowing lines.

Then, and not till then, did she arise, and, leisurely placing her knitting on a little spindlelegged table, sailed forward, every inch a mother-in-law.

Here," said the old gentleman, perspicuously, “is Mrs. Hubert.

“And here,” said the bridegroom, laughing, is Hubert."

Present your wife,” said his mother. The young man did as he was bidden, and bringing the girl forward a further

pace,

said: “Sheila, this is my mother.”

Mrs. Burscough was not satisfied with the correctness of this introduction: it was rather presenting her, she considered. But

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she placed one hand—a well-shaped one, expressing much lady-like firmness-flat on the small of the bride's back, and with the other shook hands; then, advancing her broad bust another inch or two, she pursed her mouth till it met her daughter-in-law's forehead.

Standing back a little, she steered the new arrival round and directed her attention to her sisters-in-law.

My unmarried daughters,” she announced. “Eleanor ” (Eleanor embraced Hubert's wife with much cordiality), “and Henrietta (Henrietta kissed Sheila, not inaudibly). “How do you do, Hubert ? "

I'm rather cold, and Sheila is halffrozen.”

It was late October, and the sky was black with coming snow. The wind was whistling in three different notes in the sash joints of the three windows.

“The fire will be lighted,” said Mrs. Burscough, “at tea-time. Till November we do not begin fires regularly.”

" It seems quite warm in here, coming in from outside.” Sheila protested, with chattering teeth.

It is warm,” said her mother-in-law, “but you do not appear so.”

“Shall I put a match to the fire ?” said Henrietta, whose nose was pinker than beauty demanded.

Let it alone,” said Mrs. Burscough. "It always smokes when you light it. Jane will bring tea presently. Henrietta will show you your room, Sheila. She likes to be doing something."

Come on, Henrietta," Hubert suggested. “Sheila can warm herself at her own fire."

Henrietta looked guilty, being perfectly innocent.

Mrs. Burscough, who never was, nor looked, guilty, explained that there was no fire in Mrs. Hubert's room.

Fires are unhealthy in bedrooms," she said judicially We never have them. So we never have colds-except Henrietta, whose nose is over a fire wherever there is one. If Mrs. Hubert is used to the practice, one can be lighted in her apartment. Eleanor, you will instruct, Sarah; but, remember, there's a soot-sack in the chimney. She is quite capable of lighting it without removing it."

On the stairs Henrietta embraced Sheila again, and she really seemed pleasant and good-natured; all the same, the Irish girl

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