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Tom's pleasant soul sat laughing in his eyes as he answered her:

“Mothers are said to be biassed in favour of their own young; never you believe that, my boy."

Then he turned to Maud.

' May's manners are cast to the winds when His Smallness is present,” he said ; "she won't attend to either of us, 80 we'll attend to each other. Are you going to the Levesons' to-morrow? I hear they are going to be very smart, and that it's a case of red carpet. May, I must smoke a cigarette. I don't care whether it's the drawing-room or not.”

“And fill the room with horrid, horrid smoke,” said May to

her son.

“I hardly know," said Maud ; “ I've been overdoing it lately, and I think I shall go into my shell again for a bit. Wouldn't it be nice to have a real shell, and curl yourself up in the middle of a dinner-party if you were bored.”

"I shall order one,” said Tom thoughtfully. “You do look rather tired. Where are you going to put your shell ? If I were you I should leave London for a week. It would be so original. You would of course let it be known that you were going to read • Sordello.' Sordello' is the fashion now, I think. Of course nobody has read it and that's why they talk about it. No one talks about a thing they really have read.”

“That has a slight flavour of Mr. Manvers,” remarked May.

“Manvers has such a pungent flavour, that one really can't help catching a little of it, if one sees him at all,” said Tom. “But I wasn't consciously Manveresque-I suppose he's in Paris, associating with all the good dead Americans."

May smiled.

“And now mammy's going to take him upstairs,” she said, and left the room.

Tom poured himself out a cup of tea.

Please talk nonsense to me," he said; “I've been seeing Wallingthorpe, and—and of course he's a delightful man, but he is so serious. He takes everybody and everyone seriously, including bimself. That is so clever of him--and the worst of it is he keeps it up. He is always clever. How tiring he must find it!”

Maud laughed, but the laugh ended abruptly.

“ Talk nonsense!” she said ; “I have forgotten how. Ob, Tom, the world is a very serious place!”

Tom raised his eyebrows. “When did you find that out?” he asked. "I? Oh, ever so long ago!" she said rather wildly. "If you take

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it lightly and pleasantly, it turns round on you somehow, and deals you back-handed blows. I don't know why I am saying all this."

“Hit it back,” suggested Tom. “It deals blows back-handed possibly, but it caresses you back-handed too."

Maud put on her gloves, and fitted her fingers carefully.
“I am out of sorts,” she said ; " the world is grievously awry."

What's the matter?
"I am the matter. It's nobody else. But what is one to do ?”

Maud know she was being unwise. She knew perfectly well that she would be sorry for this, but the hope that Tom might understand seemed to her the only thing worth caring for, and at the same time the one thing in all the world which she dreaded. She was afraid, desperately afraid, of saying too much, but she could not help herself. Why will not be understand ?" she thought, “and God forbid that he should.” But Tom was in a thoroughly superficial mood. He said to himself that Maud was out of sorts, that she was overtired and worried.

“ Man disquieteth himself in vain,” he said. “It is best to take living very lightly. We all of us have something we want to do or be, and cannot do or be it. We are wise if we let it alone. There are many things I want to do and be, and cannot manage it, and everyone is in the same plight. After all, if we aim at being contented, that is enough.

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“Aim at being contented ? Aim at being in Heaven! We have to remember that we are on earth.”

Tom rose too.
“What is the matter ?” he said ; “ do tell me."
Again Maud felt stifled and choking.

“One is a creature of moods,” she said hurriedly, "and the heavy moods come, as well as the light. Just now I have a heavy mood. By the way, I shall follow your advice. I am rather overdone, and I shall leave London for a time. I shall not say I am reading “Sordello. I think I shall say I am reading the Bibleit is the better book. I shall go before the end of the week : at present I am going now. Give my adieux to your wife. She is more charming than ever!”

But at this moment May came in, and Maud gave her adieux in person. Tom was vaguely puzzled.

“It's very sudden,” he said. “Are you going really ?”

“Certainly,” said Maud; “ l'imprévu c'est toujours charmant. I really am going-I am going away for a whole fortnight. I want tone, and there is no such thing in London.".

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Tom laughed.
“I am inclined to agree with you," he said.

Well, good-bye,” said Maud; “ good-bye, May-that fascinating child is quite too fascinating."

May sat still a moment after she had gone. “ What is the matter with her?” she asked ; "what have you been saying, Tom ? I never saw her like that.”

“ Nor have I,” said he. “I have said nothing. I have no idea what is the matter with her."

Maud stood on the doorstep, and looked to see if the carriage was in sight, and not seeing it, began to walk away. But she felt hopelessly ill and weak, and told the man to fetch her a bansom. "O God, how tired I am of it all!” she said to herself.

CALIFE

POSTSCRIPT TO VOL. CVIII. The Editor of TEMPLE BAR has he with pleasure that the rumour, mentioned on page 245, of the sale of the Vall door at Sunderland, after the sad occurrence which took place there a few years ago, is unfounded.

LONDON: PRINTED BY WILLIAM CLOWES AND SONS, LIDITED, STAXFORD STREET

AND CHARING CROSS.

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