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"Thank you, Hector dear, I had rather not," placidly responds Blanche, making his vehemence fall so flat, and Leonard's almost exulting alarm glide into such semi-mortification, that I could have laughed, though I remain in hopes that her "rather not" may always be as prudent, for I believe it is the only limit to Hector's gifts. '29th, 8 A. M. Farewell to the Coombe of Coombes.

"Sometimes," she revealed artlessly to Coombe, "while I am driving in the park on a fine afternoon when every one is out and the dresses look like the flower beds, I let myself remember it just to make myself enjoy everything more by contrast."

He did so because he had perceiving eyes. She sat down and covered her face with her apron for a moment. She made no sound or movement, but caught a deep quick breath two or three times. The relaxed strain had temporarily overpowered her. She uncovered her face and got up almost immediately. She was not likely to give way openly to her emotions. "Thank you, Lord Coombe," she said.

"He does not ask to know why I turn to him and I do not ask to know why he cares about this particular child. It is taken for granted that is his affair and not mine. I am paid well to take care of Robin, and he knows that all I say and do is part of my taking care of her." After the visit of the Erwyn children, she had a brief interview with Coombe, in which she made for him a clear sketch.

"This is the Night Nursery, I suppose," Coombe had said when she began. He put up his glasses and looked the uninviting little room over. He scrutinized it and she wondered what his opinion of it might be. "Yes, my lord. The Day Nursery is through that door."

Inside the porch was a recess where the women left their pattens in winter, instead of clattering iron-shod down the aisle. Okebourne village was built in an irregular way on both sides of a steep coombe, just at the verge of the hills, and about a mile from the Chace; indeed, the outlying cottages bordered the park wall.

She was not a silent person either, far from it. She bubbled over with precise and cheerful comment, she appeared to talk even more than was absolutely necessary and it was only upon her departure that her entertainers noticed that she had said nothing at all. A very baffling person to deal with. Coombe could not manage to "take to" her at all and great sympathy was felt for Mrs.

Slanting off the shoulder, he led down towards the coombe on his right. The boy on his arm was trembling. In the deep bosom of the coombe was a green hollow. On the brink they paused. Above them a lark sang. A little circle of men lay round the saucer in the sun, the flies upon their faces. In front of the others a big man sprawled across a great black horse.

Lady Sellingworth was among the first few women who left the drawing-room, and was sitting at a round table in the big, stone-coloured dining-room when Baron de Melville, an habitue at Coombe, bent over her. "I'm lucky enough to be beside you!" he said. "This is a rare occasion. One never meets you now." He sat down on her right. The place on her left was vacant.

It had been confidently supposed that she would go away at once for a rest and change. Every one knew that the Hollises had offered to take her with them on a long trip to the Pacific Coast. But Esther had declined to go. She declined to go anywhere. Worn out as she was with strain and grief, she persisted in disregarding the advice of everybody. Coombe was quite annoyed with Esther so stubborn!

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