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"Let me lie on the ground alone, and think of him, and wail for him." That is what Violet Tempest would have said, if she could have expressed her desire clearly. Roderick Vawdrey went back to the Abbey House after the funeral, and contrived to see Miss McCroke, who was full of sympathy for everybody. "Do let me see Violet, that's a dear creature," he said.

The two pairs of lips were not very far away from each other, and Rorie might have been tempted to commit a third offence against the proprieties, if Miss McCroke had not fortunately entered at this very moment. She was wonderfully surprised at seeing Mr. Vawdrey, congratulated him ceremoniously upon his majority, and infused an element of stiffness into the small assembly.

It seemed to him a long time before Vixen appeared, and then the door opened, and a slim black figure came in, a white fixed face looked at him piteously, with tearless eyes made big by a great grief. She came leaning on Miss McCroke, as if she could hardly walk unaided. The face was stranger to him than an altogether unknown face.

"Papa has gone to Ringwood to look at a horse; but you'll see him at the grand dinner. He'll be coming home to dress presently." "I hope you had an agreeable tour, Mr. Vawdrey?" said Miss McCroke. "Oh, uncommonly jolly." "And you like Switzerland?" "Yes; it's nice and hilly."

There was no friendly Miss McCroke now to be fussy and anxious, and to interpose herself between Violet Tempest and her grief. Violet was supposed to be "finished," or, in other words, to know everything under the sun which a young lady of good birth and ample fortune can be required to know.

Violet shut herself in her room, and refused to see anyone, except patient Miss McCroke, who was always bringing her cups of tea, or basins of arrowroot, trying to coax her to take some kind of nourishment, dabbing her hot forehead with eau-de-Cologne doing all those fussy little kindnesses which are so acutely aggravating in a great sorrow.

She loved her father with all her heart, and mind, and soul; she loved her mother with a lesser love; she had a tolerant affection for Miss McCroke; she loved her ponies, and the dog Argus; she loved the hounds in the kennels; she loved every honest familiar face of nurse, servant, and stable-man, gardener, keeper, and huntsman, that had looked upon her with friendly, admiring eyes, ever since she could remember.

To have a peep at Algiers and Tunis, and even to see Cairo and Alexandria, might be practicable; but anything beyond that Miss McCroke thought wild and adventurous. Had her dear Violet considered the climate, and the possibility of being taken prisoners by black people, or even devoured by lions?

"If Miss McCroke could hear you!" "She does, often. You can't imagine the wild things I say to her. But I love her fondly." A great bell clanged out with a vigorous peal, that seemed to shake the old stable. "There's the first bell. I must run and dress. Come to the drawing-room and see mamma."

It would have been fun to see poor Rorie prick his clumsy fingers with the holly. Vixen laughed at his awkwardness in advance, when she talked to Miss McCroke about him, and drew upon himself that lady's mild reproval. But Christmas came and brought no Rorie. He had gone off to spend his Christmas at the Duke of Dovedale's Scotch castle. Easter came, and still no Rorie.