In order to stifle any hints or rumours which might have got about Melkbridge of Mavis having been a mother without being a wife, she was pressed by the Devitts to make a stay of some length at Melkbridge House.

The families of consequence about Melkbridge were old-fashioned, conservative folk, who resented the intrusion in their midst of those they considered beneath them.

"Why should I be ashamed?" he asked. "I'm only a clerk in a boot factory." "You needn't rub it in. No, I was thinking how people in Melkbridge would talk if they saw you with me or any other chap." "People aren't quite so bad as that," she urged. "No woman would ever forgive you for your looks." "Well, goodbye; thank you for saving Jill's life, and thank you for a very happy day." "Rot!

She sat down and wrote to Mr Devitt to thank him for his letter; she said that the would be pleased to commence her duties at the time suggested. The question of where and how she was to lodge her baby at Melkbridge, and, at the same time, avoid all possible risk of its identity being discovered, she left for future consideration.

She had added that, if it were destined for them to meet, nothing would give her greater pleasure than to see him again. She ended by wishing him God-speed, a safe return, a successful and happy life. As the days passed, with all the indignities and anxieties attending the quest for employment, the girl's thoughts more and more inclined to Melkbridge.

A week before Christmas, Mavis and her husband returned to Melkbridge. Christmas Day that year fell on a Sunday. Upon the preceding Saturday, she bade her many Melkbridge acquaintances to the feast. When this was over, she wished her guests good night and a happy Christmas.

With the exception of one incident, she had resolved to forget as much as possible of her existence since she had left Brandenburg College; also, to see what happiness she could wrest from life in the capacity of clerk in the Melkbridge boot manufactory, a position she owed to her long delayed appeal to Mr Devitt for employment.

Mavis tried to persuade herself that Miss Toombs's objection to her going to the same place could have nothing in common with the fact of her lover's presence there. The next morning, while the two friends were breakfasting, Mavis again spoke of the matter. "I can't make out why you were so against my going to Melkbridge," she said. "Have you been worrying about it?" asked Miss Toombs. "Yes.

As the box containing her baby disappeared, Mavis felt as if the life were being mercilessly drawn from her. It was as if she stood there for untold ages. Then it seemed as if her heart were torn out by the roots. Blinded with pain, she found herself being led by Miss Toombs towards the carriage in which she had been driven from Melkbridge. But Mavis would not get into this.

If a few moments of pleasure are worth purchasing at a cost of many hours of crowded disappointment, it was as well that Mavis was ignorant of the way in which her prospects had been prejudiced by the trend of events at Melkbridge House since Mrs Devitt had replied to Miss Mee's letter.