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near her, but they were generally under the novel. She had been educated abroad, was a remarkably good linguist, a pretty woman with a pretty affectation of age, and frequently called clever. Certainly she was popular with clever people, who were brought to her and brought each other. “You must know Mrs Adare," was a common phrase among persons of mind. She agreed with everybody who talked well. She could not resist an analogy or a French proverb. A good phrase converted her, and stayed by her. It turned up pleasantly in future talks ; but she did not talk much. She was an admirable listener, and pleasant to look upon as she listened. It is not strange that she was popular with clever people.
“I don't want to be read to, dear,” said the gentle lady; "I want you to come and sit by me for a little while, and be quiet. Will you ?”
Miss Katharine, with a little look of comic penitence, made haste to do as she was bid.
“It is time that you gave up these boy's tricks, slang and whistling. Will you try? to please me ?”
She held the girl's hand in her slim white fingers, and patted it as she continued, “Now that you are out in Society, you know.” She smiled gently as
she remembered that her daughter had been a great success.
“Yes, mamma, I'll try; but, you know, it is awfully hard—I mean it is very hard, with those boys about the house. I wonder where they are now?"
She paused, and then added in a tone of sympathy, “They are sure to be up to some lark or other."
“Katharine !” said Mrs Adare.
“Oh, mamma, I am so sorry. I never can think of the right word till afterwards. Mamma, when is Irvine coming back from abroad ?”
“Irvine, Irvine,” repeated her mother, in an absent manner. She was languidly stroking her girl's bright hair, and smiling faintly. When she had succeeded in reducing a listener to repose, she herself was apt to fall into such a state of dreamy calm, that she forgot to say what she intended, and sometimes unconsciously uttered her passing thoughts aloud. She was in such a mood, when she presently observed, in a low, contemplative tone, “ You might do better than that.” “Mamma!” cried Katharine; "what do you mean?"
“What do I mean by what, dear? I was thinking of Irvine Dale.”
“And you said that I might do better.” The girl's cheeks were blushing, but her eyes could not help laughing.
“Katharine, my child, how can you use such an expression! It is really terribly vulgar. There, there, I know that it was only thoughtlessness; and Irvine has really grown up into a very nice, gentlemanlike young man. Though he certainly has some very absurd ideas.”
As her mother had gradually sunk into silence, the daughter hazarded a remark. “Perhaps he is not so very wrong after all, mamma."
“Oh yes, he is, dear,” said Mrs Adare, calmly. “He is full of wild, young-men’s notions. All the best thinkers ” Here her voice sank to rest, but she stretched her hand towards the pile of books beside her, vaguely conscious of their protecting power. Her eyes were still turned towards her daughter, and her outstretched hand accidentally rested on the novel. After a pause she went on absently, “He has had a very long minority, and must be worth seven or eight thousand a-year. It is a pity that he is not more like other people.”
“Mamma," said Katharine, “what are you talking about ?”
"Don't interrupt me, dear; I was thinking."
“Why do people wish to be more like other people? I think it is nice to see somebody different, like Irvine."
“You are talking a great deal about Irvine," said her mother; and then, rousing herself to the execution of a maternal duty, she continued, “You know that I have always thought and said that parents should leave their daughters' choice quite unfettered.” Here she paused, and presently repeated the words “quite unfettered” in a low voice, as if she was pleased with the expression, while her eyes wandered off to the corner of the room.
“Yes, mamma, of course," said the daughter, who was interested in the subject, but growing very restless on her stool.
"I think that picture is crooked,” said Mrs Adare, meditatively.
Katharine, glad of an excuse for doing something, jumped up to put it straight; but when she looked round with her hand on the frame, she saw that her mother was absorbed in her novel. She went back smiling, and standing just behind the head of the sofa, bent down till her lips were close to her mother's ear, and whispered, “Now, mamma, put down your book, please, and tell me what you were going to say about a daughter's choice."
“I told you, dear, but you don't attend to what I say. You jumped up about something, just as I was telling you to take time and not to choose in a hurry."
“Mamma, dear, you never said a word.”
“You must allow me to know what I said, dear. I am not quite a fool,” observed Mrs Adare, plaintively.
“I am very sorry. Won't you please say it again ? Do, please ;” and she passed her arms round her mother's neck.
Mrs Adare was much strengthened by the support. She put down her book, and addressed herself firmly to the point. "Did Irvine ever say—I mean, did you ever promise—did he ever say anything that led you to think—there, you know what I mean.” But Miss Katharine made no answer. “Did you ever think that he-in fact, that he cared about you?” Mrs Adare made a futile effort to look at her daughter, who was standing directly behind her.
That young lady pursed her lips quaintly, and presently said, “I don't think Irvie will ever care about anybody in that way.” As she spoke, she