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Tristram of Blent Part 65

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"And it's not going to look unusual anyhow? Are you mad? Or--or do you mean it?"

"Don't you think both may be true?" asked Harry. Cecily's gravity broke down. She kissed Mina again, laughing in an abandonment of exultation.

"Oh, you're both mad!"

"Not at all. You're judging us by the standard of your other engaged couple to-night."

"Did Mr Neeld know anything about your coming?" Mina demanded, with a sudden recollection.

"Nothing at all. Did he say anything to you?" For a moment the gla.s.s of old brown halted on its way to his lips, and he glanced at Mina sharply.

"No. But when I asked him if he had seen you he looked--well, just rather funny."

The old brown resumed its progress. Harry was content.

"There's no better meal than fresh sandwiches and old brown," he observed. "You'll come with us, won't you, and keep Cecily company at the little house till we fix it up?"

Mina looked from one to the other in new amazement, with all her old excited pleasure in the Tristram ways. They did a thing--and they did not spoil it by explanations.

"And Mr Gainsborough?" she asked.

"We're going to leave a note for father," smiled Cecily.

"You're always doing that," objected Mina.

"It seems rather an early train for Mr Gainsborough," Harry suggested, laying down his napkin.

"Oh, why don't you tell me something about it?" cried Mina despairingly.

"But it's true? The great thing's true anyhow, isn't it?"

"Well, what do you think I came down from town for?" inquired Harry.

"And why have we been so long in the Gallery, Mina?"

"You've given in then?" exclaimed the Imp, pointing a finger in triumph at Harry.

"Mina, how can you say a thing like that?"

"It looks as if it were true enough," admitted Harry. "Really I must go," he added. "I can't keep that fly all night. I shall see you in the morning, Madame Zabriska. Eight o'clock at Fillingford!"

"I'm really to go with you?" she gasped.

"Yes, yes, I thought all that was settled," said he, rather impatiently.

"Bring a pretty frock. I want my wedding to be done handsomely--in a style that suits the wedding of----" He looked at Cecily--"of Lady Tristram of Blent."

"Cecily, it's not all a joke?"

"Yes!" cried Cecily. "All a delicious delicious joke! But we're going to be married."

After a moment's hesitation Mina came across to Harry, holding out her hands. "I'm glad, I'm so glad," she murmured, with a little catch in her voice.

He took her hands and pressed them; he looked at her very kindly, though he smiled still.

"Yes, it undoes all the mistakes, doesn't it?" he said. "At least I hope it will," he added the next moment with a laugh.

"It's really the only way to be married," declared Cecily.

"Well, for you people--for you extraordinary Tristrams--I dare say it is," said Mina.

"You'll come?" Cecily implored.

"She couldn't keep away," mocked Harry. "She's got to see the end of us."

"Yes, and our new beginning. Oh, what Blent's going to be, Mina! If you don't come with us now, we won't let you stay at Merrion."

"I'm coming," said Mina. Indeed she would not have stayed away. If she had needed further inducement the next moment supplied it.

"You're to be our only confidant," said Harry.

"Yes! Till it's all over, n.o.body's to know but you, Mina."

The Imp was. .h.i.t on her weak spot. She was tremulously eager to go.

"Eight o'clock! Oh, can we be ready, Cecily?"

"Of course we shall be ready," said Cecily scornfully.

Harry had taken his hat from the table and came up to shake hands. He was imperturbably calm and business-like.

"Don't run it too fine," he said. "Good-night, Madame Zabriska."

She gave him her hand and he held it for a moment. He grew a little grave, but there was still a twinkle in his eye.

"You're a good friend," he said. "I shall come on you again, if I want you, you know." He raised her hand to his lips and kissed it.

"I don't know that I care much about anything except you two," stammered Mina.

He gripped her hand again. She seemed well paid. He held out his hand to Cecily. Mina understood.

"I shall be up a little while, Cecily. Come to me before you go to bed,"

she said; and she stood in the hall, watching them as they walked out together. There was joy in her heart--ay, and envy. The two brought tears to her eyes and struggled which should make the better claim to them. "But they do like me!" she said in a plaintive yet glad little cry, as she was left alone in the silent old hall.

So still was the night that a man might hear the voice of his heart and a girl the throb of hers. And they were alone; or only the friendly murmur of old Blent was with them, seeming to whisper congratulations on their joy. Her arm was through his, very white on his sleeve, and she leant on him heavily.

"After tempests, dear," said he.

"There shall be no more, no more, Harry."

"Oh, I don't know that. I shall like you in them perhaps. And there may be one more, anyhow."

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