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med upon the table with his fingers, with something almost derisive in the measured sound; and Joyce half turned to him as if about to speak, but said nothing. It was Janet who answered his question. There was a hot flush upon her cheeks-the flush of excitement and emotion. She answered him shaking her head.

"Ay, Andrew, there's something happened. We're no' like oursel's, as ye can see. Ye wouldna have gotten in this nicht to this afflicted house if ye had not been airt and pairt in it as weel as Peter and me."

"What is the matter?" he repeated, with increased alarm.

"Ye better tell him, Joyce. Puir lad, he has a richt to hear. He's maybe thought like me of sic a thing happening, without fear, as if it might be a kind of diversion. The Lord help us shortsighted folk."

"What is it?" he said; "you are driving me distracted. What has happened?"

Upon this Peter gave a short, dry laugh, which it was alarming to hear. "He'll never find out," said the old man, "if ye give him years to do it. It's against reason —it's against sense-a man to step in and take another man's bairn away."

Joyce was very pale. He obHe observed this for the first time in the confusion and the trouble of this incomprehensible scene. She sat with her hands clasped, looking at no one-not even at himself, though she had given him her hand. It was rare, indeed, that Joyce should be the last to explain. Halliday drew his chair a little nearer, and put his hand timidly upon hers, which made her start. She made a quick movement, as if to draw them away, then visibly controlled herself and

permitted that mute interrogation and caress.

"It is just what I aye kent would happen," said Janet, unconscious or indifferent to her selfcontradictions; "and many a time have I implored my man no' to build upon her, though I wasna so wise as to tak my ain advice. And as for you, Andrew, though I took good care you should hear a' the circumstances, maybe I should have warned you mair clearly that you should not lippen to her, and ware a' your heart upon her, when at ainy moment -at ainy moment- Here the old woman's voice failed her, and broke off in a momentary, muchresisted sob. Halliday's astonishment and anxiety grew at every word. His hand pressed Joyce's hands with the increasing fervour of an eager demand.

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"Joyce! Joyce! what do they mean? Have you nothing to Say?"

Joyce turned upon him, with a sudden flush taking the place of her paleness. "Granny would make you think that I was not worthy to be trusted," she said; "that to ware your heart upon me, as she says, was to be cheated and betrayed."

"No, no,—I never could believe that!" he cried, not unwilling to prove the superiority of his own trust to that of the old people, who, Halliday felt, it would not be a bad thing to be clear of, or as nearly clear of as circumstances might permit.

Joyce scarcely paused to hear his response, but, having found her voice, went on hurriedly. 'People have come that say— that say

They are just strangers-we never saw them before. They say that I-I-belong to them. Õh, I am not going to pretend," cried Joyce, "that I have

not thought of that happening, many a day! It was like a poem all to myself. It went round and round in my head. It was a kind of dream. But I never thought-I never, never thought what would become of me if it came true. And how do I know that it is true? Grandfather, you and granny are my father and my mother. I never knew any other. You have brought me up and cared for me, and I am your child to the end of my life. I will never, never

"Hold your peace!” cried Janet. She put up her hard hand against Joyce's soft young mouth. The little old woman grew majestic in her sense of justice and right. "Hold your peace!" she cried. "Make no vows, lest you should be tempted to break them and sin against the Lord. Ye'll do what it's your duty to do. You'll no' tell me this and that-that you'll take the law in your ain hands. Haud your tongue, Peter Matheson! You're an auld fool, putting nonsense into the bairn's head. What!" cried Janet, "a bairn of MINE to say that she'll act as she likes and please hersel', and take her choice what she'll do! and a' the time her duty straight forenenst her, and nae mainner o' doubt what it is. Dinna speak such stuff to me."

In the pause of this conflict Andrew Halliday's voice came in, astonished yet composed, with curiosity in it and strong expectation sentiments entirely different from those which swayed the others, and which silenced them and aroused their attention from the very force of contrast. "People who say that you belong to them? Your own people your own friends Joyce! Tell me who they are, tell me- You take away my breath. To think

that they should have found her after all!"

They all paused in the impassioned strain of their thoughts to look at him. This new note struck in the midst of them was startling and incomprehensible, yet checked the excitement and vehemence of their own feelings. "Ah, Andro," said old Peter, "ye're a wise man. Ye would like to hear a' about it, and wha they are, and if the new freends-the new freends"—the old man coughed over the words to get his voice-"if they're maybe grander folk and mair to your credit" he broke off into his usual laugh, but a laugh harsh and broken. "Ye're a wise lad, Andro, my man-ye're a wise lad."

"It is very natural, I think," said Andrew, reddening, "that I should wish to know. We have spoken many a time of Joyce'sfriends. I wish to know about them, and what they are, naturally, as any one in my position would do."

"Joyce's freends !-I thocht I kent weel what that meant," said Janet. "Eh to hear him speak of Joyce's freends. I thocht I kent weel what that meant," she repeated, with a smile of bitterness. Halliday had taken her seat at the table, and she went and seated herself by the wall at as great a distance from the group as the limits of space would permit. The old woman's eyes were keen with grief and bitter pain, and that sense of being superseded which is so hard to bear. She thought that Joyce had put her chair a little closer to that of the schoolmaster, detaching herself from Peter, and that the young people already formed a little This was party by themselves. the form her jealous consciousness of Joyce's superiority had always taken, even when everything went

well. She burst forth again in indignant prophetic strains, taking a little comfort in this thought. "But dinna you think you'll get her," she cried, "no more than Peter or me!-dinna you believe that they'll think you good enough for her, Andrew Halliday. If it's ended for us, it's mair than ended for you. Do you think a grand sodger - officer, that was the Captain's commander, and high, high up, nigh to the Queen herself,-do you think a man like that will give his dauchter and such a dauchter, fit for the Queen's Court if ever lady was—to a bit poor little parish schoolmaister like you?"

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The comfort which Janet took from this prognostication was bitter, but it was great. A curious pride in the grandeur of the officer who was "the Captain's commander made her bosom swell. At least there was satisfaction in that, and in the sudden downfall, the unmitigated and prompt destruction of all hopes that might be entertained by that whippersnapper, who dared to demand explanations on the subject of Joyce's "friends"-friends in Scotch peasant parlance meaning what "parents means in French, the family and nearest relatives. Janet had rightly divined that Halliday received the news not with sympathetic pain or alarm, but with suppressed delight, looking forward to the acquisition to himself, through his promised wife, of "friends" who would at once elevate him to the rank of gentleman, after which he longed with a consciousness of having no internal right to it, which old Janet's keen instincts had always comprehended-far, far different from Joyce, who want ed no elevation,-who was a lady born.

"Granny," said Joyce, with a trembling voice, "you think very

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"Me think little of ye! that's a bonnie story; but weel, weel I ken what will happen. We will pairt with sore hearts, but a firm meaning to be just the same to ane anither. I've seen a heap of things in my lifetime," said Janet, with mournful pride. "Sae has my man; but they havena time to think-they're no' aye turning things ower and ower like a woman at the fireside. I've seen mony changes and pairtings, and how it was aye said it should make no difference. Eh! I've seen that in the maist natural way. It's no' that you'll mean ony unfaithfulness, my bonnie woman. Na, na. I ken ye to the bottom o' your heart, and there's nae unfaithfulness in you-no' even to him," said Janet, indicating Halliday half contemptuously by a pointing finger, "much less to your grandfaither and me. whiles in an ill key, and I've been sae, I dinna deny it, since ever I heard this awfu' news : but now I'm coming to mysel'. Ye'll do your duty, Joyce. Ye'll accept what canna be refused, and ye'll gang away from us with a sair heart, and it will be a' settled that you're to come back, maybe twice a-year, maybe ance a-year, to Peter and me, and be our ain bairn again. They're no' ill folk," she went on, the tears dropping upon her apron on which she was folding hem after hem-"they're good folk; they're kind, awfu' kind— they'll never wish ye to be ungrateful, that's what they'll say. They'll no' oppose it, they'll settle it a'-maybe a week, maybe a month, maybe mair; they'll be real weel - meaning, real kind. And Peter and me, we'll live a' the year thinking o' that time; and ye'll come back, my bonnie dear

-oh, ye'll come back! with your heart licht to think of the pleasure of the auld folk. But, eh Joyce ye'll no' be in the house a moment till ye'll see the difference; ye'll no' have graspit my hand or looked me in the face till ye see the difference. Ye'll see the glaur on your grandfaither's shoon when he comes in, and the sweat on his brow. No' with ony unkind meaning. Oh, far frae that far frae that! Do I no' ken your heart? But ye'll be used to other things-it'll a' have turned strange to ye then-and ye'll see where

we're wanting. Oh, ye'll see it! It will just be mair plain to ye than all the rest. The wee bit place, the common things, the neebors a' keen to ken, but chief of us, Peter and me our ainsels, twa common puir folk."

"Granny!" cried Joyce, flinging herself upon her, unable to bear this gradual working up.

Peter came in with a chorus with his big broken laugh-" Ay, ay, just that, just that! an auld broken-down ploughman and his puir auld body of a wife. It's just that, it's just that!"

CHAPTER XV.

Great was the consternation in Bellendean over the unsatisfactory interview which it was so soon known had taken place between Joyce and her father. Colonel Hayward's public intimation of the facts at luncheon had created, as might have been expected, the greatest commotion; and the ladies of the party assembled round Mrs Bellendean with warm curiosity when the whisper ran through the house that Joyce had comeand had gone away again. Gone away! To explain it was very difficult, to understand it impossible. The schoolmistress, the vil lage girl, to discover that she was Colonel Hayward's daughter, and not to be elated, transported by the discovery! Why, it was a romance, it was like a fairy tale. Mrs Bellendean's suggestion that there was a second side to every thing, though the fact was not generally recognised in fairy tales, contented no one; and a little mob of excited critics, all touched and interested by Colonel Hayward's speech, turned upon the rustic heroine and denounced her pretensions. What did she ex

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pect, what had she looked for-to turn out a king's daughter, or a duke's? But it was generally agreed that few dukes were SO delightful as delightful as Colonel Hayward, and that Joyce showed the worst of taste as well as the utmost ingratitude. Mrs Bellendean was disappointed too; but she partly comforted by the fact that Captain Bellendean, who was indignant beyond measure at the girl's caprice and folly, had fallen into a long and apparently interesting argument on the subject with Greta, her own special favourite and protégée. It is almost impossible for any natural woman to find a man in Norman's position, well-looking, young, and rich, within her range, without forming matrimonial schemes for him of one kind or another; and Mrs Bellendean had already made up her mind that the pang of leaving Bellendean would be much softened could she see her successor Greta, the favourite of the house, a girl full of her own partialities and ways of thinking, and whom she had influenced all her life. She forgot Joyce in seeing the

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animated discussion that rose between these two. Greta's charming ingenuous face lit up by the fervour of her plea for Joyce, and eager explanation of everything that could excuse and justify her, seemed to her maternal friend irresistible and Norman seemed to feel the fascination. He melted, he smiled, he appeared to take pains to draw out that generous plea; there was so much admiration and pleasure in his looks that the lady felt her heart rise in spite of the complications of the other question. She was much interested in Joyce, but more in Greta. The rest of the party gradually melted away, having exhausted the subject, and Mrs Bellendean took the opportunity to follow. They did not seem tired of it, and she was abundantly satisfied to let them follow it- -as far as it might go.

Nor was Greta disinclined. Norman was not only her relative but her old friend. She believed that he had been very kind to her when she was a child. She was very willing to believe that she had always thought of him, and that in India and over all the world he had kept a corner in his heart for little Greta. Other people thought so, and though he had never said it, there seemed no reason in the world why it should not be true. It was pleasant to her to linger and talk to him, and defend Joyce against his strictures, with indeed the truest enthusiasm for Joyce, but a half pleasure in hearing him attack, in order that she might defend her. Perhaps Greta believed that Norman Bellendean was moved in the same way, and that it was in order that she might defend that he made his attack. And perhaps there was a grain of truth in the supposition: but only a grain of truth; for when Captain

Bellendean saw from the window at which he was standing, carrying on this half-serious, half-laughing debate, his old Colonel walking to and fro on the terrace with heavy steps and bowed head, his point of interest changed at once. He looked no more at Greta, though she was a much prettier sight: evidently all his sympathy was for Colonel Hayward; and after the talk had gone on languishing for a few moments, he excused himself for leaving her. "Poor old chap! I must go and try if I can do anything to console him," he said. He stepped out from the open window, waving his hand to her in his friendly brotherly way. He was entirely at his ease with Greta, and liked her very much; but she felt disconcerted and cast down far more than the position required-as if she had been thrown over, almost rejected, a sensation which ran hotly through her for a moment before she had convinced herself how false it was. How entirely false, and how unworthy of her to entertain such a feeling, when he was only following the dictates of his kind heart to try and comfort those who were in trouble! Nevertheless Greta felt a certain sense of humiliation when Norman left her. He could not surely have kept that corner for her so warmly after all.

Norman found Colonel Hayward very much cast down and melancholy. He was pacing up and down, up and down-sometimes pausing to throw a blank look over the landscape, sometimes mechanically gathering a faded leaf from one of the creepers on the wall. He endeavoured to pull himself up when Captain Bellendean joined him; but the old soldier had no skill in concealing his feelings, and he was too anxious to get support

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