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broken, and Nigel perceived that assistance from him was not required, save to the extent of getting off his horse and retrieving the young lady's hat, which he did. She thanked him prettily and shyly, while wiping the sand out of her eyes; but her father was still too indignant to take notice of bystanders.
"I'll summons that fellow!" he shouted; "as sure as he's born I will! I don't quite know what pace the law allows to those infernal machines, but I'm certain they can't be allowed to tear along byways at the rate of thirty miles an hour. Run after him, James, as hard as you can go and take his name and address. I'll hold the ponies.”
The groom touched his hat, but did not immediately obey orders. "I'm afraid they've got rather too long a start, my lord," he ventured to remark. "Perhaps, if this gentleman would be so kind as to allow me to borrow his horse
Certainly," said Nigel, with alacrity; "off you
He might have offered to undertake the pursuit himself; but he did not wish to lose so favourable an occasion for making acquaintance with Lord Lannowe and Miss Ferrand, whose identity he had guessed and who were not slow to recognise his own. Lord Lannowe, who soon cooled down, was full of thanks and neighbourly civility.
"We have heard all about you from Monsignor Nolan, Mr. Scarth," said he, "and I was promising myself the pleasure of calling upon you in a day or two to welcome you to these parts. We begin effusively by casting ourselves at your feet, you see! But really something will have to be done about these abominable motors; it's downright scandalous!"
"I think it is," Nigel agreed. "You must have
encountered the same ruffian who nearly sent me flying a few minutes before."
"Oh, he did, did he? Then you'll bear me out, I hope, in the assertion that he was raging along like a lunatic. It's true that he hasn't killed us, nor even smashed our trap; but we don't owe him any thanks for that."
Nigel thought, but did not say, that he personally might have some reason for feeling grateful to the culprit. If Miss Ferrand was scarcely as beautiful as Monsignor Nolan had led him to expect, she was, to his sense, undeniably attractive, and her somewhat oldfashioned modesty and timidity gave her an additional charm in the eyes of one who had learnt to regard women generically as the embodiment of danger and temptation. He had a little talk with her while her father mounted the adjoining hillside to scan the horizon, in the hope of descrying the fugitives, and he found her conversation as simple and winning as her face.
"Don't you feel very lonely all by yourself in that great house?" she asked, with an innocence of intention which made him smile. "I remember once being taken to Rixmouth Castle when I was a child, and I have never forgotten how huge it seemed to me."
"Perhaps," answered Nigel, "I don't feel the size or the solitude of it as much as I should if I hadn't been a rather lonely sort of person all my life. I had no brothers or sisters, I never saw much of my father, and the few friends of my youth have either dropped me or been dropped by me. The life of a Benedictine is solitary, too, though it is spent in community. I dare say you know that I left Lew Abbey to take up this inheritance."
The girl looked at him with curious, commiserating
"I wonder why you did!" she exclaimed, halfinvoluntarily. "You were not obliged, were you?"
"No; but I was not dissuaded. I think Father Abbot wished me to decide as I did, although he would not say so. I think it was probably the right thing to do."
"Perhaps you had no vocation?" Monica hazarded. He responded with a frown and a short sigh; for she had unwittingly laid her finger upon a sore spot.
"Perhaps not," he answered; "no man can judge of that for himself. All I know is that I believe the religious life to be the happiest of all lives."
She was disposed to agree with him there, and indeed they speedily discovered that they were of one mind upon many points. Great progress towards friendship or intimacy or even love may be made in the course of ten minutes, and fully that length of time had elapsed before Lord Lannowe descended from his post of observation to announce that James was returning.
"He gave me a signal which, I am afraid, meant that he has not been successful. I only hope he hasn't taken too much out of your horse, Mr. Scarth."
The horse, when he reappeared, looked as if he had been ridden rather hard, and the groom was duly apologetic, apologising also for his failure to overtake the motorists. But there were three high roads in the vicinity, he explained, and very likely he had chosen the wrong one. "Ah, well," said Lord Lannowe, with whom anger was always a brief emotion, we must see what can be done by giving information to the police. Now, Monica, my dear, we ought to be getting home. I hope it won't be very long before you find your way to Lannowe, Mr. Scarth; we shall be charmed to see you any day. Perhaps I ought to say that I shall be charmed; for my daughter is about to desert me, alas!"
"Indeed!" ejaculated Nigel, somewhat blankly. It was, of course, absurd of him to be dismayed by this unexpected piece of intelligence, but he was almost dismayed.
"Yes, she is going up to her sister in London to make her début and be introduced to the gay world. The world isn't so gay as it used to be, in my opinion, so I propose to stay quietly at home; but I daresay it won't disappoint her."
"I should like to stay at home too, if I could choose," Miss Ferrand said.
"Only of course you can't choose, my dear," returned her father, laughing and patting her on the shoulder. "Does Frances ever allow anybody the impertinence of choice? No; I must get on as well as I can without you until the end of July; but if you aren't back by then I shall begin to growl."
They drove away, leaving Nigel pensive. If he had not fallen in love with Monica Ferrand at first sight, he had at least taken a strong fancy to her and had seen in her exactly the girl whom he would wish to make his wife, should it be as everybody seemed agreed that it was his destiny to marry. She was visibly good, she had given some indications of religious fervour, she was modest, simple and doubtless affectionate. What more could any man desire? But it was a sad and unavoidable reflection that a few weeks might convert her into a very different person. What school and college are to one sex introduction to society is to the other. The young ones must go through the mill and take their chance; there is no help for it. But Nigel was unreasonable enough to be angry with Lord Lannowe for allowing it, angry with Monica's sister for insisting upon it, even a little angry with himself for being utterly impotent in the matter. For a moment it occurred to him that he also
might betake himself to the metropolis, so as to be near her, to see her sometimes, and possibly to breathe an occasional discreet word of warning in her ear. However, he put that rather fantastic notion away from him hurriedly. London ?-he could never dare! For to him London symbolised perils more grave than any that Monica was likely to encounter, and he had a profound distrust of himself which was not entirely without justification. So he concluded, with a species of pious fatalism, that what was to be would be, and that the Christian virtues of Faith and Hope became him best. Perhaps there might be scope for the exercise of Charity at a later date.